Inflammation. It seems like such an innocent word, yet it is filled with pains, aches, and woes in all of us. Increased muscle soreness, joint pain, diseases, cancers, digestive issues, depression, emotional imbalances, autoimmune diseases- these are just some of the few human ailments that are linked with increased inflammation in the body. I am not saying that inflammation is always a bad thing to have. Actually, it is part of the natural healing process of the body and it is an essential part of healing from injuries, surgeries, and traumas. In acute healing phases, inflammation is a good thing. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us. My real issue here is when talking about chronic inflammation. That is when the body starts to break down, wear down, and lose it’s functioning efficiency. When you are trying to be a badass in your workouts, this is going to really set you back, right? You bet your badass it will.
In my health world, it is all about whole person health. Our bodies are designed to work as a whole unit. That is why training the body with functional whole movements will be more beneficial than breaking down every single body part as a singular piece. Now, I am not saying that that doesn’t have a place every so often— it does— but it is only a piece of the puzzle. Just like spirituality and connectedness to a higher purpose; on the outside it may not appear to be super important when transforming your health or even trying to lose a few digits on the scale. But, it is quite important and, if you want to be successful, jumping on the higher purpose bandwagon is going to set you on a fast(er) track towards success. The world of nutrition is no different. I have a friend who eats horribly. She will eat whatever looks good, tastes good, is advertised as “healthy” (when she is “on a diet”), or whatever has the lowest Weight Watchers points on the packages. She tells me that the more she exercises, the more her body will burn off the calories. “I exercise so I can eat whatever I want to eat.” She literally said that to me! I actually agree with her. You heard me right. I agree with her, but I only agree when putting a big ole’ fat asterick behind that statement. See, I used to be her and I thought that I could eat whatever I wanted. If my pants were getting tight, then I would exercise more. If my body hurt, I would stretch more. If stretching didn’t work, I would focus on different muscle groups and let the achy muscles rest a bit. I don’t know about you, but I have never exercised hard enough to fully feel amazing after eating a donut or a large vat of french fries. Never ever, no matter how much I justified it. And my body never felt good after pushing harder day in and day out without proper rest (and I couldn’t rest or I would feel “fat”). Discovering the whole body approach to feeling amazing and getting into the best shape of your life took years to discover, but it all made sense and, when applied, it gets you results. In lieu of this blog topic, those results are decreased inflammation in the body so you can rock out those workouts like the badass self-confident person you are.
The sugar, the white flour, and the vegetable/peanut oils that those french fries and donuts are made with are what causes the inflammation. These three ingredients are just a few of the long list of highly inflammatory foods and, when consumed, create an acidic environment within your body. Disease, inflammation, cancers, and other negative side effects thrive on an acidic environment. That is how they breed and survive. When you can create an environment that is more alkaline (but not too alkaline) and closer to your body’s optimal pH level, inflammation decreases, along with the aches and pains of life.
Give me some of the good stuff…
I am kind of a junkie. A low inflammation food junkie, that is. Here are some of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods to get you on the right track towards healing and increased energy:
- Dark leafy greens: Think kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli— these powerhouse foods are not only high in antioxidants and healing flavonoids, but they also contain a compound called “quercetin,” which acts much like anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin). Yes! But how? Toss a handful of spinach in your morning smoothie or throw together some chopped up kale, carrots, and raisins for a delicious kale salad. You can also toss a handful of spinach into your morning omelette and cook until leaves are wilted.
- Turmeric: Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and it is a very powerful antioxidant and has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. They are so powerful that even studies have shown that curcumin is more powerful in decreasing inflammation than anti-inflammatory drugs. Yes! But how? Add some turmeric to your morning egg scrabble, season your roasted veggies, toss some into your smoothie (be careful how much you put in because the taste can be overpowering), or drink a turmeric tea.
- Blueberries: An antioxidant powerhouse, blueberries are high in phytonutrients that are buzzing with anti-inflammatory protection. They protect against many diseases, such as cancer and dementia. Yes! But how? Add them to your salad, use them for your morning smoothie, freeze them and eat them as a cold treat, or top your favorite healthy dessert with a handful of them.
- Wild-caught salmon: No farmed salmon here! Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, that are known for their inflammation slashing. The benefits of omega-3 have been backed over and over by studies. They are shown to reducing symptoms of psychological disorders, preventing heart disease, and reducing your risk of cancer. Yes! But how? 2X a week, add salmon to your diet. Salmon fillets with lemon juice are a great choice! If getting in salmon is pretty challenging, opt for supplementation by a liquid or a capsule most days a week.
- Coconut oil: This is by far my favorite! And for good reason— Coconut oil is not only anti-inflammatory, but it also boosts metabolism, helps balance hormones, and has anti-microbial properties. As long as you are not allergic to coconut, I advocate for you to get it into your diet. It is truly a healing powerhouse. Yes! But how? Try adding it to your morning shakes, sauté your leafy greens in it, roast your turmeric root vegetables in it, or use it as a spread on your sprouted grain bread. Remember, the skin is an absorbable organ. You can use coconut oil externally too. Use coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of the expensive, paraben-laden cosmetics from the beauty counter.
Take action now! How are you going to slash your inflammation and create a more alkaline, less acidic body? Start by planning out how you will incorporate these foods. Start with just 1 or 2 and then add on as you are ready. Now, share my “Shout And Share” with all your friends to help get them set up for success in their new habit!
Go to the comment section. Make a comment and let me know what you have struggled with, what you have tried, and what your action plan is. The best discussions start between like-minded friends! Share this with your friends and get more people in on the action.
Do you want to learn more? This was a just a snippet into how you can apply this to your own life. If you are craving more and need to make a change in your life right now (or even if you are scared and don’t know what to do), I am here to guide you in the right direction. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what you can do to get you from where you are now to where you always dreamed you wanted to be!
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