Inflammation: How to Help Fight it with Food and Lifestyle
Inflammation has become a buzz word and symptom plaguing adults everywhere. Providers hear complaints daily of achy hands, sore knees and stiff hips. Beyond the standard “work on diet and exercise”, here is what you can do to decrease your inflammation and start feeling better.
- Manage your stress! Physical, emotional and psychological stress are major culprits to your body’s aches and pains. A constant state of fight or flight response can do major damage. Managing stress can relax your blood vessels and decrease the production of stress hormones.
- Try This! Take up yoga, a relaxing bedtime routine or daily lunchtime walks to help keep on top of stress.
- Watch your sugar and refined grain intake. Grains get a bad rap, but they can be a wonderful source of carbohydrates and nutrients. But refined carbohydrates tend to be lower in fiber and protein, but higher in sugar and fat. Studies show whole grains may be protective against inflammatory processes.
- Try This! Incorporate a variety of whole grains into your meal plan – barley, bulgur and oats are nutritious options. Don’t forget to eat more plants! Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are anti-inflammatory power houses.
- Limit Saturated and Trans fats. These two are known as “bad fats” because of their impact on heart disease and cholesterol. Dairy products, processed sweets and red meat are high in saturated fat. Whereas, omega 3 fatty acids are important for development and may also help with inflammation and joint pain. There is no official recommendation on how much omega 3 fats to include in the diet, however adequate intakes are reported at 1.1-1.6 grams.
- Try This! Food sources of omega 3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, walnuts and ground flaxseeds. 1 oz. of walnuts provides 2.6 grams!
- Be active. It’s no secret that the rise of obesity steadily increased along with chronic and inflammatory conditions. Exercise is a piece of the healthy lifestyle puzzle and can help with weight loss which decreases stress on joints.
- Try This! Aim for 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity per week. Think swimming, walking and biking. If that seems too far-fetched, start with daily walks after dinner to get moving.
Inflammation can stem from so many areas of our life – work, finances, family and more. Practicing self-care in the areas of stress management, nutrition and exercise can have a major impact on health and well-being. As with all things, start small to achieve long term sustainable changes and work with your medical provider before making changes. Keep a journal to track how you feel – from there you can develop your lifestyle plan for inflammation and health.
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.