If I could assign one “bad word” to 2023, it would be inflammation. Why? The answer is simple: Inflammation is a problem for countless people throughout our country, and many aren’t aware of how to rid their bodies of it. Today, I want to shed light on this issue and answer questions like: What is inflammation? What causes inflammation? And most importantly, how can you decrease inflammation?
What Is Inflammation?
Let’s address physical inflammation first. Inflammation is a response your body often has to sickness or injury. When the body recognizes an invader or offending presence, it sends cytokines and inflammatory cells out to fight it. Inflammation is not always a bad thing, but it can be.
Sometimes inflammation is acute and helps to heal a wound. Other times, it can be chronic – when it’s chronic, inflammation can go from somewhat helpful to harmful and debilitating.
I believe that inflammation can also be mental. Toxic influences, negative experiences, stress exposure, destructive behaviors, and unhealthy thought processes can all be inflammatory to your mind and even cause physical responses.
What Are the Symptoms of Inflammation?
Now that we’ve answered, “What is inflammation?” let’s discuss its symptoms.
How do you know if you are experiencing it, whether mental or physical? You may encounter some of these symptoms:
- Flushed skin
- Heat and swelling in one area
- Pain and tenderness
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Brain fog
- Skin rashes
- Joint pain and stiffness
Please consult your physician if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms – the information provided here is not designed to treat or diagnose conditions.
What Causes Inflammation?
Many things can trigger Inflammation and cause physical and mental symptoms. Let’s check out a few below:
- Physical injury or acute illness
- Gut imbalance, which can be caused by stress, a high-sugar/high-fat diet, fungi overgrowth, environmental toxins, and more
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Viral and bacterial infections and pathogens
- Malnutrition and lack of proper nutrients
- Smoking and drinking alcohol in excess
- High body mass index (BMI)
- Chronic conditions like dementia, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
How Can You Decrease Inflammation?
Here’s the fantastic news: Inflammation can often be decreased by implementing lifestyle changes and challenging yourself to take better care of your body.
Cold plunges are excellent for inflammation – both mentally and physically. Many assume that things like ice baths and cold showers have only physical benefits, but these tactics are also an excellent way to harden your mindset and decrease “mental inflammation.” That’s why I train in the extreme cold during the winter and the heat during the summer. I leave my pool open until November, and even though the temperature of the water can get down to 50 degrees, I still make a point to jump in a few times a week. It’s great for inflammation and muscle recovery!
Fasting is another excellent anti-inflammatory tool – I often fast for 36-48 hours, but research shows that fasting for only 24 hours may lower your body’s inflammation. Supplements like Turmeric, Vitamin A, Garlic, and Capsaicin are also great in the fight against inflammation.
When talking about 2023’s “bad word,” my mind goes back to the biohacking routine I implemented after my quad injury. I used many anti-inflammatory treatments like red light therapy and infrared sauna sessions to help my leg heal much more quickly than “normal.” One of the best tools I utilized was visualizing myself getting better, which I believe played a role in my being able to complete a full marathon (on crutches) only 60 days after my injury!
Many people don’t realize how much our mind plays a role in our physical (and, of course) mental well-being. The mind and body have an interwoven connection. You must invest in your physical and psychological health for both to be well.
Years ago, I made journaling about gratitude a mandatory part of both my morning and evening routines. Thinking about my kids and all of the things that I’m blessed to have in this world would immediately kill any negative thought pattern and also train me to start thinking more positively. There is nothing I can say about gratitude that will do its power justice. Due to the mind-body connection, journaling, showing gratitude, and even meditating can help reduce the body’s inflammation!
- Quick note: As previously mentioned, please consult your doctor if you believe you have excess inflammation, especially those listed in item #8 in the above list. I recommend checking with a healthcare provider before starting any anti-inflammatory biohacking routines.
Challenging Yourself to Make Anti-Inflammatory Changes
As we’ve discussed the things that cause inflammation and ways to reduce it, you may feel unsure where to begin your “anti-inflammatory journey.” You may notice several things you need to change, which can seem overwhelming. Don’t let these feelings stand in the way of your health and well-being!
My recommendation would be to start slow and small. If you aren’t used to fasting, start by doing it for 12 hours. If you need to make significant diet changes, begin by eliminating fried foods and unhealthy snacks. Aren’t sure how to start taking supplements? Research their benefits and start out taking only one for a few weeks. Small changes create a strong foundation on which you can build later.
I challenge you to make one anti-inflammatory change for the next 30 days. It’s only a month and may provide the inspiration you need to create a lasting anti-inflammatory habit!
I hope my “What Is Inflammation” blog has given you the proper tools to expel this bad word from your 2023 vocabulary.
Want a deeper dive into how you can prepare your mind and body for many of life’s challenges? Check out my book, Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity.
But don’t stop there! Feel free to download your free copy of Thriving in the Storm Workbook and Thriving Daily Journal, which may help reduce your inflammation and set you on the path to incredible health victories!