Inflammation & Anti-inflammation

By Anni Dahms
Owner of the retail chain
ANNI’s VITAL SHOP.
Nurse- & Health specialist,  Biopath and Nutritional Adviser.

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Infection and inflammation are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same.
The difference between an infection and an inflammation is that an infection is an attack by microorganisms; this could be a virus, bacteria, or fungal attack on the body, as with colds, sore throats, and pneumonia.
Inflammations are non-bacterial: an irritation, pain, swelling, fever, etc.

Both conditions are often categorized as inflammation, and this can seem quite confusing.

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Inflammations are an extremely vital part of our immune system, and they often disappear rather quickly. However, sometimes an inflammation can become chronic. This might be a result of mistreating your body: Too little exercise, smoking, contaminated air, stress, poor diet etc., which means the immune system has to take on more than it can handle.

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It is the opinion of many medical researchers, that inflammations can lead to a myriad of illnesses. For instance, it affects our bodies negatively and advances our aging process.
New research suggests that inflammation can be linked to many of our modern-day epidemics, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and psychological illnesses. There are even scientists that are linking inflammation to depression.

By making sure that we have healthy lifestyles, we can improve our everyday and feel strong, happy, and at ease. We can, by living healthier, slow down aging and reverse the deterioration of the body.

When I say healthy lifestyles, I don’t just mean healthy foods. I mean the whole package: a proper way of life with plenty of exercise, gratefulness, and good eating habits…combined with good sleep patterns.
Ayurvedic medicine says that stress is diminished through a proper circadian rhythm. This entails that you go to bed at 22:00 and wake up with the sun.
Speaking of—I have recently read a powerful quote from the father of Indian medicine. He announced, “Ayurveda is the holy science of life and benefits all mankind, both in this life and the next.”

It’s alright if it is challenging for you to change your lifestyle, but it should never become another stress factor. There must still be room for a normal life.

If you have many things that you would like to change, split them into smaller bites.

Also, for instance, tell yourself that you are on your way to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, then you have a better chance that your changes will be permanent. If the changes feel difficult to maintain, then think of the upsides of preventing a sickness rather than curing them.
You can get a degree of inflammation measured with a CRP(C-reactive-protein), it is a substance, which is formed by inflammation in the liver. CRP is measured in the blood, so a blood test could give some clarity.

 

The diet

Your body and mine—the bodies of everyone, are built by the food we consume and absorb. Going all the way back to Hippocrates, who wisely said, “We must consider our food medicine, and our medicine food,” shows us just how true this is.

You will experience that an anti-inflammatory diet will do you good, and strengthen your immune system, whilst making you feel better, both physically and mentally.
Personally, I tend to eat my emotions from time to time. Especially when I’m worried, stressed, sorry, or just plain tired. I’m constantly working on getting more discipline into my food habits and think I’m seeing progress. The good thing is that I feel it as a negative experience when I mess up. On the other hand, I also instantly feel good when I’m eating correctly.
It might be a good idea to plan your meals one week ahead of time.
Eat plenty of fiber rich foods, such as vegetables. The fiber in your food, will help stabilize your blood sugar.
Most vegetables work as an anti-inflammatory. Make sure that you get lots of colors into your everyday meals. It is a joy for the eye and therefore a joy for your digestive system. Vegetables also have their own healthy properties, like eggplant, broccoli, all kinds of kale, onions, peppers of all colors, tomatoes, all types of lettuces, and beets.

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Use the vegetables in smoothies, as raw food, baked, roasted, or in vegetable soups, and perhaps mixed with red lentils, which will fill you up and tastes lovely. Vary your approach as you see fit, and consider using almond milk for your smoothies.
Make sure that your food has a delightful taste, preferably with a variety of spices.

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You can make many great sauces with avocado, tomato, garlic, plenty of herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice. There are many herbs that have an anti-inflammatory effect (for instance thyme, oregano, rosemary, ginger, basil, chili, turmeric, coriander, and capers) on your body. The options are only limited by your imagination.

Consume nuts and almonds together with seeds such as sesame (perhaps in the form of tahini) that are rich in omega-3. Be aware that you can also get almonds through almond milk and almond butter. The same is true for a variety of other nuts.

