I can remember what my life was like before I was constantly thinking about how to reduce inflammation. Those were the good ‘ol days. If you’re reading this, you probably can remember those days, too.
Whether you’re struggling with inflammation related to autoimmune diseases or something else, it can sometimes feel like a full-time job just to reduce inflammation and chronic pain so you can get back to a more normal life.
I know how frustrating it can be to have to battle against your body’s desire to create tons of inflammation every day. It can really start to feel like we are in opposition with ourselves. But, there are small things we can do that will make a big impact on our everyday health and reduce levels of inflammation. Nothing is 100% effective and consistency is key. You’re better off making small changes you can keep up with than going cold turkey on everything for a week and then giving up. So, small and steady wins the race here.
10 Ways To Reduce Inflammation:
I’ve written a lot on how I use natural remedies, diet and lifestyle changes to help manage inflammation from two autoimmune diseases. I am not perfect; I definitely get tired and make mistakes. When I have a bad day, I wake up with a new resolve to get back up and try again. So, I wanted to write a post that shares a lot of the content I’ve written over the years – in one place – so that people can navigate to a lot of the posts here and help heal their bodies.
I want to encourage you to see this list as ideas to help inspire you to find what works best for you. Also, I am not a doctor – I’m just a regular person who has been studying and trying new things for about 7 years now. I share this in an effort to help, but always listen to your body and your trusted team of medical providers. Know that you’re always responsible for your own health and choices. If something is not working – stop doing it.
1. Eat More Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
Yup, I’m starting with diet. I truly believe, through my own personal experience with it and that of people close to me, that food can be a big part of our healing. It can also be the most difficult part of our lives to change. I understand.
From financial strain to caring for young people, there’s a million reasons a day to pick up the pop-tart instead of the anti-inflammatory smoothie. But, every time you eat the anti-inflammatory food instead of the one that will cause your body to go up in flames, you give your body another chance to heal from the inside out. We continue to learn more and more about gut health, too, and how so much of what is happening in our gut is impacting our overall health and wellness (even mental health).
Here are some of my favorite ways to heal my body using food. Yes, I actually do these things every day:
- Drink celery juice every morning on an empty stomach. Read my post on the benefits and how-to.
- Drink my favorite turmeric anti-inflammatory smoothie (it’s really good!)
- Drink filtered water – all day, every day. Lots of water. Getting a good tumbler you like can help with this. I love this one.
- Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods. I wrote a whole post, with a video, on some of my faves.
- Avoid preservatives in food and eat fresh as often as you can. Lean proteins and fibrous vegetables.
- Remove gluten. Gluten = bad. After you stop eating it for awhile, and then you eat it, you will see how it impacts your body and it will BLOW YOUR MIND.
- Use healthy oils when cooking, my favorite is avocado oil.
- Up your fiber. I’ve been reading so much about fiber lately and how powerful it is at flushing toxins out of our bodies. It can help with balancing hormones/pre-menopause symptoms and so much more. I drink a fiber supplement daily and look for ways to eat more fibrous foods.
2. Take Supplements:
Fact is, we are unlikely to get everything we need from food alone, unless we are prepping and eating perfectly all day. So, this is where supplements come in and help bolster our bodies with the nutrients we really need to heal. For me, I also need to supplement for things I am not going to eat – such as fish and seafood – due to an allergy. Also, many of us are super deficient in nutrients like magnesium and vitamin D.
I wrote a detailed post with the 10 supplements I buy and take every day after years of research, trial and error. I even paid an expensive naturopath thousands of dollars last year to help me refine my approach and her changes actually made me worse, so I have since transitioned back to my own protocols.
That post is super beefy, so check it out if you want lots of supplement ideas.
3. Drain your Lymphatic System:
Those of us with inflammation are not draining toxins through our lymphatic system as efficiently as we should. In fact, most people don’t, because we are just taking in more toxins and chemicals through every day life and food than any generation before us.
Help your body get these toxins out, so you can heal, by draining your lymphatic system. There are a number of ways to do this, but here are my favorites:
- Drybrushing! My post on how to drybrush has a great graphic that makes it super easy to follow. Here’s the drybrush I use.
- Exercise – I joined Club Pilates years ago and it’s been transformative for me. Read my full review of it here.
- Lymphatic massage, you can go places that will do this for you or just learn to do it for yourself.
- Ice rolling your face/neck. I bought this one from Ulta, leave it in the freezer and I LOVE using it!
*Affiliate links are used in this post for products I use and truly believe in. This means I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase through one of my links.
