Inflammation can be a very good thing. When you twist your ankle and it gets red and swollen, you know things are working properly. That’s your body doing its job to heal. That’s a good thing.
The problem comes when there is chronic, and often silent, inflammation happening inside the body, at a cellular level – and you don’t even know it. This type of inflammation can ultimately lead to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and even cancer.
Chronic inflammation is often the result of a poor diet high in processed/fast foods, poorly managed stress and/or sleep deprivation. By making a concerted effort to consume a well rounded diet of whole foods, practicing stress management techniques, as well as creating a routine to ensure you get deep, productive sleep, you have the power to reduce chronic inflammation and greatly improve your health.
Interestingly, these same lifestyle changes are exactly what help to reduce symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes and brain fog!
A diet rich in antioxidants from whole foods is vital. Consume a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, well sourced animal or plant protein and healthy fats rich in Omega 3s. Much of the standard Western diet is overly high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which can be highly inflammatory when consumed in excess.
Both Omega 6 and Omega 3 are essential for the body – Omega 6 has the role of causing inflammation whilst Omega 3 does the opposite. We simply need to get the ratio in better balance.
Do your best to eliminate or reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well.
Incorporating stress management techniques into your daily routine helps to reduce inflammation too. Try some simple guided meditation, journalling, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscular relaxation. Yoga, dance or even a brisk walk outside can help to take the edge off. Or try engaging in a “flow” activity like colouring, crochet or sewing. Whatever works for you is the best practice to include into your daily life.
Deep restorative sleep not only makes for a better day, it also helps to decrease chronic inflammation. If this is a struggle for you, consider trying some of the following strategies:
- Create a bedtime routine so your body knows it’s time for sleep
- Go to bed and wake at the same time every day – even on the weekends
- Turn off all screens at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep
- Keep your bedroom exclusively for sleep and intimacy – no tv or workout equipment
- Take a warm bath with Epsom salts
Implementing some of these simple shifts can greatly improve your health and reduce chronic inflammation in the process. What are you going to try this week? Let me know in the comments below.
Finally, if you’re suffering with menopausal symptoms too, why not download a copy of my FREE ebook ‘Fifty, Fit and Fabulous – Midlife Mastery from the Inside Out’ for further tips on how to manage your menopause naturally.
Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching). She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!