What is inflammation? Why is inflammation bad for you and how can you reduce inflammation in the body? In this article, we are sharing 5 lifestyle and dietary hacks that help decrease inflammation in the body. But first, let's get a better understanding of the basics.
Inflammation is a physical condition in which part of the body is swollen, reddened, hot and painful - especially as a reaction to injury or infection. Further signs of inflammation can be skin breakouts as well as flu-like symptoms such as stomach aches/ digestive issues, tiredness, weakness, and brain fog.
Is inflammation bad for you?
Inflammation can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. On one hand, ACUTE inflammation is your body's natural way of protecting itself when you’re sick, injured, or even after a big workout. It can help your body stimulate healing and defend itself from illness.
On the other hand, ongoing CHRONIC inflammation is linked to an increased risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Chronic inflammation can be triggered by a genetic predisposition but also by your lifestyle, such as:
a) the amount and quality of sleep you get
b) the emotional stress you are experiencing
c) the exposure to environmental toxins (air pollution, chemicals in cosmetics, etc.)
d) your diet (especially fried and processed foods, canola oil, refined sugar)
How to reduce inflammation in the body?
There are different ways to reduce inflammation in the body and today we are sharing our top 5 anti-inflammatory lifestyle hacks:
1. Heat Therapy
Studies have shown that heat stress through sauna results in an increased production of human growth hormone (= the body’s repair hormone). The effects vary depending on temperature, time, and frequency. For example, a 2 x 20-minute sauna session at 80°C (176°F) separated by a 10 min cooling break resulted in double the amount of human growth hormone levels. The positive effects on growth hormone levels last for a few hours post-sauna. This is particularly beneficial if you experience inflammation caused by an injury. Also, exposing your body to heat stress brings your heart rate up and thereby can improve fitness & endurance.
Further, our bodies respond to heat stress with the release of happiness hormones which also happens after exercise. So if you can't exercise choose the sauna instead.
Obviously by sweating your body is able to detox and thereby getting rid of harmful substances, but it also means losing electrolytes. So make sure you hydrate with electrolytes post-sauna. BIX Recovery contains 12 vitamins and minerals including the 4 main electrolytes Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium & Calcium.
2. Cold Therapy
You may have experienced that applying ice to a swollen area of your body helps decrease swelling and pain. The reason why this is happening is the constriction of blood vessels which reduces blood flow to the area resulting in reduced pain, swelling, and inflammation. Apart from the acute decrease in pain and inflammation, cold therapy also has effects over time. Exposing your body to the cold on a regular basis - either in the form of cold showers or ice baths - trigger the release of “norepinephrine” resulting in pain relief. Furthermore, short term exposure to cold increases the production of white blood & immune cells which are responsible for fighting off infection.
Interesting fact: Instead of taking an ice-bath straight after a hard workout (race, long run, etc.) it is more beneficial to wait for 1-hour post-exercise as you don’t want to interrupt your body’s own pro-inflammatory response that is occurring within 1-hour post-exercise and has been linked to improved recovery as well as performance in athletes.
You can limit inflammation in the body by sticking to mainly natural - preferably plant-based foods (which are high in vitamins, minerals & antioxidants) and by avoiding high inflammatory foods such as fried foods, processed meats, canola oil as well as refined carbohydrates.
Certain foods have very high anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Bromelain and turmeric are one of them.
Bromelain is the enzyme which derives from the stem of the pineapple and has highly anti-inflammatory effects on the body. You can eat it raw, blend it in a smoothie or have it in powdered form. Bromelain powder is also one of the ingredients in BIX Recovery hydration tablet.
Turmeric is another powerful anti-inflammatory food. The main active ingredient in the turmeric root is called curcumin. Turmeric can be eaten raw, cooked, or in powder form. Also cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil are full of antiseptic components.
Here is a great anti-inflammatory bedtime drink recipe that will boost the body's repair and recovery process while you are asleep:
Stir the below ingredients into a cup of hot (80°C) water:
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons of unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- pinch of black pepper or cayenne pepper (enhances the absorption of turmeric)
- Sweetener (maple syrup, agave syrup, stevia, honey)
4. Vitamin Sea
Seawater contains plenty of health-promoting minerals such as magnesium, sodium, and calcium which have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects on the body and can even work as natural antibiotics. They support the healing of skin diseases as well as asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, and other aches and pains.
The magnesium in sea water supports muscle relaxation and stress relief, hence promotes deep sleep. Swimming in the ocean has also been shown to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for relaxation and cell repair. Last but not least, a bath in cold seawater improves circulation and thereby distributes nutrients throughout the body - by moving blood from the extremities to major organs and vice versa - once we warm up again.
You may have heard that the earth is negatively charged with electrons. By walking bare feet (ideally on grass or sand) you are directly connecting your body to a negatively charged form of energy. The fact that the earth has a greater negative charge than your body, enables it to absorb electrons from it. These free electrons disrupt free radicals which cause oxidative stress and inflammation in our bodies.
Bonus: Barefoot walking is also known for strengthening the small muscles in your feet making them less prone to injury.
Bottom line: Try and implement some of the above lifestyle and dietary changes in order to decrease inflammation and thereby improve recovery, performance, and overall health & wellbeing.