Trying to decode the signals our bodies send us can feel like a giant puzzle sometimes. Why do we feel great some days and crappy on others? And what do those nagging symptoms really mean?
I know how frustrating this kind of uncertainty can be. You want (and deserve!) to feel great. And you can. It all starts with connecting the dots between your lifestyle choices—the foods you eat, how much sleep and exercise you get, the stressors you face—and your overall well-being.
Because the truth is, our daily habits can nourish us, but they can also trick our bodies into thinking they’re under attack. This sends our immune systems into total chaos—the root of chronic inflammation. That’s exactly what I want to talk with you about today!
Over the past decade, I’ve renovated everything from my grocery cart to my makeup bag to my mind in an effort to upgrade my immune system. And as I moved from a stressful life full of fast food, toxins and bad boyfriends, to a more balanced existence filled with plant-based nourishment, inner growth and conscious living, I started experiencing the perks—my chronic inflammation decreased, and my body started working with me to heal and rebuild.
Are you ready to start connecting the dots in your own life?
Before we learn about how to reduce inflammation, let’s talk about the difference between acute and chronic inflammation, and the different roles they play in our health.
What is inflammation?
Acute inflammation is your body’s natural and helpful immune response to tissue damage. For example, when you fall off your bike, the cut swells, reddens and feels…inflamed! These are all signs that your immune system is busy at work sending white blood cells to the site of your injury to repair the tissue. In this situation, inflammation is our friend—we couldn’t live without it.
Chronic inflammation is your body’s confused and damaging immune response to a barrage of environmental, physical and mental invaders. What you eat and drink, the thoughts you think, toxins, smoking, booze and even being a couch-potato can all trigger a fiery cascade of inflammation throughout your body.
When your body hits inflammatory overload, your defense system gets so overwhelmed and confused that it literally doesn’t know the difference between the invader and you. As a result, your well-meaning immune system turns on itself, destroying healthy cells, tissue, and everything else in its wake. It’s like when Al Pacino played Tony Montana in Scarface. He mows down everything in sight, yelling, “Say hello to my little friend!”
The dangers of chronic inflammation.
Over time, chronic inflammation wears out your immune system, which may lead to autoimmune diseases and other health issues, including cancer, asthma, heart disease, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, osteoporosis and even (gasp!) appearing older than your years.
Unfortunately, these challenges are often only treated with drugs and surgery. These may provide temporary relief from the symptoms, but don’t get to the root of the problem. In addition, these drugs (and their side effects) sometimes only add to your health problems.
Could it be that many of the pills in your cabinet are just band-aids and that the key to health lies in your daily diet and lifestyle choices? That’s certainly what I’ve found to be true.
But I’ve got good news! There are plenty of simple practices you can add to your day that will fight chronic inflammation. Here’s how to reduce inflammation in 5 easy steps.
How to kick butt & reduce inflammation
1. Eat more whole, plant-based, nutrient-dense foods.
Certain foods can trigger an inflammatory response including processed foods that are high in refined sugar, flour and trans fats, fried foods, and animal products. The easiest way to clean up your diet is to add before you subtract. Crowd out the foods that cause inflammation by eating a beautiful cornucopia of whole, plant-based foods.
Build your next meal around anti-inflammatory powerhouses like dark leafy greens, tomatoes, nuts, berries (cherries in particular), olive oil and flax oil, hemp seeds, turmeric (or more specifically, curcumin, a naturally occurring chemical with anti-inflammatory properties), green tea, and ginger.
Eating these foods on a regular basis will flood your body with the vitamins, minerals, cancer-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber and other goodies it needs to reduce inflammation. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to tap into those anti-inflammatory effects:
There’s more where that came from—my cookbooks, Crazy Sexy Kitchen and Crazy Sexy Juice, are both packed with delicious anti-inflammatory recipes!
Oh, and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Proper hydration helps decrease inflammation and can even prevent it from happening in the first place, so drink up, buttercup!
