Debbie Rodrigues is a CrossFit athlete, certified Personal Trainer and a brain tumor survivor. On her blog, Debbie in Shape, she shares fitness and health tips to inspire others to overcome adversities and improve their quality of life.

Inflammation has various causes and can affect our body in different ways. The symptoms can take range from that of a cold to major pain and swelling. Prolonged inflammation can lead to many other health conditions. What can be done to reduce inflammation and its effects on the body?

Prevention is always better than cure. Even though chronic inflammation may lead to serious conditions, it can be controlled. All it takes is building daily habits that promote a healthy lifestyle.

1. Your Are What You Eat

Who hasn’t seen this quote? Our eating habits speak a lot about who we are. Before, food was used to fuel the body so that it was able to produce enough energy. But things have changed. Eating is now a means to channel emotional states, to show status and has became a hobby. New flavors and ingredients have been introduced to our regular diet. Suddenly the excessive intake of sugar, bad fats and processed food took over whole foods. It is no surprise that the number of inflammation related diseases grows.

The best way to solve it is by having a mindful approach to your food. Make the right choices and your body will thank you for that.

2. Know Common Inflammation Triggers

By avoiding known triggers you can already decrease the chances of developing chronic inflammation. A few weeks ago I wrote a post on 11 common triggers of inflammation. Half of them have to do with diet. Others include chemicals, pollution and lifestyle choices. There are many potential triggers, but by avoiding the most common you may see a difference in a short amount of time. You may also be saving with health care costs thanks to the improvements on your well-being.

3. Avoid Allergens

Even though the list of allergens always starts with food like gluten and lactose, it goes much further than that. Everyone is different and it may not even apply for you. But there might be other ingredients that will ignite inflammatory reactions in your body.

Observing how you feel after meals will give you a perfect insight. Keeping a diary of your intake helps a lot in the discovery phase. Write down not only what you ate, but how you felt afterwards as well. You should do this exercise for at least a month. Keep in mind that the effects of certain allergens are felt only one or two days after intake. Make note of repetitive patterns. Compare the effects of eating raw and cooked vegetables, for example. Play around with combinations and see which ones satiate you and which upset your stomach.

Other allergens like pets or pollen are good to bring up with a doctor. Then you can make a  plan for managing your allergies, especially if you come into contact with them on a regular basis.

4. Personalize Your Plan

Once you have mapped your intake and understand how your body reacts to it, you can start personalizing what you eat and interact with. There is a lot of information on the Internet about nutrition and dieting. Use common sense when evaluating the best options for you. Eating should not be a hobby , but it should still be an enjoyable experience. Remember that digestion starts in the mouth. After seeing an appetizing meal, your body will produce more saliva. Its enzymes break down carbohydrates making the digestion easier. When you are eating something against your will, your stomach will have to work much harder to get the same job done.

Try new recipes. You do not have to overcomplicate things. Add in more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. If you aren’t getting enough nutrients from food or your losing nutrients from the food you’re cutting out, supplements may be a good option.

5. Quit Smoking

Some things in life can be dealt with in moderation. Smoking does not fall in this list. Even passive smoking can be extremely dangerous(2). If you are serious about your life and health, there is no other solution but to quit cigarettes once and for all. There is no negotiation here and that is all for your own good and for those around you. Chances are it is not the first time you are reading it, so maybe you should start considering it.

6. Get up and move!

Until some centuries ago, people had to cover long distances on foot on a daily basis. They were outdoors most of the time, benefiting from fresh clean air and sunlight way much more than most of us do these days. We sit at our desks at work and in front of the TV at home. This sedentary lifestyle is doing more harm than good(3). It is a pro-inflammatory way of living that we have to change. Here are some simple ways to get started:

  • Make simple switches during the day like using the stairways instead of the elevator whenever possible
  • Leave the car at home and take the bike for short distance errands
  • Add 30 minutes of physical activity to your daily routine

7. Get Some Zzz’s

Lack of sleep has been linked to higher levels of inflammation(4). Sleep duration of 6 to 8.9 hours was linked to significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers compared to sleep duration of under 6 hours. The effects of sleep deprivation on the body are similar to that of stress and sickness. That is why it is common to feel unwell after a poor quality sleep or a sleepless night. Read more about how to sleep better here.

Only your health care provider will be able to diagnose chronic inflammation. If you are in doubt, request the necessary tests to check your condition. The sooner treatment begins, the better for you. Living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle not only prevents complications but will also improve your well-being. By exercising regularly and eating healthily, you will be boosting the quality of your life.

Above all, listen to your body. A great quote I like to remember is “If you listen to your body when it whispers, you will never have to listen to it scream.” You will have better tools to understand your body’s reactions and symptoms from the moment you decide to pay closer attention to it.

  1. Anti-inflammatory effects of Asparagus cochinchinensis extract in acute and chronic cutaneous inflammation. – J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jan 12;121(1):28-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.006. Epub 2008 Jul 18. – Lee do Y1, Choo BK, Yoon T, Cheon MS, Lee HW, Lee AY, Kim HK.
  2. The Effects of Secondhand Smoke – http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/effects-of-secondhand-smoke
  3. Sitting is the New Smoking—7 Ways a Sedentary Lifestyle is Killing You –  http://www.theactivetimes.com/sitting-new-smoking-7-ways-sedentary-lifestyle-killing-you
  4. Sleep Quality and Duration are Associated with Higher Levels of Inflammatory Biomarkers: the META-Health Study. – Alanna Morris, Dorothy Coverson, Lucy Fike, Yusuf Ahmed, Neli Stoyanova, W. Craig Hooper, Gary Gibbons, Donald Bliwise, Viola Vaccarino, Rebecca Din-Dzietham, and Arshed Quyyumi. – Circulation, 23 November 2010; 122: Abstract: A17806. 


This article was first posted on purepharma.com