Inflammation: What is it? What can you do about it?

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a protective mechanism of your body when your immune system has been stimulated to react and begin healing. There are two types of inflammation:

  1. Acute: This type of inflammation is a response to trauma (injury or exposure) such as a sprained ankle or  from infection (viral, bacterial or fungal) like influenza for example.
  2. Systemic/Chronic: Affects the entire body and  is associated with chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and allergies.

Signs of inflammation:

Local: Systemic:
  • Heat
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Loss of function
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep/Insomnia
  • Headache/migraine
  • Joint pain/stiffness
  • Digestive issues
  • Mood swings: anxiety, depression

In a healthy person there is usually some inflammation occurring all the time as part of  your body’s homeostasis (balancing the environment). Local inflammation is easily seen- your body responds quickly to protect itself.

Chronic inflammation can be “silent” with no real symptoms present yet you feel unwell. This kind of reaction may be due to an underlying problem that your body is attempting to fight or an unhealthy lifestyle. Heart disease, gum disease, smoking, poorly controlled diabetes /blood sugar regulation cause systemic inflammation. And so do poor diet, lack of exercise, stress and certain medications.

Four Easy steps to reduce Chronic Inflammation.

There are some simple steps you can take to reduce inflammation. Improving your diet is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation and support your body.  

  1. Eliminate highly refined foods (junk food, sugar, ready meals, bakery goods, trans-fats) from your diet. One of the simplest things you can do. These kinds of foods actually promote inflammation.
  2. Increase your daily servings of fresh vegetables: hitting your 5 serves daily and including all highly coloured produce. Highly coloured (red, purple, orange, yellow) produce contains many micronutrients that will help fight inflammation
  3. Omega 3 fats: these are commonly fats found in oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines) and are naturally anti-inflammatory. A minimum of 3 servings per week is required. Plant based sources of Omega 3 include Chia, avocado, walnut and hemp seed.
  4. Get moving: exercising regularly is a natural process for reducing inflammation. If you have joint pain and stiffness moving will actually help to reduce pain. Yoga, tai chi, swimming, dancing or any low impact, gentle exercise. Massage or physiotherapy that employs joint mobilisation techniques will also be of benefit.

Foods and herbs that reduce inflammation.

  • Turmeric/Curcurmin: Taken as a supplement or eaten in your diet, take it daily. Two tablespoons daily is recommended if you choose to eat it! Alternatively take a standardised extract (Curcurmin): Bioceuticals Theracurmin. Turmeric is contraindicated if you have gallbladder issues so please speak to your health care professional if you wish to take this supplement.
  • Boswellia: another great supplement, often found in combination with Curcurmin. This herb is particularly useful for joint pain and stiffness found in Osteoarthritis
  • Pineapple:  contains Bromelain, an enzyme that reduces many types of inflammation- hayfever, coughs and digestive issues can all be helped with pineapple. Eat the fresh fruit or can be found as a supplement.
  • Ginger:  simply adding ginger to your diet everyday can help reduce inflammation. Chop up the root and steep in hot water for a warming tea that will reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Other spices and herbs to include in your diet: chilli, garlic, Tulsi/Holy Basil, cinnamon, garlic, rosemary
  • Green Tea: 2-4 cups daily is recommended. (Remember that green tea contains caffeine so can be too stimulating late in the day if you have trouble sleeping).
Cacao is also a great anti-inflammatory food and combines well with these other spices to make a warming and tasty drink to enjoy in these cooler months
Course Easy
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder.
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ginger or ½ tsp grated raw
  • ½ teaspoon dried turmeric
  • pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • pinch of cardamom optional.
  • ½ teaspoon rice malt syrup or manuka honey to taste
  • ½ cup coconut milk or your milk of choice, warmed.
  • ½ cup boiling water

Method

  • Combine raw cacao powder and dried spices in a standard mug.
  • Fill mug halfway with boiling water and sweetener and stir until powders dissolve.
  • Pour in warmed coconut milk and stir to combine.
  • Serve.

 


Desley Hatfield | Naturopath

Desley is a degree qualified naturopath who has a clinic space at Mr Vitamins WellBeing Clinic in Ashfield. She believes that your health is in your hands and that naturopathy can guide you to better health and vitality. Desley is also an advocate of wholefoods and this is a strong area of work with her clients. You can book an appointment with Desley or contact for more information: book with Desley

Book a free “Introduction to Wellness” session with Desley to discuss how she can assist you.


References:

  1. https://draxe.com/symptoms/
  2. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/09/08/what-you-need-to-know-about-inflammation.aspx
  3. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/arthritis-and-exercise
Desley Hatfield
Desley Hatfield

Desley Hatfield is a Naturopath whose special interests include stress, fatigue and mental health issues but she is interested in working with anyone who is committed to improving their health and wellbeing. Food as medicine is a major part of Desley’s practice.