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Inflammation: More than Just a Pain in the Neck

Aches and pains, sore muscles – inflammation is a well-known cause of these everyday problems.  But did you know inflammation is also a silent contributing factor to diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, obesity and even cancer.

The amount of inflammation in our bodies is strongly influenced by our lifestyle choices.  High stress, little sleep, and poor eating habits all lead to high levels of inflammation.  If these times are short-lived our bodies are able to control the fire.  The real problem arises when the stress, poor sleep and bad eating habits continue for years, even decades.

 Some people seek relief from the painful symptoms of inflammation with medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and NSAIDS.  These medications may provide temporary relief of painful signs of inflammation, but they do nothing to treat the underlying cause.  As well, these medications come with serious side effects like stomach bleeding, ulcers and kidney disease.

 A natural approach is a much better and more effective way to address the symptoms and underlying cause of inflammation.  Changing your diet, improving sleep habits, and decreasing stress are all vital.

Certain foods contribute to inflammation and should be avoided in our diets.  These foods include: margarine, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, white sugar, pasteurized dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol.  By steering clear of fast food and junk food many of these ingredients can be avoided.  However, it is important to read your labels as many of these ingredients (particularly hydrogenated oils) can be found lurking in common foods.  For some people vegetables such as green peppers, eggplant, white potatoes and tomatoes (all known as nightshade plants) can increase pain and inflammation.

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods in your diet is easy and delicious.  Foods that get high marks for squelching inflammation are: wild Atlantic salmon, fresh fruits and vegetables (cherries, blueberries, green leafy vegetables, broccoli), olive oil, walnuts and flaxseeds.  Spices such as turmeric and ginger can spice up your foods and reduce inflammation.  Consuming limited amounts of saturated fats and choosing grass fed, organic red meat (it has higher levels of good fats and lower levels of inflammatory causing fats) is also helpful.

Other important lifestyle changes include: getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night and reducing stress.  Stress reduction can be achieved through exercise, yoga, Pilates, massage, meditation or any other activity your find relaxing.  Taking a nice deep breath is also a great way to let go of some negative energy.

These lifestyle changes are often effective at eliminating pain and inflammation completely.  However, if some degree of pain or inflammation persists herbs such as boswellia, arnica, licorice and white willow bark can be helpful.  Also you may consider supplementation with tuna oil, flaxseed oil or black current seed oil.

Making these changes to your diet and lifestyle will help reduce the pain caused by inflammation and decrease your risk of developing cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

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