2. Get down with your gut!
Your gut holds approximately 60–70 percent of your immune system, so it’s a great place to start if you want to reduce inflammation. If your gut is in bad shape, your immune system might be in some serious trouble.
One easy way to start improving your gut health is by adding a high-quality probiotic to your daily routine. The FloraMend Prime Probiotic from Thorne Research, Ultimate Flora from Renew Life and Jarro-Dophilus EPS from Jarro Formulas are some of my personal faves. And if you want more tips and resources to help you take care of your gut health, check out my post here!
If you’re experiencing prolonged bloating, gas or other digestive discomforts, taking digestive enzymes with meals can help you get more nutrition out of your food, as well as improving digestion and boosting your immune system. Check out my blog here for more info on digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics!
Another possible cause of inflammatory symptoms is leaky gut syndrome. This condition occurs when your intestinal lining is damaged, allowing bacteria, undigested food and other toxins to literally “leak” into your bloodstream. This kind of leak triggers an autoimmune response with a host of painful inflammatory symptoms. If you think you may have a leaky gut, ask your doc to help you get a test done!
3. Find an integrative MD you trust.
Finding the right doctor is a critical part of nipping chronic inflammation in the bud. A good integrative MD takes a holistic approach by looking at your habits and the way you lead your life. Then you can work together to identify and address possible chronic inflammation triggers. Here are two in particular that your doctor is on the lookout for:
Food sensitivities: Gluten, soy, dairy, eggs and yeast are just a few of the common problem foods that might be wreaking havoc on your immune system every time you sit down for a meal.
If you think you might have a sensitivity or allergy, start paying close attention to what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. If your symptoms persist, fill your doc in on what you notice— they may suggest a blood test or elimination diet. You can find more info about food allergies and sensitivities here.
Chronic infection: Bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites—oh my! These guys could be hiding out in your body under the radar and dragging your immune system down. If chronic infection is a suspect in your inflammation mystery, your doc may ask for blood work and/or a stool sample to analyze. Yes, your poop has a lot to say about what’s going on inside, so listen up!
And if doctors make you nervous, here are some helpful tips to face that fear and get the care you deserve. You’ve got this!
4. Get more rest and relaxation.
Your body works hard to repair and restore your glorious cells while you sleep. Most doctors recommend 7–8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re cutting corners in the snooze department, you’re cheating your immune system, which means it needs to kick into high gear in an effort to keep you well (hello, inflammation!).
Stress goes hand in hand with a lack of sleep and a laundry list of demands in our daily lives. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed out all the time, you’re also producing more of the hormone cortisol—inflammation’s BFF. You can reduce inflammation by reducing stress. Get more sleep, try yoga or meditation, take long walks, use less technology, or take a much-needed vacation. You know I love to take every opportunity I can to remind you to take a chill pill!
5. Reduce toxins in your food, home and personal care products.
Your body’s alarm system goes off when you absorb toxic chemicals and pesticides through your digestive tract and skin—inflammation station, here we come! Luckily, there are some small, simple changes you can make to start protecting yourself right away. And please don’t feel like you’ve gotta throw out everything in your house and start from scratch—each and every baby step goes a long way.
First, check out EWG’s Clean Fifteen/Dirty Dozen charts before your next trip to the grocery store. It will help you prioritize which produce to buy organic (and when it’s OK to go with conventional). Those lists change yearly, so be sure to check back often. EWG also has you covered with their Skin-Deep database of non-toxic personal care products. Finally, I put together this resource to help you steer clear of yucky chemicals in your household cleaning products.
Remember, small steps lead to big change! That’s especially true when it comes to fighting chronic inflammation. Start connecting the dots to better health by trying one of these suggestions and see how you feel.
I bet you’ll start to notice a difference and want to build from there! Now, I’m about to go sip on my leafy greens, how about you?
Your turn: Do you struggle with chronic inflammation? Which one of these tips will you try? Or, if you have inflammation fighting tips of your own, tell me all about them!
