We are very excited to introduce Kelli Shallal MPH, RD to our Contributing Author Team! Kelli is a Registered Dietitian and blogger at Hungry Hobby. She has a wealth of relevant health information to share with us.
10 Ways To Fight Systemic Inflammation
by Kelli Shallal MPH, RD
One of the most important ways to improve health is to target chronic inflammation. The one commonality between almost all chronic diseases is a state of chronic and perpetual inflammation. Unlike acute inflammation, such as a traumatic injury (blow to the head, deep cut or burn, etc), systemic inflammation is more widespread and generalized throughout the body. Symptoms of systemic inflammation vary from individual to individual. There are a lot of ways our bodies are exposed to inflammation. Getting to know the sources of inflammation and tackling them one by one will yield the best results.
1. Decrease Highly Processed Omega 6 Oils
Omega 6 fatty acids are essential to our diet and play an important role in health including skin health, immune system and metabolism. In general, these types of fatty acids trigger chemical messengers in our bodies that are pro-inflammatory. This is important in situations of injury or illness, but most diets are too high in this nutrient compared to their anti-inflammatory counterparts, omega 3’s. Avoid consumption of highly processed Omega 6 based oils including soybean, corn oil, and safflower oil. Limit consumption of healthier omega 6 based oils such as sesame and grapeseed in lieu of more neutral fats such as avocado, olive, and coconut.
2. Get Enough GLA
As with all things there is an exception to the omega 6 rule called gamma linoleic acid. This special type of omega 6 fatty acid is found in sources such as evening primrose oil, borage oil and black currant seed oil. Not only does GLA compete with inflammatory forms of omega 6 inhibiting enzymes that metabolize them into the end products that promote inflammation. They also increase enzymes that combat inflammation and increase metabolism. Women should consider supplementing in the second half of their cycle to potentially improve PMS symptoms.
3. Increase Omega 3’s, especially from animal sources
Getting enough Omega 3’s is the core to keeping chronic inflammation at bay. While there are many plant sources of Omega 3’s such as walnuts, flax and chia seeds, it’s important to make sure you get plenty from animal sources as well. Alpha Linoleic Acid, the type of omega 3 found in plant sources is converted down to compounds called EPA & DHA, which create anti-inflammatory messengers in our bodies. The problem on relying on Omega 3’s from plant sources is that the conversion isn’t efficient. EPA & DHA can be obtained directly from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. DHA can also be obtained from some green algae sources.
4. Managed Stress
Cortisol, our bodies natural stress hormone is extremely inflammatory in nature. Like Omega 6 Fatty Acids, we also need cortisol to live and thrive. However, modern day society causes an overproduction of this flight or fight response leaving us in a constant inflammatory state. The most important factors to managing stress are: planning ahead, constantly accepting/embracing change, and being involved in a tight nit community.
5. Limit Sugar Intake
Sugar triggers messengers in the body called cytokines that are pro-inflammatory in nature. In addition, when blood sugar is high free radicals are produced increasing the immune response. Keep added sugar intake to a minimum and limit to 1-2 sources of natural sugar per day (fruit, natural sweeteners, dairy sugar, etc.)
6. Eat Enough Complex Carbohydrates
In the quest to lower sugar, don’t forget to keep those healthy unprocessed complex carbohydrates on the plate such as potatoes, rices (wild and brown), quinoa, and peas. While low carbohydrate diets have their benefits, managing the cortisol response is not one of them. Diets rich in healthy, unprocessed, complex carbohydrates are associated with decreased cortisol compared to low carbohydrate diets.
7. Liver Support – Limit Toxin Exposure
Toxins could be considered anything that we encounter (consume, breath in, etc.) that is not useable by the body for a specific purpose (energy, antioxidant, etc.) that the liver must process. The more junk the liver has to process the more likely it is to get backed up. These non-useable foreign substances hang around alerting the immune system to foreign invaders and kick up immune system activity into overdrive. Limiting exposure to them ensures the liver can keep up with demands without getting backed up. Examples are pesticides, biphenols, preservatives, food additives, etc.
8. Sleep Enough and Sleep Better
Research confirms that not enough sleep leads to increased cortisol production and stress on the body. Regardless of how much sleep you can get the emphasis should be on quality. Limit screen time at least an hour before bed, manage blood sugar to prevent waking up at night, support the adrenal glands to manage cortisol.
9. Get Rid Of Belly Fat
Belly fat is one of the only types of fat on the body that is metabolically active in an undesirable way. These fat cells actually produce inflammatory chemicals, decreasing insulin sensitivity and increasing likelihood for developing metabolic disorders (diabetes, dyslipidemia and more). If needed, weight loss can be one of the most powerful tools decreasing inflammation in the body and improving health.
10. Identify Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities may be created by a situation of chronic inflammation in the body, excess stress, or overexposure to certain foods. However, once you have them they elicit an immune response through an increase in immune response. This can eventually lead to GI disturbances and damage. Identifying them and temporarily removing, while also seeking their causes is another crucial way to bring down systemic and gastrointestinal inflammation.
Eat Well & THRIVE!
Kelli Shallal MPH, RD, owner of Hungry Hobby LLC provides virtual and local one-on one nutrition counseling emphasizing a holistic view point and intuitive eating principles. In addition she regularly appears in the media, provides brand representation and dynamic group presentations. If you are interested in working with her check out her nutrition services website at www.hungryhobbyrd.com. In addition she is also the author of Hungry Hobby and healthy living blog with an emphasis on healthy recipes, quick workouts as well as health tips. Follow her on instagram, pinterest and facebook for more healthy living tips.