Each person and body is different, but I recently became aware of the importance of personally managing inflammation after experiencing a series of back pain flare-ups. One of the things I always ask my doctor is: what can I change in my overall lifestyle to improve my health situation or prevent future issues? This is where we had a rather enlightening conversation about managing inflammation.

There has been more social talk about anti-inflammatory medications, food and lifestyles but what is inflammation and why should you care about managing it? Basically, inflammation is your body's response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals. When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. Inflammation can be good in certain healthy situations but chronic inflammatory issues can have serious long and short term health implications like:

  • joint pain
  • cancer
  • painful periods / erectile dysfunction
  • leaky gut and other stomach issues 
  • autoimmune disorders
  • cardiovascular disease
  • sleep issues
  • has been linked with depression
  • can sabotage weight loss efforts
  • can damage your skin and cause premature aging

Basically chronic inflammation can downgrade all of your sexy and prevent you from living your best life.

Signals that you may have chronic inflammation
  • belly fat
  • high blood glucose levels
  • allergies
  • fatigue
  • digestive problems like gas, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation
  • skin problems like eczema or psoriasis
  • puffy face or eyes
If you believe this could be a health issue for you, contact your doctor. In the mean time here some simple ways to reduce your risk of inflammation:

1. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods and reduce your consumption of foods known to cause inflammation.

Last year, during one of my last rounds with major back pain, I immediately went on a fast where I avoided gluten, dairy, peanuts and sugars. I also upped my consumption of anti-inflammatory foods and I noticed a huge change in the how quickly I recovered. I've been careful with my consumption of foods that trigger my inflammation ever since.

A great anti-Inflammatory diet includes

  • leafy greens
  • salmon
  • walnuts
  • fermented foods—like kimchi
  • garlic
  • turmeric
  • pineapple
  • papaya
  • beets
  • ginger
  • avoiding overly processed foods and refined sugars
2. Careful what you drink

Avoid alcoholic beverages as well as caffeine and consider drinking kombucha, green tea, or make an anti-inflammatory green leafy smoothie with a bit of pineapple and papaya.

3. Get more sleep

A nap pretty much seems to solve half of my problems, not much has changed since childhood. There is some research that shows that a lack of sleep causes inflammation. If you have issues falling or staying asleep, consider 
  • drinking sleep tea
  • consider a melatonin supplement (which was a game changer for me)
  • burn a lavender candle or use a lavender essential oil lotion before bed
  •  and stay away from the light of those digital devices like your tv or phone

4. Manage your mindset to manage your stress

Chronic stress can lead to inflammation in addition to many other health issues. If you have stressors, consider ways to avoid and expel them from your life but if its a difficult season (i.e. new parent, new job, or just life) there are ways to manage how you react to stress and create peace and calm, consider:
  • breathing exercises, prayer, and or meditation, try a great meditation app like headspace
  • exercise that non-stressful and improves your health and increases your joy (like pilates or dance)
  • avoid caffiene
  • be in community with people who you can trust and talk to (maybe that is a therapist or a BFF)
  • verbal positivity (talk to yourself, be encouraging and use verbal affirmations with yourself)
Managing inflammation, for me has been a game-changer, and has improved both my health and my skin.