Headaches, bloating, digestive distress, and acne can all be signs your immune system is on edge, causing chronic inflammation. You see, our immune system is built to protect us from illness and injury, jumping into action the moment it recognizes something has gone wrong. So as processed foods invade our food pyramid, and we’re exposed to more and more toxins every day, our immune cells see these objects as invaders and go into attack mode, resulting in overactive inflammation.
Not all inflammation is bad, though. We depend on it to combat a cold-causing virus or help us heal from a sprained ankle, among many other benefits. This immune response turns on when it detects something has gone wrong, and subsides when things return to normal. So it makes sense that, in a world where we’re constantly being exposed to processed foods and environmental toxins which our system views as foreign, it doesn’t know how to turn off, resulting in chronic inflammation, and over time, a weakened immune system.
This can explain why someone who eats highly processed foods or is exposed to numerous toxins may have a harder time recovering from something as common as the winter cold. In fact, when my autoimmune disease was as its worst just three years ago, it took me 6 weeks to recover from a simple cold! My immune system was overtaxed and could no longer protect me from the fundamental illness (or distress) it was created to protect against.
The good news is there are many effective and completely natural ways to overcome chronic inflammation, all of which I use personally, that led me on my own path to recovery. Along with following recommendations listed below, I highly recommend reducing the processed foods in your diet by incorporating organic and all natural foods instead. If you’re not sure where to start, l’m here to help!
Here are 5 ways you can beat inflammation the natural way:
You may know of turmeric as the main spice in curry, but it’s being dubbed the most powerful herb on the planet for fighting (and potentially reversing) disease, according to Dr. Axe and many other professionals. Curcumin, the healing compound found in turmeric, has the ability to control inflammation, making turmeric a miracle maker for those of us with chronic inflammation.
Here’s how to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet to combat inflammation:
- Turmeric Tea. Swap out your afternoon coffee with turmeric tea (this is a great brand), or have a warming, relaxing cup before bed.
- Turmeric Powder. Add turmeric powder (like this one) to your smoothies, entrees, roasted veggies, soups and even bone broth (check out this turmeric bone broth from Dr. Axe).
- Turmeric Supplements. Don’t care for the taste of turmeric or aren’t ready to incorporate it into your food? This is a good supplement to take to get started.
- Bone Broth
Bone broth is right up there with turmeric for being one of the most powerful and natural anti-inflammatory foods. Simmering animal bones for 24-48 hours causes them to release healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, proline and glycine that induce anti-inflammatory properties. When consumed regularly, bone broth is beneficial in recovering from cold and flu symptoms, healing leaky gut, and reducing allergies and even arthritis.
Here’s how to incorporate bone broth into your daily diet to combat inflammation:
- Drink a cup first thing in the morning to kickstart gut repair and nourish your body
- Incorporate it in your cooking by sauteeing veggies in it, using it as the base for a soup, etc.
Peppermint has been used medicinally for thousands of years, aiding in treating colds, headaches, digestive issues like IBS, and much more. It can be taken topically (by applying peppermint oil to an afflicted area) or ingested (such as drinking peppermint tea) depending on your purpose for drinking it.
Peppermint is especially beneficial for those with digestive distress, soothing the muscles in your stomach and improving the flow of bile. Just be careful if you have severe GERD, as peppermint can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can worsen GERD symptoms, so drink it in smaller quantities and stay upright for a while after drinking, to start.
Here’s how to incorporate peppermint into your daily diet to combat inflammation:
- Peppermint Oil. If you’re looking for relief from a cold, diffuse peppermint oil (like this organic one) to soothe your nasal passages. If you have a headache or menstrual cramps, blend peppermint oil with a base oil like coconut, jojoba or almond oil and apply to the area with the most pain for quick relief.
- Peppermint Tea. Drinking a cup of peppermint tea (such as this brand) each day is a great way to soothe digestive discomfort. In fact, when combined with marshmallow root tea (you can find it here), which also has healing properties for the gut, you can experience incredible relief.
“All disease begins in the gut”, as told by the age-old Hippocratic saying. And it makes sense, given that most of us dealing with other issues likely have some gut dysfunction going on, which is often where the imbalance originated. So it’s a good idea to begin by feeding your gut with good bacteria to restore your health.
I often recommend to clients dealing with chronic digestive or inflammatory (autoimmune) disorders, to take a probiotic with 50 billion CFU (colony forming units) and be sure the probiotic is live. Most of the cheap probiotics sold in stores are actually dead bacteria, and have a much lower CFU count, effectively doing nothing for you. So it’s worth spending a little more money to get the real benefits. Even more, it’s a good idea to switch up probiotic brands every few months. Let me know if you’d like recommendations on what probiotic is right for you, as it can differ person-to-person.
Last, but just as important, is your mindset! The fact is, you can put as much good food in your body as you want, but if you feel rushed, anxious, angry, etc., your body will likely be in fight or flight mode, putting more energy towards vital organs and less towards digestion, meaning you’ll be less able to digest all the good foods you’re about to eat!
So how do you become more mindful? A few quick and easy tips:
- Take a few deep breaths before you eat to calm your mind and body
- Chew slower to appreciate the taste of the good food you are eating (this also aids in the digestive process, taking in more nutrients)
- Eat with good company and smile!
- After you’re done eating, take a few more deep breaths and appreciate what you just ate
If you’re up for it, take up a yoga and/or meditation practice to reaffirm these practices and learn from the mindfulness experts themselves.
Implementing Anti-Inflammatory Foods Into Your Diet
I could write a whole blog series (and I probably will soon!) about what an entire anti-inflammatory diet is, having been on one myself for many years, but this is a great starting point for anyone looking to start feeling better now. It begins with cleaning up what you eat, then incorporating one, if not all, of these tips, and finding ways to make them lasting habits.
If you’d like to dig deeper on your specific symptoms, feel better through diet and lifestyle changes, and create lasting habits, let’s talk! I work with clients across a broad range of inflammatory diseases to pinpoint what’s wrong and develop a roadmap to wellness specific to each person, because, afterall, we’re all unique, and so we require a unique diet fit for our bodies’ specific needs to feel well — and thrive!
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