Peace & immunity,
My Crazy Sexy Reset: 3-Day Plant-Based Cleanse is designed to help you get back on track quickly and address the challenges that often come along with unbalanced eating (I’m talkin’ bloating, fatigue, mental fog—you name it). Click here to get started for just $25!
Thank You so much Kris Carr for sharing this valuable information. Up to August 2017, I didn’t know about inflammation in the body. Every time I felt ill, discomfort, pain in my body, mainly in my back and hip, my MD gave me anti-inflammation medication such as Prednisone, heavy duty Tylenol, and other Pharma medication I can’t even pronounce. Though they help temporarily to reduce my pain, they also caused me complication in my gastro intestinal. Meanwhile, I’ve also sought the help of a Chiropractor for my chronic back pain, and he administered acupuncture to reduce my pain. I shared with my Chiropractor about anti-inflammation drugs my MD prescribed to alleviate the pain in my back. He suggested a natural approach and offered me Boswella Extract (Herbal Secrets), a plant-based anti-inflammation supplement, which took away my back pain. Now, I can do my morning walk, yoga, qigong and Taichi practice to keep my muscles, tendons and joints healthy. I am so happy and grateful that our path crossed here. You are the angel God sent to me to help me heal my body. Thank You for being you and for your work to help many live a healthy life. Namaste.
Nice! thanks for sharing this informative article. Cant wait to hear more from you. Great tips. 🙂
Hi Kris. I am very interested in get an Digestive Enzyme supplement because I have 2 ulcers and GERD. I get an upset stomach most of the time when I eat. Of the three that you mentioned above, what are the differences, which one do most people take and which one do you take? How do you know which one to choose? TIA Nadine
Very nice blog. Useful home remedies to cure from inflammation. Cureveda also provides best ayurvedic medicine for inflammation. Try this medicines and get relief from inflammation.
Question: I thought tomatoes were on the list of inflammatory foods/nightshade vegetables that should be avoided when fighting inflammation? Understandable on the other hand they are filled with many nutrients. There is a lot of conflicting information when it comes to whether or not to eat them when combating inflammation. What made you choose them to be on your list ?
Hi Jenny! I’m the nutrition director here with Kris, so I’ll jump in. Tomatoes are not necessarily inflammatory. However, for people sensitive to nightshade foods, they can trigger joint pain and other symptoms of inflammation. Tomatoes are loaded with nutrition and shouldn’t be avoided unless you have a sensitivity. Hope that helps! – xo Jen
Just wanted to share about 4 months ago I received my blood test crp and my ana . Which are your inflammation markers. My tests came back normal. I put myself on a vegan diet, also I contribute it to being faithful every morning on an empty stomach I would have a 20 oz glass of room temperature water with a half squeezed lemon, 1/2 teaspoon of organic ginger juice and a half a red grapefruit or orange a bit of salt. Every morning. My vegan diet was a lot of juicing greens, 3 Green drinks with Dr Alexander’s orgain superfoods 1 scoop once a day . My
conventional neurologist and
primary care drs were amazed. I feel great. I helped my gut along also I had to get rid of the inflammation and love being not in pain not stiff nor cranky. I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. In which I have been maintaining it with a lot of studying. Learning all about mutated cells, thyroid, a lot of courses on line. Also with the help of a naturalpathic dr. For the thyroid. He stated getting rid of the inflammation was a great step to a successful healing and a healthier me.
Hey Kate ,CBD oil helps to reduce inflammation in the body which helps to reduce pain from arthritis. it also acts as a great supplement. Many arthritis patients have been discussing CBD oil as the CBD proves to be a miracle for them.
T Y for all of this helpful information.I am 66 yrs young and in pretty good health,but would like to improve. This is a more practical way of doing so.
I am a Stage 3, triple negative breast cancer survivor (3 months!) and I’ve learned all about chronic inflammation but unfortunately I already have an auto-immune disorder, lymphocytic colitis. Foods that you recommend like tomatoes, raw veggies, raw fruit, green smoothies, green juices, etc aggravate my colitis. It severely limits my diet and is very worrisome.
