Inflammation is something way too common in our bodies these days and fighting it through simple lifestyle choices is what we are aiming for every day.
The great thing about an anti-inflammatory lifestyle is that apart from reducing inflammation it also gives us a clearer mind, healthier looking skin, a strong and fit body, a calm and happy stomach and many other benefits.
Who wouldn’t want that every day?
Inflammation can be both good and bad
Inflammation is usually a normal and healthy response by our insanely clever immune system to deal with an injury or an attack by germs. We can see and feel it by local heat and redness, swelling or pain. It is a temporary and healthy effort in a specific part of our body. Without inflammation, infections and wounds would never heal.
The issue nowadays is that inflammation is getting more complicated, dressing up in many new costumes which we might have a hard time identifying. If inflammation reaches deep inside our bodies and hit internal organs, only some of the signs may be noticeable for us. If there is no sensory nerve ending nearby we will not feel any pain, perhaps only fatigue, which we often tend to link to our busy lifestyle or other things.
Inflammation can even fool our bodies and make the immune system believe it is something good and beneficial which should be let through the door, and once it has stepped inside our house it is making more damage than we can understand.
How inflammation hit us
This was the case for us when Jakob was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that no one knew how he had gotten or how to get rid of. The only solution was to take medication for the rest of his life. In his case inflammation had managed to get through the door and probably been manipulating his body for years.
It was misleading his immune system into believing his liver was an enemy which had to be attacked. This is what the doctors were seeing, that his immune system was attacking his liver and trying to break it down. Thankfully we noticed it while it was still relatively early stages and managed to stop it. Although, this was a symptom that for us was fairly easy to notice and link to inflammation. Surely there are many more subtle symptoms like brain fog, difficulty to focus or lack of energy which are harder to realize that they are also caused by the underlying inflammation.
The problem with chronic inflammation
When inflammation becomes chronic and operates hidden under the surface and below our threshold of pain it has the capacity to do a lot of damage to our organs. It may also trigger and drive underlying and dormant seeds of illness to grow, which would not have been the case had we not had inflammation in our bodies.
This kind of inflammation is usually a result of our lifestyle; bad diet, stress, lack of sleep, too much drinking, combined with all the chemicals we surround ourselves with and put on our bodies etc. It all comes together in a cocktail that for sure will not do us any good. It tends to slow us down in the form of lack of energy, older looking skin, swollen face or tummy, less power for workouts, lowered immune system, unstable blood sugar levels, upset stomach, joint pain or depression.
Looking back to before we started an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, we can see how Jakob was a classic example of this, suffering from many of the above symptoms. Most likely caused by the combination of a stressful job in London’s finance industry, lots of traveling including late nights, too much alcohol and unhealthy food. On top of that fitting in hard workouts and a personality that always gives more than 100% no matter what.
Judging the symptoms he was feeling, it is clear that he must have had chronic inflammation in his body for many years. Luckily, we decided to make many changes in our lives, including adopting an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and all these changes have resulted in Jakob being free from the life-long medication and feeling healthier and more energized than in a very long time.
Aiming for an anti-inflammatory lifestyle every day!
So does this mean that we have reached the final destination of our journey towards an anti-inflammatory lifestyle? Absolutely not! The journey will always continue, with the aim of being the best possible version of ourselves.
As mentioned before, inflammation is often caused by our lifestyle. So whilst some environmental factors like pollution, quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink and other chemicals around us might be hard to avoid, we have decided to focus on the things we can more easily influence in our daily life. As much as they will fight an inflammation, they will also boost our daily health and make us feel happy, energized and on top of the world.
To us, an anti-inflammatory lifestyle means:
Doing our best every day to boost our bodies with anti-inflammatory food, which can have a reverse effect on the inflammation. To eat good quality food, made by nature and not by man. Food is medicine and medicine is food (Hippocrates). When we eat foods in its original form, which have not been processed or modified by man, our bodies naturally know how to handle it and break it down in the best way possible. If we can also avoid most of the chemicals sprayed on fruits and vegetables we are also helping our bodies to fight inflammation.
