3 More Ways to Naturally Lower Inflammation
Welcome back to the third installment in our series on decreasing chronic inflammation associated with chronic pain and chronic disease. You can catch up on the previous articles here and here.
With an estimated 1 in 2 Americans with at least one chronic disease and 1 in 3 with at least 2 chronic conditions (cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, chronic lung conditions, arthritis, other chronic joint disorders, or auto-immune disorders) finding natural ways to lower or reduce chronic inflammation in conjunction with or without medicine is becoming a popular topic of conversation in the Healthy Living By Margreta community.
In my previous articles, I discussed 3 foods that elevate inflammation and 3 foods that assist in decreasing inflammation. Today we are going to discuss three other ways to help reduce inflammation that doesn’t involve your diet.
3 Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation
We have a tendency to associate the word stress with just the “bad” stress like looming work deadlines, major life events, unexpected events, financial constraints. Stress can also be good or beneficial for us when we perceive it as exciting, meaningful, or if it’ll have a positive outcome.
All of us have an optimal level of stress, not enough and we’re bored, too much and we cross over into distress. Just like an athlete who tries to achieve their peak success at their competition and structures their training programming to achieve that peak performance, it is beneficial to learn & understand your level of peak/optimal stress.
Along with learning your cycle of good, optimal stress to distress level, it’s helpful to develop stress management systems to help you right the ship so to speak and get back to your optimal level. The systems I help clients develop include mindful practices like Pilates, yoga, and hiking, meditation, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Mindful practices have been shown to help reduce stress by helping the individual connect with their thoughts, emotions, and body. Not everyone responds the same way to mindful practices and it may take several purposeful sessions to develop the right routine or exercise that works for you.
Hydration or drinking enough water is certainly a fitness and health buzzword. It’s often one of the first topics trainers and health coaches discuss with their clients. I’m going to sidestep from just preaching water but also to include other zero-calorie drinks...in moderation.
Water is ideal, but many people don’t like the taste of plain water, and to be honest, I hate tap water. I can taste the chemicals to make it safe for us to consume. We need those chemicals in the water so that it’s safe and we don’t get water-borne diseases like cholera. And if you like the taste, rock on! Drink up!
Me? I boil my water and then filter it. I grew up on boiled water that was then filtered and as an adult, I experimented with many water filters to try and save some time and I’ve reverted to emulating my parents. I’m not advocating that you try this, but if you don’t like the taste of water that has been filtered, try the first step of boiling it, let it cool, then run it through the filter. There will be nothing left in that water, if you still don’t like it, well then, the next part of this section is for you.
Add sliced fruit. Not those commercially available flavorings, they sneak in sugar & sugar substitutes. My favorites are lemon, oranges, limes, pineapple, and my personal summer favorite strawberry + basil. Any fruit that you like will most likely taste good in your water. If you already do this, I’d love to know your favorite fruit combos, comment on this post and let me know!
If you’ve ever seen me before 2 pm, chances are you see me drinking one of three non-calorie drinks: water, tea, or coffee. I love tea, black, green, and herbal teas...I keep over 20 varieties of tea in my house.
Here’s my most controversial statement on hydration: If you’re thirsty, drink. If your urine is darker, drink some water. I’m not going to tell you how much to drink because there’s no magical formula, everyone’s bodies are different from your hormones, DNA, exercise intensity, work activity levels, and nutrition. Fruit and vegetables are hydrating, especially watermelon and iceberg lettuce. If you are eating plenty of fruit and vegetables every day you are getting water there too.
Exercise is incredibly important in helping us manage stress. Some of us feel the need to “burn the stress away” and others need the more mindful practices of pilates, yoga, tai chi, walking, swimming, or hiking. One of my favorite stress reliefs is swimming, for me, there’s something soothing about the water flowing over my while I’m sprinting 25m down and back and leaving my lungs somewhere at the bottom of the pool. Intense exercise isn’t the way for many of us to relax and de-stress.
As a Pilates instructor, I’ve also learned to appreciate and respect the process of starting class with breathing exercises to help us connect with our bodies, focus the mind, and prepare the lungs for the next 50 minutes of purposeful exercise.
Whether you need the intensity of vigorous exercise or the connection to your mind and body, exercise stimulates the body to release hormones that improve our mood, reduce chronic inflammation hormones (like cortisol), and releases the body’s natural painkillers. The best part? Walking around your neighborhood or treadmill, even for as little as 20 minutes will cause the body to release these exercise hormones - you don’t have to go all-in and leave sweat puddles on the floor.
If you are enjoying these articles and want to learn more about naturally reducing inflammation, join our FREE 5 Day Challenge: Naturally Reduce Inflammation. You will get access to my Eating BEST Practices, mindfulness strategies, and exercise for reducing inflammation. Starts June 8th! Register now!