Ask any functional medicine doctor and they will tell you that inflammation is at the root of most diseases. Yup! Heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, high blood pressure and even asthma are the result of lifestyle choices that promote the body's inflammatory responses. Inflammation, however, isn’t always a bad thing. It has a role in promoting the healthy functioning of our body. When we’re injured, for example, our body releases white blood cells to the site of the injury, and it is inflammation that protects the injured area.
However, it’s inflammation from an overactive immune system that leads to autoimmune disease and other ailments. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of pro-inflammatory foods. To keep inflammation at bay, the medical community generally recommends a move towards a Mediterranean diet that’s rich in omega-3s, fresh fruits and vegetables. The evidence is pretty clear that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals (thanks to fresh fruits and veggies) can help regulate the immune system and impact the way inflammation effects our bodies. Moreover, avoiding processed, sugary and starchy foods is also a good place to begin. (Think: Cookies, cakes, donuts, candy, pizza… everything you want to eat but know you probably shouldn’t.)
So, what else can you do right now to reduce your inflammation?
EAT MORE GREENS
I tell all my clients, when they're planning their meals, choose their veggies first. In the US, we have a propensity towards animal proteins and usually plan our meals around a steak or other meat. By choosing your veggies first and making them 50% of your plate, you're creating room for tons of phytonutrients and antioxidants.
NIX SUGAR AND FRIED FOODS
Both of these are pro-inflammatory and can wreak havoc on your body over time. Instead of sugary desserts, keep your fridge and freezer stocked with berries. They're jam-packed with flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants. And in lieu of fried foods, use the oven or crockpot. The flavors will be just as good and will pay big dividends in the way of your health.
WORK IT OUT
Not only do people who exercise more get paid more (fact!) but they also have fewer inflammatory markers. When you engage in moderate exercise (I'm looking at you, chronic over-exercisers!) the body makes and uses more antioxidants which reduces our levels of inflammation. Moreover, regular exercisers have lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.
GET ALLERGY TESTED
Eating foods that you're allergic to or even slightly sensitive too can cause chronic low-grade inflammation and have you feeling less than stellar. If left unchecked it can compromise your immune system and even lead to conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, arthritis and diabetes.