What are the most common causes of inflammation, and what symptoms can people experience?
If you’ve ever been stung by a bee, sprained your ankle, or suffered from a runny nose as the result of the common cold or an allergy, then you have encountered inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s reaction to irritation, injury, or infection. The ability to mount an inflammatory response is essential for survival; but the ability to control inflammation is essential for good health. Excessive or uncontrolled inflammation can result in a vast array of diseases such as arthritis, gout, eczema, psoriasis, crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Systemic inflammation is also believed to be linked to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
What dietary factors can contribute?
Getting the right balance of Essential Fatty Acids is vital in managing inflammation. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential as our bodies cannot produce these fats, so we must obtain them from a healthy diet or through supplementation. Omega-6 mostly sends pro-inflammatory messages, whereas omega-3 helps calm inflammation by sending anti-inflammatory messages. Unfortunately, we tend to consume up to 20 times more omega-6 to omega-3, leading to more inflammation being produced, therefore leading to more inflammatory conditions then ever before. To manage inflammation, I would recommend 2-3 portions of oily fish weekly (salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, tuna) or taking a high quality omega-3 fish oil daily. Make sure the fish oil you choose is 100% pure, natural and stable. We recommend Eskimo-3.
Too much foods rich in Omega-6 ALA (the bad omega-6) can contribute to inflammation – so its best to lessen your intake of red meats, processed meats, vegetable oils highly refined foods (prepackaged buns, biscuits, cakes, pastries, doughnuts etc), deep fried foods, and fast food. It’s ok to eat a portion of lean red meat once a week.
Some people find that the deadly nightshade family – potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines – increase inflammation and pain, therefore they are best avoided.
What nutritional and lifestyle advice can you offer to help reduce inflammation?
Eating plenty of alkalising foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, wholegrain bread, rice, quinoa and millet, oily fish, raw nuts or seeds and drinking 8 glasses of water, coconut water, green vegetable juices or herbal teas – nettle tea, green tea, ginger tea or chamomile tea will all help.
Spices such as curcumin and ginger are excellent at reducing inflammation. Curcumin and Ginger extract both offer anti-inflammatory benefits, however they work synergistically as they both reduce different inflammatory markers, thereby having a complete anti-inflammatory effect. You can use these spices in cooking or make a warm herbal drink regularly to help combat inflammation. If this proves difficult, you can take a curcumin and ginger complex daily to help keep inflammation at bay.
Too much stress can also contribute to inflammation, so it is important to exercise, practice yoga, pilates or walk regularly in order to help reduce stress and manage inflammation.
Read our full blog posts on tips to support sore joints here.
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