10 best ways to blast inflammation from your body

Autoimmune problems that arise when your immune system attacks your own organs may afflict as many as 50 million Americans. Research even shows these conditions are 50 percent higher in older adults than they were 25 years ago.

However, making certain dietary changes may bring a measure of relief and offer protection against this widespread health issue.

Dr. Mark Hyman is the founder and director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, an eleven-time New York Times best-selling author, and Board President for Clinical Affairs for the Institute for Functional Medicine

A few years ago he authored The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, a book explaining that autoimmune diseases, which include celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, psoriasis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can be maddeningly hard to deal with. For me, it’s sort of a bible…

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Misbehavior leads to inflammation

Hyman notes that when your immune system misbehaves, even if the immune alteration doesn’t result in full-blown disease, it can still lead to “weird, hard-to-classify syndromes like inflammation, pain, swelling, and general misery.”

He promotes 10 tips for dealing with autoimmune issues that fit into a paleo way of living, which is of personal interest to me since I attribute the diet to helping me overcome many health issues.

He says these tips grew out of his philosophy of following functional medicine: “An approach (that) is a fundamentally different way of solving medical problems, one that allows us to decipher the origins of illness and identify the disturbances in biology that lead to symptoms.”

Lifestyle strategies to blast inflammation

The strategies Hyman advocates include to:

  1. Eat real foods, not packaged, processed, nutrient-deprived products. Hyman recommends wild-caught fish, plenty of berries, leafy vegetables, nuts and sweet potatoes. He further recommends consuming herbs that fight inflammation like rosemary, ginger and turmeric. Avoid refined, processed cooking oils like soy, corn, cottonseed and safflower oil. Those oils lead to extra inflammation in the body.
  2. Have your body examined, preferably by a functional medicine practitioner, for infection. Have tests for Lyme disease, viral disease, bacterial infections and yeast.
  3. Be checked for food allergies. Hyman recommends having what’s called IgG food testing. Blood tests can detect your IgG antibody response to various foods.
  4. Get tested for celiac disease, the autoimmune reaction to the gluten contained in wheat, barley and rye.
  5. Get tested for heavy metals in your body. These metals, which include mercury, can lead to autoimmune difficulties.
  6. Make sure your digestive tract is functioning properly. Hyman explains: “About 60 percent of your immune system lies right under the single-cell-layer lining of your gut. If this surface breaks down, your immune system will get activated and start reacting to foods, toxins, and bugs in your gut.” Keeping your gut healthy should include eating fermented foods rich in friendly, beneficial probiotic bacteria – items like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. You should also eat real, whole foods and avoid processed foods. The dietary fiber in fruits and vegetables helps feed the good bacteria in your intestines.
  7. Take supplements that fight inflammation. Hyman recommends vitamins C and D, fish oil and probiotics. He also says you should consider nutrients like grape seed extract, rutin (a plant pigment) and quercetin (also a plant pigment).
  8. Get frequent exercise. He explains that exercise reduces inflammation. You don’t have to go to a gym or use exercise equipment to stay in shape. Just make sure you don’t sit too long every day, go for plenty of walks and just generally stay active. Gardening is good exercise, as is general yard work. Find yourself a physical activity you enjoy — whatever it is — and keep doing it day after day.
  9. Keep yourself relaxed by controlling stress. Hyman says that stress plays havoc with the immune system and can lead to uncontrolled inflammation. He advocates doing yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage and/or biofeedback.
  10. Get eight hours of sleep every night. Missing out on sleep distorts your metabolism, throwing off your appetite and making you more prone to binge eating. When you overeat sugary processed foods (that also often contain damaged fats) your risk of immune problems escalates.

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Big health changes

My health took a dramatic turn for the better when I went on the Paleo diet and ate foods similar to the ones Hyman recommends. The condition of my skin, which tended to frequently develop strange rashes, improved immensely. Even my tendency to suffer dramatic inflammation in reaction to insect bites calmed down significantly.

I believe the brunt of my problem was gluten intolerance. It’s important to note, that while Dr. Hyman suggests testing for celiac disease, a very serious condition, it’s widely accepted that you can have a negative reaction to gluten, even if you don’t have celiac disease. The Paleo diet is essentially a gluten-free diet, eschewing grains.

Eating the Paleo diet or, perhaps, the Pegan diet, which combines principles of the paleo and vegan diets, and following recommendations like Hyman’s 10 anti-inflammation tips can be very helpful for keeping your immune system on track. And that’s vital for staying healthy: A poorly functioning immune system not only makes you more vulnerable to infection, the system itself can become a problem when it begins to grow too prone to inflammation.

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Margaret Cantwell

By Margaret Cantwell

Margaret Cantwell began her paleo diet in 2010 in an effort to lose weight. Since then, the diet has been instrumental in helping her overcome a number of other health problems. Thanks to the benefits she has enjoyed from her paleo diet and lifestyle, she dedicates her time as Editor of Easy Health Digest™, researching and writing about a broad range of health and wellness topics, including diet, exercise, nutrition and supplementation, so that readers can also be empowered to experience their best health possible.