Understanding Inflammation and What to do About it

I used to think that inflammation was something that strictly had to do with the obvious, such as arthritis. I didn’t understand what it was, what caused it or how deeply it affects so many of us and in ways that I had never connected. Chris Kresser {one of my favorite holistic practitioners to follow} stated that “inflammation is at the root of nearly all modern disease, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease, allergies and many more. He went onto include mental health conditions such as depression.

So what IS inflammation? Well it really is designed to help us in a lot of ways. When our body is fighting issues such as damaged cells, viruses, bacteria, etc. it is a protocol meant to help and heal. What has happened, however, is that our modern day, American culture has created a situation with chronic inflammation that is not beneficial to us. This is due to our sedentary lifestyles, our highly processed foods, high stress, gut issues {because of a lot of these same things}, food sensitivities, etc.

One huge culprit is the oils and processed carbs in so much of our food such as: corn, soybean, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. Unfortunately these oils were pushed on us for years and our foods are so highly laden with them that we have developed a huge imbalance in Omega 6 & Omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory (best source: fatty fish -> sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon). Because Omega 6 fats are EVERYWHERE & in EVERYTHING (seriously, even the “healthy” stuff you think you’re buying…READ YOUR LABELS!), the ratio has just been too hard for our bodies to fight. Inflammation has taken over. And this is just ONE cause of inflammation!

Highly Inflammatory Oils to STAY AWAY FROM! One of the best things you can do TODAY to reduce chronic inflammation in your own body is to pay attention to your diet! Here are some tips:

  • Reduce sugar and processed carb intake {shop the perimeter of the store rather than buying mostly boxed/packaged items that are FULL of inflammatory ingredients.
  • Eat fats that reduce inflammation and protect our hearts and brains:
    • Organic coconut oil
    • Extra-virgin olive oil (organic)
    • Avocados
    • Grass-fed meats
    • Grass-fed butter
    • Nuts—walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia
    • Fatty fish—sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon (NOT Tilapia! It has almost ZERO omega 3 & unfortunately a lot of people love it because it is such a mild fish. Sorry friends! It’s not benefiting you like you might like to think it is!)
  • Use herbs & spices that help reduce inflammation:
    • Basil, chili peppers, cinnamon, curry powder, garlic, ginger, rosemary, turmeric and thyme (you can even get creative and make drinks/teas with these!)

Beyond the diet…here are some other tips:

Incorporate essential oils that help reduce inflammation:

  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Helichrysum
  • Basil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Wingergreen
  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Lemon
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Blue Tansy
  • Cilantro
  • Clary Sage
  • Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Lemongrass
  • Melalouca
  • Melissa
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Sandlewood
  • (You can order oils here & I am happy to help with any questions/guidance!)

Reduce stress, physical & emotional/mental
If you don’t have a good support system, plug into one! Find a church, find a support group, check out meetup.com for local groups there’s something for everyone, moms, hikers, singles, runners…etc. I started my own moms group when I was a stressed, working, single-mom in college and it was a SAVING GRACE!If you need a counselor, find one! Google therapists in your location. Many are willing to charge based on a sliding fee scale. There are lots on-line as well (even apps!). If nothing else, pick up a good book to help you trouble shoot things you are going through. One I love is Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s great for those of us who say “yes” FAR TOO MUCH and end up spread thin, stressed out, resentful and left with no energy for the things we need to pay attention to in our own lives.Listen to your body! I see way too many people over exercising thinking it will help them reach their goals. The sad thing is that I watch them get themselves stuck in a cycle where they can’t fathom the idea of peeling back {and don’t you dare suggest it to them} but they feel like crap and/or their body is holding onto fat, their immune system is breaking down and injuries occur all too easily.

So, there you have it. I hope you really take some time to switch things around if you are dealing with chronic inflammation. I know it can be confusing. Start with small steps…choose ONE THING to change and then go from there. No need to add more stress by trying to change everything all at once.

If you are in need of some support and more individualized guidance, feel free to connect with me for a free consultation. We can determine if some health coaching is what might benefit you! Just email me here: jessica@healthwithjess.com

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