The key to reducing chronic inflammation in your body starts with your diet. It’s unfortunate we are often misled by popular media and mostly outdated health information into believing that the modern western diet and many modern foods are healthy. What I learnt through my own journey and inability to thrive was that nothing could be further from the truth! The “western diet” is made up of mainly processed foods, lots of added sugar and a lot of the bad fats, which are all problematic, but that’s not the whole story. You see it’s not just what we ARE eating that’s the problem, it’s also largely what we aren’t eating enough of any more. What we LEAVE OUT of our diet is just as important as what we put in. The result, is that most people are either confused and don’t know what to eat, or they falsely believe that they ARE eating the right things to promote good health, letting the chronic inflammation slowly and silently creep in. According to Dr Mercola, “Diet accounts for about 80 percent of the health benefits you reap from a healthful lifestyle, and keeping inflammation in check is a major part of these benefits”. Put simply, there are some dietary components that can trigger inflammation and some that can prevent it. For example, excess sugar, trans fats and processed grains (think gluten) will increase inflammation, whereas eating healthy fats (omega 3’s), alkalizing greens and certain herbs like turmeric and ginger can reduce and prevent it.
How Can You Remedy It?Below is a list of 10 simple diet tips that could help you counteract chronic inflammation fast and get you back on track to performing your best again.
Increase your omega 3 oil and/or GLA essential fatty acid (Gamma Linolenic Acid) intake. Sources - extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds, Udo’s Oil, take a DHA, fish or krill oil supplement.
Include more tumeric, or specifically, the active component, curcumin in your diet. To improve and assist the absorption it is best when combined with black pepper and/or good fats because it is fat soluble and difficult for the digestive system to absorb. Some good ways to increase your intake is when you use the powder form of the root in indian dishes, curries or Turmeric milk. You can also take it in the form of a supplement but be sure to find one with a patented formula that helps improve absorption. Some of them can have up to 7x better absorption than inferior versions.
Drink more water - Most of us are chronically dehydrated. 60-70% of the human body is made up of water. Water is essential not just for combatting inflammation but also for maintaining optimal health in general. It helps us to flush our system of waste, toxins and poisons, regulates our body temp, acts as shock absorber, lubricates our joints and is basically important for the normal function of every type of cell. Everyone’s needs vary but as a general guide try drinking between 2 - 3.5 litres of water/day, depending on climate conditions and activity levels. (keep a water bottle or jug and glass handy at all times)
Drink less caffeine - This means, coffee, black tea, green tea, and energy drinks (they’re the worst). Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it drives more fluid out of your body because it makes you produce more urine. This contributes to the dehydration problem mentioned above. Caffeine also causes a temporary energy boost by stimulating an adrenal response similar to what happens naturally when we feel threatened (real or perceived). This is the Fright, Fight, Flight reaction and is actually a sympathetic STRESS response. Excess stress is a pro inflammatory state, so too much caffeine = more stress = more inflammation. Most people are in a constant state of sympathetic stress.
Eliminate refined sugars, especially high fructose (corn syrup) and processed white sugar. The problem with both modern day refined sugars and the refined grains mentioned next is that they can heavily impact your insulin sensitivity because we eat way too much of them. Without getting too technical, poor insulin sensitivity and high insulin resistance is bad. It not only heavily increases systemic chronic inflammation but also contributes to developing type 2 diabetes, obesity and premature ageing. The best way to reverse this process is to exercise regularly and eliminate these foods altogether from your diet for a few months to help reset and improve your bodies insulin resistance.
Cut out the gluten and refined grains - It’s no surprise that many people can no longer digest gluten. Most processed grains no longer resemble what they were originally like in nature just a few decades ago. Consuming them for many often results in bloating and an eventual inflammatory response starting in the digestive tract causing varying mild to severe symptoms.
Replace dairy products with anti-inflam alternatives - Mass produced, store bought dairy is not the same stuff we drank many years ago. It’s too big a topic to cover here but for now try replacing it with organic versions of rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk which are all great alternatives that are readily available or easy to make yourself. Try them and see how you feel. If you find you do want to continue using dairy products find the grass fed, certified organic versions.
Increase your greens intake - Supergreens like spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, and Kale are all amazing for reducing inflammation because they are alkalising (that’s why we put them in Yoga Food). They can also have a detoxing effect which helps the body rid itself of toxins and heavy metals which both also contribute to the systemic inflammatory process.
Add more ginger - Ginger has amazing natural anti inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries in both traditional ayurvedic and chinese medicine for it’s health promoting and healing properties.
- Avoid trans fats - Trans fats have no nutritional content and increase your LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) in the blood. Avoid things like deep fried foods, margarine and the vegetable oils most commonly used for cooking as they are the biggest culprits. Some healthier alternatives are: Organic coconut oil for cooking. High quality, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings.
- Regular moderate movement/exercise 3+ times/week
- You THRIVE on 8 hours sleep/night
- Meditate daily
- Make time for recreation and holidays
- Practice gratitude
- Unexplainable fatigue
- Random stomach issues, indigestion, bloating after eating or even weight gain
- Persistent aches and pains for no reason or unexplained stiffness in your body and joints
- Difficulty concentrating or a cloudy feeling in your head
- Trouble getting started in the morning
…get started with some of the changes today. Start slowly and increase them over time to form better habits and reduce the chronic inflammation. This could be one of the most important decisions you make. It will totally transform the way you feel, your overall health and it will skyrocket your energy levels! It’s my mission to help over a million people like you to reclaim your right to thrive again and be the healthiest happiest version of you that you can be. It’s a big part of the reason I created Yoga Food. It includes all of the things you DO need (mentioned above) and none of the things that you DON’T, so it's a great and easy way to get you started on your journey to reducing chronic inflammation. It was created with YOU, the consumer in mind, as an easy and delicious way for modern, busy people to start their day with the right nutrition, from certified organic, plant based sources. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed, we guarantee it!
Dr Sean Kirke. Chiropractor, Yoga Teacher & Founder of Yoga Food
P.S. When you start to notice the positive changes in your own life, or if you have any questions leave a comment or get in touch with us. We are here to help and would love to hear from you.