In 52 Healthy Changes, Everyday Life, Newsletter

t could be argued that this post should have come at the beginning of the 52 Healthy Changes series. But healthy changes take baby steps, and we’re nearing the home stretch, so it’s time to put on our game faces! This next series of changes will all fall under the umbrella of one change that may prove the most beneficial of anything we’ve adapted yet: Fighting Inflammation.

Inflammation is proving to be at the root of many diseases, so it would make sense we do our best to eliminate this disease causing culprit, no? The reality is, each of us has dealt with, or is currently dealing with, a symptom of inflammation…and may not even realize it! 

To be clear, not all inflammation is harmful. A simple sprain, a sunburn, a minor cut. a bacterial or viral infection, all these require a period of inflammation to help protect and heal the injury, but a healthy body also knows when to turn the inflammation off so as not to cause other issues.

When we put constant undue stress on our bodies (stressful job, lack of sleep, poor diet, extreme caloric deficit, excessive exercise, etc.) our immune system will fight back in response. This typically means an inflammatory response to try and protect the body from the damage of the stress. If this stress isn’t recognized and removed, our body will go into a state of chronic inflammation.

“Chronic inflammation is when your body no longer has the ability to turn off the inflammatory response and it starts damaging healthy tissue in your body. It could damage the intestinal lining in your gut and cause digestive problems, it could damage the arteries in your heart and cause heart disease, or it could damage your joints and cause rheumatoid arthritis.”

Unfortunately, inflammation can go on unnoticed for years within our bodies. We may not even notice any symptoms of this stress. But the truth is, our bodies can only handle so much before it becomes too much. We want to do our best to avoid life-long, debilitating symptoms, but even if you’ve noticed signs of inflammation, there’s still hope, and much to be done!

So how do we eliminate inflammation?

I’m glad you asked! There are many things you can do to help fight and eliminate inflammation, but keeping inflammation at bay is a lifelong process, not a one time goal. Here is a list of multiple ways to help assist our bodies to minimize unwanted inflammation. We’ll briefly touch on these in this post, and in the weeks to come we’ll discuss, more in depth, what each of these options looks like on a daily basis.

  • Leaky Gut Syndrome: Probably the number one culprit for inflammation is LGS. And you can’t eliminate inflammation while dealing with a leaky gut. Read this post and take the short quiz to determine if you have LGS.
  • Ditch processed and refined foods: In other words? Eat real food! Remember Healthy Change #33 and our food list? That’s a great place to start if you’re not sure what to eat! You can also check out this post: What is a Healthy Diet? Included in the post is a sample menu of a typical day in the Steffen home.
  • Know your oils: Highly processed and refined cooking oils are cheap, but the damage they do to our bodies won’t save a dime in the long-run. It’s imperative to remove fats with high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. These include oils such as soy and corn oils. For more information on which oils to choose from, read Healthy Change #3: Know Your Cooking Oils.
  • Listen to your body: Our bodies are big communicators and they don’t like to keep us in the dark. They’re constantly sending messages letting us know which foods make us feel great, and which foods make us feel horrible. Start listening to your body!
  • Ditch refined and highly processed sugar: Sugar is a big no-no for inflammation, and a constant roller-coaster of high and low blood sugars wreak havoc on our bodies. If you haven’t watched “That Sugar Film” from Healthy Change #29, I highly suggest you make the time to do so.
  • Eat adequate protein: Meatless Monday? Maybe…but maybe not! Not if it means omitting protein altogether. A well balanced diet that consists of adequate protein is essential for keeping a healthy immune system. And when your immune system is weak, inflammation is strong. Sourcing quality meat is important, as meat that comes filled with hormones and antibiotics can have as much of a negative effect on our immune system as no protein at all.
  • Don’t forget about nature’s little scrub brush: Veggies are full of fiber, and this fiber keeps us regular! Partially digested food particles can become “stuck” in our intestines without adequate fiber (and liquids) to keep things moving. If you don’t visit the loo on a regular basis, take a look at your daily veggie intake. Are you eating enough vegetables at each meal? If not, it may be time to make nice with Mr. Broccoli!
  • Know your grains: Eliminating grain may not be necessary to fight off inflammation, but eating the right kind of grain, and properly preparing your grain is a must. Read this post: Why Soak Grain? for more information.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: As I mentioned above, without adequate fiber and liquid intake things can get sluggish in our bellies. Also, if we become dehydrated, our colon will reabsorb any liquids it can which can be a setup for other uncomfortable side effects. All this makes us a prime candidate for Leaky Gut Syndrome. To keep things moving, be sure to get adequate water.
  • Probiotics: Keep that gut happy and healthy with a plentiful supply of “good guys” (beneficial bacteria). A strong gut will successfully ward off unwanted toxins from an unhealthy diet.
  • Essential Oils: There are many essential oils that contain anti-inflammatory properties and can be used topically to help support your immune system and fight off inflammation. Simply adding citrus essential oils, which contain d-limonene (a powerful anti-inflammatory terpene found within the oil), to water and sipping throughout the day can reduce inflammation. D-limonene has the ability to help improve indigestion, acid reflux and sluggish bowels, all which can be tied to inflammation. (Be sure to use 100% pure essential oils, we use and trust Plant Therapy and love their affordable prices and free shipping!)
  • Stress: Another topic we’ve previously discussed, but stress is another avenue for inflammation to enter. Refresh yourself on Identifying Stress and ways to Eliminate Sources of Stress in your life.
  • Sleep: Lack of sleep equates to stress on our bodies, and stress on our bodies results in inflammation. Do your utmost to get your Z’s, and keep inflammation at bay.

Please don’t look at this list and get stressed out! Remember? Stress can cause inflammation! And that’s counterproductive. If you’ve been following along with us in our 52 Healthy Changes series you know it’s about doing what you can, when you can. But don’t let yourself off the hook! It becomes too easy to say, “I’ll start Monday”. Do what you can today, and let what you can’t control wait for another day. Remember, we only get one shot at this life! We want to make it count, and feeling good should hopefully be motivation enough for us to make big changes.

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Sources: Dr. Mercola, Dr. Axe, Mind Body Green, SCD Lifestyle

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    Excellent article, Kelsey!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      Thank you Betsy!

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