From ginger tea to sweating – 7 easy ways to fight inflammation

INFLAMMATION is usually a sure sign that something’s wrong.

Part of your body’s natural healing response, you might have banged your knee and it’s got hot, red and swollen.

Joint pain can be a sign of inflammation

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Joint pain can be a sign of inflammationCredit: Getty – Contributor

But sometimes, inflammation happens by mistake, aggravating areas of the body where there isn’t actually an infection to fight, or trauma to fix.

And this can lead to autoimmunity and inflammatory disease.

Scientists believe that common grumbles such as allergies, joint pain, chronic fatigue, anxiety and frequent infections are all potential symptoms of inflammation, a growing complaint that affects millions of people worldwide.

“Inflammation is defined as a localized reaction that produces redness, warmth, swelling, and pain as a result of infection, or injury,” says Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist & Functional Medicine Practitioner, Olianna Gourlis (naturopathy-med.com).

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“Inflammation is the body’s attempt at protecting itself by removing something it perceives to be harmful and allowing healing to begin.

“We need a low level of inflammation for all metabolic processes to occur but the disorder comes when we have too much of it and unfortunately, in the Western world, this is becoming more common due to our diets and lifestyles.”

While it’s easy to blame an unhealthy diet rife with trans fats and sugar, the latter being well recognized as a culprit of inflammation according to scientists, even the healthiest yogis akin to Gwyneth Paltrow aren’t escaping unscathed.

Professor B. Paul Morgan of Cardiff University believes that COVID aside, our fast paced, high-stress lifestyles are leading to a rise in a persistent biological reaction.

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“The process of inflammation guides the defense against infection and brings in cells that destroy the invader, but when that gets out of control it can actually drive disease instead, acting as a trigger,” he explains.

“That often seems to happen when there’s a tipping point where the system is in overdrive, perhaps due to stress, diet, lack of sleep or other lifestyle factors.

“The defense becomes an overwhelming challenge and the normal brakes fail to slow it down.”

What comes next is inflammation showing up in a physical sense, be it eczema or rosacea, arthritis, weight gain or loss, headaches and menstrual pain.

Although the aforementioned could also be symptoms of other biological shortcomings, Olianna stresses the importance of getting to the root of the problem with specific testing.

“There are direct markers of inflammation which can be tested,” she says.

“ESR (measures the rate of red blood cells in the blood) and CPK (if this is high it often means there has been injury or stress to muscle tissue, the heart, or the brain), calprotectin (a protein biomarker that is present in faeces when intestinal inflammation occurs).

“There are also indirect markers such as fasting glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin (to test for diabetes), insulin levels and high cholesterol is another marker of inflammation – these can all be done at your local doctors.

“If results are all normal and your clinician suspects inflammation, they may run further functional testing to rule out any hidden inflammation, due to chronic viral infections, gut permeability, food intolerances and so on.”

Tackling inflammation Gwyneth-style includes a kooky treatment plan one might expect from the controversial wellness warrior – the actor says she tried intermittent fasting combined with eating kimchi (fermented cabbage) and guzzling kombucha (fermented tea) and plenty of infrared saunas.

But for us mother mortals, the answer may require a lifestyle overhaul and a lot of patience.

Your Anti-Inflammatory Shopping List

Naturopath Olianna Gourlis suggests stocking your pantry with these Mediterranean-style foods that can help manage inflammation levels…

  • Cold-pressed oils (olive, flaxseed and coconut)
  • Nuts, seeds and their butters (especially chis, flax, hemp seeds and walnuts or pecans)
  • Lawyers
  • Oily fish (sardines, mackerel, wild salmon, herring, anchovies)
  • Vegetables
  • Pasture-raised eggs
  • Grass-fed meats/wild-game
  • Organic and seasonal fruit and vegetables (should aim for ten portions per day of all colours, but no more than two fruits per day) berries, dark green leafy vegetables, brassicas, garlic, apples, red grapes, pomegranate, herbs, cherries, pineapple are all especially good for inflammation
  • Plenty of fresh herbs and spices (turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, basil, oregano, cocoa powder etc)
  • 24-hour fermented bone broth
  • Fermented vegetables (olives, sauerkraut etc)
  • green tea
  • A golden milk drink is an excellent anti-inflammatory beverage (warming up plant-based milk with turmeric, cinnamon and ginger)

“It’s important to first determine the cause of the inflammation with your doctor but there is evidence that using a selenium supplement can reduce chronic inflammation – it’s one of many supplements that might have some effect and no harm in trying as long as you stick to the recommended dose,” Paul explains.

“Vitamin B3 also has the best evidence base among these agents and is proven to help the function of our digestive system, skin and nervous system.”

Paul (and NHS bumps) are quick to dispute the use of infrared saunas and fasting as cure-all treatments for long COVID.

“There is no evidence base for fasting and I would not recommend this in post-Covid-19 patients,” he says.

Olianna recommends high doses of vitamin D, Boswellia, a strong multivitamin, curcumin, high-strength probiotics, quercetin, glutamine, resveratrol and digestive enzymes.

7 Ways To Treat Inflammation

Alex Ruani, a Doctoral Researcher in nutrition science education at University College London and Chief Science Educator at The Health Sciences Academy, shares her top tips for helping heal chronic inflammation:

1. Improve your diet

Limit sugar and minimize processed meats and trans fats.

Avoid frying, burning or barbecuing, which results in the production of pro-inflammatory agents.

2. Maintain a healthy body weight

Limit your calorie intake and increase your intake of fibre-rich plant foods, probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt, polyphenols from berries, herbs and spices, and omega 3 from oily fish, egg yolks, and flaxseeds.

3. Avoid alcohol

Heavy drinking may increase intestinal hyper-permeability (‘leaky gut’), in turn driving widespread inflammation.

Opt for herbal teas and infusions like ginger, nettle, and rosehip which are associated with lowering inflammatory markers.

4. Get enough sleep

This is very important, as levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) tends to be higher in people who don’t sleep well.

5. Manage stress

Try reading, nature walking, and strengthening your coping skills in the face of adversity as feeling chronically stressed contributes to chronic inflammation.

6. Limit pollutants

Stop smoking (including second-hand smoke) and minimize your exposure to environmental pollutants to help cut the release of molecules that lead to increased inflammation in the body.

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7. Exercise more

Breaking a sweat with regular aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease most of the inflammatory markers in the body, including marker CRP.

Small lifestyle changes can help protect you against the perils of inflammation

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Small lifestyle changes can help protect you against the perils of inflammationCredit: Getty – Contributor

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