Inflammation is a natural reaction in the human body for wound healing. However, too much inflammation in the body can be a breeding ground for disease, such as cancer and heart disease. Ideally our bodies are slightly alkaline with a pH of about 7.4. Yet many things in our world, such as toxins in the air and processed foods, cause us to be more acidic. This acidity causes inflammation which can first cause “symptoms” such as fatigue, and eventually cause disease.
Below are lists of some of the specific things to avoid that can increase inflammation as well as things that help to decrease inflammation in our bodies. To prevent disease, or reduce current inflammation, try incorporating one or two things from the lists below every week or two, or whenever you feel ready to adapt more change. The most important part of the items below are to try and make them a “lifestyle”. Keep in mind, that even one or two small changes can make a huge difference in how you feel day to day, and, over time, on your overall health.
Key things that tend to increase inflammation (bad!):
1) Refined sugars and white flours- this could also be called “all processed/refined foods”. It is best to eat whole grains and use natural sweeteners. Eating a “whole” food instead of a “processed” food is key!
2) Processed Omega 6 fats, hydrogenated fats, and trans fats (Often found in processed snack foods and margarines.) – ideally eat plenty of Omega 3 fats, monounsaturated fats, and Omega 6 fats in their natural state.
3) Stress, negative thoughts, and feelings of helplessness- these have a much larger impact on our health than most of us care to realize.
4) Coffee- organic coffee in moderation is thought to be ok, but more than a cup or two daily can be very acidifying. Your better choice is green tea!
5) Alcohol- if you choose to drink, do so in moderation. Organic sulfite-free red wine is probably your best choice.
6) Dairy- most people don’t realize how acidic cow’s milk is. There are plenty of healthy milk alternatives such as nut, hemp and coconut milk, but be sure to get “unsweetened” or you’ll be adding a lot of unneeded sugar.
We can get plenty of calcium in foods such as quinoa, spinach, amarynth, and legumes.
7) Artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame and Sucralose (Splenda)- they are chemicals and are thus very acidic. Instead choose natural sweeteners like raw honey, raw agave, or stevia.
8) Pesticides and other chemicals in non-organic foods- try to choose organic meats, dairy and produce when possible.
9) Environmental toxins- it is best to drink filtered water, use organic/chemical free body care products, and use chemical free household cleaners.
10) Medication- it is a chemical and thus acidifying. When possible choose natural or wean off what you can (under the discretion of a doctor, of course).
Key things that can help decrease inflammation (good!):
1) Obviously avoid as much of the above list as possible!
2) Drink plenty of water, especially lemon water- drinking lemon water, especially first thing in the morning is a great habit to get into to aid in detoxing the body. Ideally drink 70-80+ oz. of water daily.
3) Green drinks- such as chlorophyll, blue-green algae, spirulina, wheat and barley grass. They are easy to incorporate into a smoothie or just a drink with water. They are exploding with health benefits.
4) Sea Vegetables- such as nori, dulse, wakame, arame. Buy at the health food store and sprinkle into soups and salads.
5) Cinnamon- great to keep blood sugars from spiking. Don’t be afraid to use plenty on cereals, oats, and in smoothies.
6) Turmeric- great spice for reducing inflammation. Best when slightly heated thus great when a part of curry dishes or in stir frys.
7) Green leafy vegetables- they are highly alkaline and full of nutrients. Try all the wonderful varieties!
8) Vegetables- best when your meals are focused around vegetables first, then whole grains, healthy fats and proteins.
9) Green tea- very rich in EGCGs which are great for inflammation. Especially Japanese teas. Drink organic and loose leaf tea when possible.
10) Cruciferous vegetables- such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Many studies show a link between them and reductions in cancerous cells.
11) Overall calorie reduction- even if just a 10% reduction in daily caloric intake. Less calories means less insulin secretion which is linked to inflammation.
12) Floss teeth daily- bacteria in our gums can move through our bodies and cause inflammation.
13) Exercise- best to partake in moderate but consistent exercise or activity.