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You should also enjoy berries, fruits, and legumes. They do not only work as a natural anti-inflammatory, but are also a source of antioxidants. Anti-inflammatory fruits and berries are: pineapple, apricot, blueberry, lemon, cherry, melon, apple, raspberry, papaya, and others.

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For your general health it is beneficial to eat 5 – 6 small meals daily. It is good to start your day with a glass of warm water with some lemon.

Make sure that your meals are prepared with quality ingredients, homecooked and chosen with careful consideration. Include quinoa and chia seeds in your daily cooking. You can find many easy-to-follow recipes online.
When I gave courses on nutrition, I always asked the participants to write down what they had eaten and drunk in the 3 days prior. From that we could often discover what our weaknesses and strengths were, and where it was important to change.

It can be a good idea to do the same for yourself, and perhaps one or more of you friends, whom are also interested in eating a inflammation lowering diet. It is very likely that as a group following the diet, you have a higher chance of success.
Stay away from foods containing gluten, dairy products with lactose, and sugar. Feel for yourself which dairy products you can tolerate, such as yogurt.

Don’t drink too much wine, but it is beneficial to enjoy a single glass occasionally. Red wine is anti-inflammatory.

Do not drink more than one cup of coffee daily, but instead enjoy one of the many interesting tees, such as green tea, matcha, turmeric, nettles, dandelion, rooibos, and licorice.

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Using olive oil is very healthy, use the one that is as dark green as possible. Also enjoy ecological butter on your bread responsibly. This also contains omega-3 oils.
Avocado and coconut oil are also great and healthy sources of fat.

Eat a little bit of light meat and fish, preferable fat fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.

If you need some bread, then consider baking it yourself with, for instance, buckwheat, desiccated coconut, or almond flour.

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Dietary supplements

  • Make sure to get plenty of omega-3 oils. Experts believe that 3 – 5 grams of fish oil, can help reduce inflammations. Omega-3 oils are basically miracle oils. They help with many things, from being anti-inflammatory, to fighting wrinkles, stress, and anxiety. Omega-3 oils are seen as essential. This means that we cannot form them in our body ourselves, but they have to be supplied with food or as a dietary supplement.
  • Stay away from the many bad omega-6 oils, which can start to create inflammations in your body.
  • Probiotics are living microorganisms, also called lactic acid bacteria; they, too, have an anti-inflammatory effect. It is important to strengthen your intestinal flora. When you buy probiotics, then it might be a good idea to change the labels, which often contain different intestinal bacteria. There are new discoveries being made every day about the importance of the intestinal flora. 80% of our immune system originates from our intestinal system.
  • Take a high quality and versatile vitamin/mineral product.
  • Supplement with extra vitamin-C, ideally with bioflavonoids.
  • Vitamin-E is good for antioxidants.
  • Selenium works especially well with vitamin-E.
  • Ginger is anti-inflammatory.
  • Curcumin from turmeric is generally strengthening, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Garlic is also part of the anti-inflammatory family.

 

Tips

To live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle has been a long and interesting journey for me. It came with many experiences, quite a few stops, and a few too long breaks, before picking up where I left off. I have discovered that it really pays off to keep a low level of inflammation in the body, which has become realistic for me, even with a busy lifestyle. I have neither the time nor the energy for a great health revolution, but I try my best in my daily life.

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  • Even though food and supplements are important, there are also many other factors, which play a role in an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
  • Exercise is important. Exercise strengthens the immune system and works anti-inflammatory as well. You should get some sort of exercise at least once a day. It could for instance be a mix between strength training and stretching exercises, which improves your flexibility. Make sure that all your muscle groups are moved.
  • It should be exercise that suits you – the exercise should not be exaggerated; this could have the opposite effect. It might be worthwhile getting a personal trainer whose focus is on you. If you have a trainer once a week, you can continue on your own 3 – 4 times a week.
  • If you are more stressed than you ought to be, stop what you are doing and revisit your approach to the situation. Perhaps you should start doing yoga. Speak to your yoga teacher about which kind of yoga could be beneficial to you.
  • Be grateful. Use your eyes and senses to notice all the beauty that surrounds you.
  • Make a conscious effort to bring joy into your life.

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