I was surprised to hear that inflammation is the cause of most diseases. The first thing to do to eliminate chronic inflammation is to change your eating habits. Many popular foods make inflammation worse (if you already have chronic inflammation) so you need to know not only what you should be eating but also what to avoid eating.
If you’re adding turmeric to your diet, are you doing it correctly? It’s difficult for the body to absorb turmeric; you might only get about 5% of it actually being absorbed – the rest goes to waste. In order to get the most out of your turmeric, make sure your meal also contains some black pepper. Black pepper contains a substance called piperine, which increases absorption of curcumin, the active component in turmeric, enormously. Alternatively, there’s a liposomal turmeric supplement that’s absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the stomach.
Aw, this was a very good post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a
great article? but what can I say? I hesitate a lot
and never manage to get nearly anything done.
Peoples can Avoids foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, as well as foods. A Mediterranean-style diet olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans also helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Those peoples who exercise regularly are more likely to heal faster from injuries and less likely to develop chronic inflammation. Great | Thanks for sharing this informative blog
Awesome advices Kris, thanks! I improved my diet in last few years by consuming more nuts, garlic, graviola, green tea(my favourite drink nowadays) and fresh vegetables to get more vitamins and antioxidants in my body. Also I walk way more than I used to.
I sent you an email but unsure if it will get in your inbox. So here I am.
How did you get over the `fear` when you were diagnosed and start working objectively towards getting healthy.
Is turkey a good item in the recipe. (I have not yet read all your recipes as I just got started checking out your blogs and website).
Hey Florian, this is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Here are a great blogs that can answer the question about fear:
How to Overcome Fear: 9 Simple Tips to Set You Free from What Scares You
An Update on my Cancer Journey (16 Years and Counting!)
Secrets to Cultivating a Happier Life
Regarding turkey, Kris is a vegan so she doesn’t eat turkey. If you’re looking to try more vegan cooking, Kris has tons of great recipes on the site and also a wonderful substitutions guide.
We’re so happy you’re here, Florian!
How I can detoxify my blood? Stomach,liver ,heart ,brain, overy intestine etc from bacteria, toxins, pathogens ,pesticides and other harmfull substances to cure overian cancer
Hi there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Let me point you to a few blogs that might help. A great way to detox is through drinking fresh water and lots of veggies. You’ll also want to rid your home of any toxins that are lurking and replace toxic products with non-toxic ones. Be sure to talk to your trusted doc about any testing, there are lots of good options out there but you really want to work with a trusted healthcare professional on that. Here are some blogs to get you started. The whole team is sending you lots of love and healing light. Xo!
How to Cleanse Your Home of Toxins
The Best Types of Water Filters
How Much Water to Drink a Day + My Top 10 Hydration Tips
What to Eat (and Avoid) if You Have Cancer
I love to read all your articles! I have a book of your juicing books at home now. I’d love to look into your cookbook!
Inflammation has been a huge problem for me causing all sorts of havoc on my life. I struggle from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, central sensitization syndrome to just name a few and these cause all sorts of symptoms besides.
I seem to get into a rut of where I should be eating better, exercise more etc but I go through phases of telling myself I can’t do it right now.
I’m to the point though where something has got to change or I’ll be stuck in this rut for far too long and I don’t want to feel the way I do any more.
I’m ready to start and make changes. I’ve had leaky gut before and had to start with an elimination diet and add things in slowly to heal. I want to say I am going to start by tracking my food intake and trying to eliminate those common food items that cause problems.
I appreciate you writing all of these articles! You are such am inspiring person.
Thank you. I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is that the pathology report from the lumpectomy shows clean margins and no lymphatic involvement. I am choosing a more functional and natural approach to follow up. Where do I begin? I do have your books!
Rather than radiation and estrogen blockers, I am changing my diet and life style. Any advice, encouragement and resources?