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What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation!

What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation!

Inflammation. You may hear that word and think of inflamed muscles or sprained ankles. Maybe you think of an anti-inflammatory capsule you always have on hand in your medicine cabinet. Or maybe you think of arthritis and problems you don’t yet have. But inflammation can happen to anyone.

Inflammation is not infection. In fact, inflammation is a good thing your body does in an attempt to protect itself. When something irritating or even dangerous affects a part of your body, there is a biological response to fight it. This is done through inflammation. [1] That swelling you’ve seen when you blow out your ankle or a knee may look scary (and sometimes really, really bad), but it’s actually the result of your body releasing white blood cells into your blood and other affected tissues. The sudden release of cells increases blood flow to the damaged area, thus causing some redness and warmth. [2]

What does inflammation feel like?

While it may seem counter-intuitive, inflammation can be a bit painful. Everyone experiences it differently, so for some it’s more of a discomfort, while others undergo stiffness and pulsating, pinching sensations. Inflammation causes this pain because the swelling can push against nerve endings telling your brain something hurts. In a bizarre fact, we’re pretty much in pain all day long (as far as our nerve endings are concerned), but our brain chooses to ignore those signals. However, inflammation is a unique pain that differs from what we feel 24/7. Therefore, we are more sensitive toward it.

Inflammation can be detrimental if occurring too often

Inflammation not only occurs when we do something like twist an ankle or wrist or land wrong on a knee or elbow, it can also occur if we are unhealthy.

In a recent study, researchers found that overweight men are at greater risk of inflammation than men of the same age who are more fit. This was largely due to unfit men having a higher white blood cell count than healthier men. For women, inflammation drops when they lose weight. A different study found that obese women who lost more than 5% of their body weight had lower levels of inflammation markers.

While inflammation can help a body heal, it has a time and place. That means if we are unhealthy and causing our bodies to become inflamed regularly, we can be at risk for several types of cancer and even heart disease.

Perhaps most shocking, if inflammation is occurring so often that it becomes a part of your every day life, it can lead to hyperactive healing that can damage tissues and even result in chronic inflammation. If inflammation becomes a chronic issue, your immune system begins to go into overdrive. Once this happens, inflammation can kill bad cells all the time, sure, but it can also begin to kill off the good, healthy cells. When this happens, inflammation can become a killer. In fact, medical experts trace it to 90% of all serious illnesses as well as autoimmune disorders and arthritis, diverticulitis and cystitis. [3]

Your food may be causing your inflammation!

While it can seem overwhelming to try to get all the vitamins, minerals, vegetables and water servings into our hectic daily lives, some of the things we snack on out of habit can actually be leading to inflammation and ultimately, diseases! Here are some things to avoid to protect yourself from unhealthy inflammation levels:

Dairy

    Here’s the thing, humans don’t need milk. Nature made milk for calves. Are you a baby cow? No. Calves need milk in order to gain weight quickly. Last I checked, most of us aren’t trying to gain weight, and even if we are, that milk we buy in stores usually doesn’t come straight from the udder.

    Now I know what you’re thinking: “But milk makes our bones strong! We do need it!”

    Wrong.

    Bone strength doesn’t come from milk or any other dairy product. In fact, we get that bone strength from plants! Dairy is highly inflammatory for most people, and drinking more processed milk (skim) actually makes the inflammation even worse. [4]

    Still not convinced? In 1994, a study showed that consuming dairy products, even at a young age, was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture later in life. [5]

    French Fries

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      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but french fries are just plain bad for you. Well really, all fried foods are bad for you. While we all know they have a bad habit of making us gain weight (despite how incredibly yummy they can be!), if we cut out fried foods, we cut out inflammation. [6]

      One study found that feeding people a bag of potato chips (fried food) every day for a month highly increased inflammation and even their risk of cancer. [7]

      Doughnuts

        Okay, so clearly if we follow a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods, we’re probably going to lose weight. But why can’t doughnuts just be good for me?!

        Doughnuts are on the list of no-no’s because they contain refined flour and way more sugar than our body ever asked for. Oh, and while you’re at it, stop eating cookies cakes and…basically all sweet, delicious things. Ugh.

