Very often I meet women and men who suffer from inflammatory illnesses, and over the last few years, I have worked with women with various inflammatory issues. How can you tell if you're suffering from an inflammation?
There are two types of inflammation – acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term). Although both generally show the same symptoms such as swelling, heat, pain, redness and loss of function, there are other forms of chronic inflammation that are not as obvious. These types of inflammation caused by stress, unhealthy diets and toxins in our environment, just to name a few, may lead to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer and other chronic conditions. While some symptoms of inflammation can be alleviated when you cool the area (such as with an ice pack) or taking anti-inflammatory medication, some others aren’t that simple.
So what measures can you take to prevent inflammation or reduce its occurrence?
Of course, as is always the case, a more balanced lifestyle like getting enough sleep, reducing your stress levels wherever possible and getting regular exercise will help in reducing inflammation. However, all these coupled with proper nutrition seem to help the most. When working with my clients, I give them ‘simple’ (sometimes easier said than done!) recommendations to tweak their diets that they then integrate slowly and step by step into their everyday lives.
The exact effect of diet on inflammatory processes still needs to be studied, but some diets such as the Asian and Mediterranean diets, have been associated with improved cardiac outcomes.
These are the tips that might ease your pain from inflammations:
- Cut out everything that’s white in your diet – this includes sugar, white flour, pasta and rice, for example. All of these ingredients are known to cause inflammation in our body in one way or the other.
- Stop consuming alcohol.
- Say goodbye to processed foods and eat as natural as possible. Nowadays, when you read the label of a food item, you may not understand or even recognize half the ingredients listed. My rule of thumb is: if you don’t understand or recognize it, don’t eat it.
- Eat as much fresh veggies and fruits as possible. Always aim for more veggies than fruit and try to eat a large portion raw as they generally contain more micronutrients than the cooked version. Your body needs those to strengthen your immune system. Also, based on the Ayurvedic belief that inflammation is caused by too much heat in the body, consuming raw fruits and veggies can help the body to cool down.
- Minimize coffee and other caffeinated drinks as much as possible.
- Reduce dairy products.
- Drink enough water. 1l per 25kg of bodyweight.
- Add spices like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and garlic to your diet.
Compared to a pill that works within a few hours, this approach will of course take a bit longer until you notice the difference that it makes. However, before you reach for that pill in defeat, remember that this approach will have long-term benefits and will improve your health in the long-run.