In our house, we prioritize to cook food from scratch so that we know exactly what is in it. We also make sure we add lots of vegetables from different colors, allowing its polyphenols to come together and create super powers in our bodies which will fight inflammation and boost health. We make sure to eat a good quality of all the building blocks our bodies need, avoiding the foods that create inflammation and adding anti-inflammatory boosters like spices (lots of turmeric and ginger), berries and fermented foods. Check out our post What qualitarians eat to learn more about our philosophy around food.
Most research show that sleep is critical, not only for your health and immune system, but also for proper memory function, mood, performance and avoiding fatigue. Sleep is also a healing process for our bodies, a chance to repair cells and organs and deal with inflammation. A key factor in this is what time we go to bed, as we get the most quality sleep between 10pm – 2am. This also includes the routine of gradually slowing down in the evening and avoiding the blue light from TV, phones, ipads etc. an hour before bedtime. It is much better to wind down with a good book, crosswords or something meditative.
Also try to avoid too much room lighting in the evening as light stimulates the brain, making it harder to fall asleep. We try and go to bed around 9-9:30 in the evening which makes us wake up early and fresh in the morning. Allowing for rest and recovery is crucial in an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. For additional info on sleep, check out this post: How to prepare for a great nights sleep – routines!
Sugar and the spikes in blood sugar levels it creates will drive inflammation, like putting logs on the fire. When we say sugar, not only do we mean the obvious pure sugar we add for sweetness, but also carbohydrates which tend to behave the same way inside us. Some sources of carbs are better than others in the sense that they don’t create the same spike in blood sugar levels. For sweetening we prefer using small doses of fruits, berries and honey which apart from their natural sugar also provide vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. Check out our Healthy Recipe Corner for inspiration!
Exercise and movement naturally lower chronic inflammation and this is something our bodies need every day. It definitely doesn’t have to be a hard work-out or a running session every day. The most important thing is that you move your body in some way and it helps to vary different kinds of movement. Here it is crucial to listen to your body and check in to see how you feel before your brain decides what kind of exercise you need. Sometimes we need easier movement like walks, yoga or stretching, whereas when we feel energized we might opt for running/jogging, tabata exercises, muscle work-outs or other sports.
Key is to every now and then work up a sweat, regularly exercise your muscles and mix in the more relaxing movements to allow for recovery. This provides for a strong and fit body which will last for much longer and allow you to more easily move around once getting older.
Giving the brain (and rest of the body) a break
Our lives are filled with many kinds of stress and pressure these days, just by balancing work, family, friends, exercise and other activities! When our bodies feel stressed they balance by sending out the hormone cortisol to our bloodstream. This is no big deal if it were to happen occasionally, but a constant flow of cortisol will also drive inflammation like putting logs on the fire. In an anti-inflammatory lifestyle we need balance, and this means to every day making sure we give our brain some rest.
It could be by a few moments of deep breathing, meditation, relaxing yoga or being in nature. All of this will lower inflammation and at the same time re-charge our batteries. Surely you charge your phone’s battery once or twice every day, do the same for yourself! Meditation is something we personally work on constantly and try to use more frequently as we know it makes us feel good. For more info on meditation, check out this post Meditation – why and how to get started.
By practicing daily gratitude, you help your mind shift from negative thoughts to seeing the positive around you and being grateful for it. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle to us also includes having a happy and healthy brain and mind. Everything in your body is connected and negative or worrisome thoughts will have a negative impact on the rest of your body and drive inflammation. On the other hand, positive thoughts will do the opposite and boost your well-being!
We practice daily gratitude either in the morning or in the evening or both. We then focus on all the good things around us, appreciate them and go through all the positives that happened during the day. It also makes you feel great as you remind yourself every day about how blessed you are! Check out our post Change your life with gratitude journaling.
So come on and join us in an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and the journey towards becoming the best possible version of ourselves!