        One 2004 study showed people who ate too many refined carbs (like doughnuts) not only increased their risk of inflammation, but they were also at an increased risk of obesity and even diabetes. [8]

        Bacon

          Put down the maple-bacon glazed doughnuts. Bacon is also horrible for you (for a few reasons, but let’s focus on inflammation). Saturated fat, when heavily processed, contributes to inflammation. This goes for hot dogs and bologna, too.

          Along with increased inflammation, a study conducted by Columbia University found direct correlation between eating processed and cured meat such as bacon and developing chronic pulmonary disease. [9]

          (Too much) Alcohol

            A glass of wine a day has been shown to be beneficial, but too much of a good thing can lead to chronic inflammation. The process of breaking down alcohol creates toxic by-products in our bodies which can damage liver cells, promote inflammation and weaken our immune system. The term ‘Drink responsibly’ has never felt so appropriate. [10]

            Studies have shown that drinking to the point of drunkenness can cause your body to have trouble producing cytokines (the things that ward off infections by causing healthy inflammation). Without these, your body develops a reduced ability to fight off infections. [11]

            The right diet can lead to anti-inflammatory benefits

            While it may seem easy enough to grab a bottle of anti-inflammatory capsules, there are plenty of foods which offer anti-inflammatory benefits naturally.

            1. Tomatoes

              While you can’t have a BLT (remember, we are cutting out that bacon!), you can have tomatoes! [12]

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              Tomatoes are a nightshade vegetable rich in lycopene which helps reduce inflammation in the lungs and body. Cooked tomatoes are even better for you, so tomato sauce can count as a healthy addition to your diet. A 2013 Iranian study found that tomato juice was beneficial for reducing systematic inflammation. So drink up, but not too much. A serving of tomatoes is 1 cup chopped or sliced. [13]

              Try This:

              Healthy Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

              This salad is filled to the brim with healthy, anti-inflammatory goodness. And it only takes 10 minutes to make! Enjoy.

              2. Ginger and Turmeric

                Various studies have shown that these spices hold anti-inflammatory properties. Add a pinch of either (about 500 mg) to your daily smoothie for part of a healthy diet. Turmeric helps the body to turn off NF-kappy B, a compound that triggers inflammation. Ginger can cut inflammation in the gut when taken as a supplement.

                Try This:

                Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Ginger Tea

                This tea can help relieve pain and inflammation while also aiding joint pain and arthritis.

                3. Kale

                  Kale is rich in anti-inflammatory goodness, as well as anti-cancer nutrients. It also works as an anti-inflammatory. Snack on one cup of chopped kale for a healthy, anti-inflammatory break. Research has shown that kale contains nearly 50 different types of flavonoids which boast anti-inflammatory effects. [14]

                  Kale and other leafy veggies boast Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.

                  Try this:

                  Sauteed Kale

                  Not only is this dish excellent for you, it’s also delicious. Enjoy it as a side or eat a bowl full!

                  4. Celery

                    Studies have proven celery is great because it contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Celery seeds also have impressive health benefits including lowering inflammation and fighting infection.

                    Celery also has Vitamins K, A, C and Potassium. Just one and a half stalks provide all the goodness you need in a day.

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                    Try This:

                    Braised Celery

                    Vegetarian, gluten-free and paleo, this braised celery is good for you on so many levels.

                    5. Blueberries

                      Studies have shown consuming more blueberries slowed cognitive decline and actually improved memory and motor function. Blueberries are full of antioxidants which protect the body and reduce inflammation.

                      Blueberries also have Vitamins K and C as well as Manganese. Aim for 1/2 a cup to reap the benefits.

                      Try This:

                      Blueberry Banana “Ice Cream”

                      Eating well doesn’t have to be boring. This two ingredient “ice cream” is so good for you, but it tastes so sweet!

                      6. Salmon

                        Salmon has fatty acids that are quintessential to a healthy lifestyle. They also boast omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation. Salmon is basically a health powerhouse, as it also contains Vitamins B12, D, B3, B6, Selenium, Protein and Phosphorous. Enjoy 2 to 3 ounces for all the health benefits.

