Around this time of year we all need to be paying particular attention to our health and wellbeing. And I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that with a virus on the loose, it’s even more important than ever to support our bodies and our innate defence systems. So why is the title of this post to do with inflammation?
Inflammation is not something that we typically tend to diagnose in the same way as a flu or a stomach bug. Unless there are visible signs of inflammation on the skin (itching, swelling, redness etc), it’s tough to know if you could be suffering with low level, chronic inflammation. Yet so many of us are suffering in silence, unaware that the eczema or psoriasis we suffer from is a sign of inflammation, or the constant coughs and colds, feeling under the weather, fatigue, depression and anxiety, poor digestion and gut health.
Inflammation is our body’s first defence. So whenever there’s anything happening that’s throwing our delicate balance out of whack (that could be as simple as burning the candle at both ends combined with a poor diet or as serious as a viral infection) the first thing that will happen is the initiation of the inflammatory pathways which bring about a cascade of reactions designed to help clear the body of whatever is attacking it. In the short term this is a fantastic and necessary function, but long term, chronic inflammation is detrimental to our overall well being and is at the root of so many 21st Century illnesses.
These days with our lifestyles as they are (stressed a lot of the time, lacking good quality sleep, not getting our light environments right and diets lacking in key nutrients) it’s pretty easy to stay in this state of low-level inflammatory response for far too long. We then might start to notice other symptoms crop up: maybe a reaction of the skin, maybe digestive issues, fatigue that you just can’t shift, always picking up a cough, cold or runny nose…
I think that many of us are really aware of ‘inflammation’ as a concept, and certainly lots of supplement brands have picked up the trail and will try and sell you products to calm inflammation or push ingredients for their anti-inflammatory properties. But it’s actually pretty legit! We could all use a bit of anti-inflammatory support every now and again. So how do we go about tackling inflammation and finding our path back to peak health?
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How to reduce inflammation
To be honest you’ve got to go all in with the bullet points below, and no one point is necessarily more important than the other. That being said, if I was going to have to choose one thing to really drill in to you all as a really effective method of calming inflammation and allowing your body to heal and thrive it would be finding a way to reduce your stress and get yourself back into that Parasympathetic nervous system state (i.e. the opposite of the ‘fight or flight response’).
The easiest and most effective way to do this is to do more of what makes you happy, laugh more, dance more, sing more etc. And if that fails then you can always come back to some breathwork. Breathwork is fantastic as with just a simple nasal breath you can basically guarantee that you’ll drop into this parasympathetic state. Only when we’re in this side of our nervous system does our body switch on its healing faculties and start the really important work of reducing chronic inflammation.
Next up is sleep because sleep is the number one thing we can do for our immune system, and the inflammatory response is initiated by our immune system. There are a few things that could be stopping you from getting good quality sleep:
- Eating too late in the evening (try to leave 3 hours before bed)
- Too much artificial light
- Not enough daylight first thing in the morning
And lastly, diet. Diet is so fundamental because we can either positively or negatively influence our levels of inflammation just by what food we choose to put in our mouth. The principles of the ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet are lots of fruits and vegetables, anti-inflammatory fats like omega 3 from oily fish, not too many pro-inflammatory grains and cereals and no processed food or alcohol. It’s pretty simple when it comes down to it, eat what’s in season and choose food of a high quality, i.e. organic and grass fed if possible.
You’ll be pleased to hear that all of the Presscription juice cleanses are made with organic fruits and vegetables, with a strict 80% veg to 20% fruit ratio to keep sugar levels low and gut bacteria happy. Supplementing your diet with some organic green juices and immunity shots (hello ginger and turmeric!) is a really great way of upping the ante when it comes to supporting your body through an inflammatory flare.
And remember, if all else fails, just breathe.