                        Try This:

                        Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

                        Wow, wow, wow. This recipe has so many health benefits!! This is a delicious dinner you don’t have to feel guilty about.

                        7. Coconut Oil

                          Coconut oil is basically a miracle in a jar. You can put this stuff on your body, in your hair and of course in your system. The lipids found in coconut oil are filled with anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, a study in India showed the high levels of antioxidants in coconut oil were more effective at healing arthritis and other inflammatory problems than leading medicines. While coconut oil is super good for you, it’s pure fat. So only enjoy about a teaspoon a day.

                          Try This:

                          Coconut Oil Smoothie

                          This smoothie has dairy-free milk, coconut oil, and good-for-you fruits. Drink up!

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                          8. Walnuts

                            These little guys may not look like much, but they are filled with beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also full of omega-3’s (about 113% of your daily value!) and manganese. Munch on 1/4 cup (about one ounce) of walnuts at a time.

                            Try This:

                            Raw Walnut Brownies

                            These brownies substitute all that bad-for-you refined sugar and flour with dates and cacao powder. Gluten-free, vegan, paleo and delicious!

                            9. Beets

                              Beets. You either love them or you hate them. But beets are the color they are because of the antioxidant betalain. This antioxidant is known to be a fantastic anti-inflammatory. They also have Folate, Manganese, Potassium and Magnesium. Enjoy one cup at a time.

                              Try This:

                              Beet, Carrot and Apple Salad

                              This is a bowl full of health , and you’ll actually look forward to eating it! The sweet carrots and apples balance out the earthy beets.

                              10. Bok Choy

                                Bok Choy has Vitamin K, A and C. Plus, studies have shown there are over 70 antioxidant types in this green veggie! A serving size of one cup only has about 20 calories, too!

                                Try This:

                                Sauteed Ginger Bok Choy

                                Yep, this recipe has ginger and bok choy! Talk about a healthy dish! Though it does call for soy sauce, opt for a low sodium option to avoid inflammation from the salt.

                                Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you!

                                So now that you know some foods to avoid, as well as foods to integrate into your diet, try to pay attention to the changes in your body. You’ll notice less inflammation, but you may even notice better, more steady energy, a happier gut and even weight loss! Have any more anti-inflammatory foods you swear by? We’d love to hear about them.

                                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pixabay.com

                                Reference

                                [1] Medical News Today: Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
                                [2] WebMD: What Is Inflammation?
                                [3] Honey Colony: Symptoms Of Inflammation: Can It Kill?
                                [4] Women’s Health: 6 Foods That Cause Inflammation
                                [5] Save Our Bones: Debunking The Milk Myth: Why Milk Is Bad For You And Your Bones
                                [6] Prevention: 10 Foods That Make Inflammation Worse
                                [7] Nutrition Facts: Why Deep Fried Foods May Cause Cancer
                                [8] WebMD: The Truth About White Foods
                                [9] Huffington Post: 9 Unfortunate Truths About Juicy, Scrumptious Bacon
                                [10] Eat This, Not That: 14 Inflammatory Foods Making You Fat
                                [11] National Institutes of Health: Beyond Hangovers
                                [12] Health: 14 Foods That Fight Inflammation
                                [13] Eating Well: What is a Serving of Vegetables?
                                [14] The Washington Post: Eat Your Kale

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                                Heather Poole

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                                Last Updated on September 28, 2020

                                The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

                                The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

                                At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

                                Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

                                One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

                                When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

                                So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

                                Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

                                This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

                                Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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                                When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

                                Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

                                One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

                                Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

                                An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

                                When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

                                Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

                                Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

                                We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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                                By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

                                Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

                                While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

                                I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

                                You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

                                Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

                                When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

                                Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

                                Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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                                Con #2: Less Human Interaction

                                One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

                                Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

                                Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

                                This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

                                While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

                                Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

                                Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

                                This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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                                For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

                                Con #4: Unique Distractions

                                Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

                                For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

                                To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

                                Final Thoughts

                                Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

                                We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

                                More About Working From Home

                                Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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