4. Do Castor Oil Packs:
Castor oil packs are a powerful ayurvedic natural remedy used for thousands of years. They not only help detox the body, organs and whatever you put them on, but they also offer so many amazing health benefits. Plus, they’re really relaxing!
I wrote a whole post on how to do them and what you can use them for. This is a major way that you can support your body in healing and help reduce inflammation. If you haven’t tried them yet, I 10/10 would recommend.
If you are familiar, here’s what I use for mine:
- Castor Oil: Be sure to buy an organic, cold-pressed, 100% pure, hexane-free, extra virgin castor oil, preferably in a glass bottle.
- Soft Small Fabric or Waist Wrap
- Heat Pad: This can be a plug-in heat pad, a microwaveable rice heat pad, or something similar.
5. Reduce Sugar:
This is a really important one. It’s also the biggest struggle for me, personally. I just prefer things to be on the sweeter side. But, sugar can really wreak havoc on our health, particularly if we are already creating too much inflammation in our bodies.
I wrote a post on how to do a gentle sugar detox to get started. Some people can just cut it cold turkey. Once you get past the first few days, which can be awful, you will be amazed at how removing sugar improves your overall health, including mental acuity, sleep, moods, weight and much more.
6. Eliminate Dairy:
Removing dairy has been my big goal this year. I thought I had almost eliminated dairy, but I was wrong. It was sneaking in to my diet in so many ways that I wasn’t even paying attention. Then, I started struggling with something new that I had never had before – major inflammation in my esophagus and throat to the point that it sometimes made it difficult to eat and I wasn’t able to even take my supplements every day.
I ended up finding some obscure post while researching one night that said they removed all dairy and their esophagus inflammation was able to heal in 4-8 weeks. I decided to ruthlessly remove all dairy, even greek yogurt, and see what happened. Unbelievably, within a couple of weeks my esophagus was feeling better (I also upped my turmeric supplements and took a daily acid reflux medicine). Now, a month later, I feel pretty good and when I do inadvertently have dairy – it flares right back up again. Always remember that what worked before may not work anymore. At any point, your body can develop new intolerances and you’ll have to do eliminations you never considered before.
If you’re dealing with inflammation, I highly recommend removing dairy completely and see what happens.
7. Do Gentle Exercise:
Maybe you used to love long, heart pumping runs with music blaring in your ears, but chances are likely that if you’re reading this post – those days are over. It’s okay, friends, you still can, and should, do daily gentle exercise to help your body stay healthy. I personally love pilates, barre, and yoga.
One thing that helps me is to wear super soft clothing that doesn’t dig in or leave marks. If you have inflammation, there’s swelling places and that doesn’t feel good when something is digging into them. I’ve found that these affordable leggings are the absolute best.
I’ve written quite a bit about exercise, so I’ll link some of those posts here:
- My standing desk and walking pad combo to get my steps in
- Is Pure Barre worth it? My detailed review
- 10 free yoga flows for chronic pain
- 7 reasons to try Club Pilates
- 3 at-home workouts to keep you fit
8. Use Ice:
Here’s another new thing I have learned in the past year – if you’re feeling inflamed, put down the heat pad and pick up the ice pad. Heat can actually cause inflammation to get worse, so while it’s comforting, it’s not actually going to help you feel better.
Get ice packs, preferably with a soft cover so you don’t freeze your skin, and get cozy with the cold, baby. You’ll notice a shift in those areas where inflammation is accumulating and causing a lot of chronic pain.
- I use this ice headband for headaches
- I use these smaller ice packs for smaller areas of inflammation
- I use this larger ice pack for areas like low back, upper back pain. It’s shaped specifically for this area and straps on, so I can keep working and doing what I need to do while getting ice therapy
- I even have small ice packs I always have on hand for my kids.
There’s an ice pack for pretty much any ailment you could have. I’ve even seen foot wrap specific ice packs, so look around to find the one that fits what you need.
9. Reduce Chemicals:
This is a broad subject, but it needs to be addressed. We are taking in chemicals all around us, all the time, from the indoor air to the water in our showers. This is something I learned years ago from a book I read that has been transformative for me. I totally recommend anyone with inflammation to read it and apply as much of what she talks about as you can. Here are some ideas:
- Regularly replace air filters in your house. If you rent, ask the landlord to do it or if they won’t, just do it yourself.
- Try to filter water in the whole house. Water can be a huge source of toxins and we do absorb some of what is put on our skin.
- Use clean cleaning and household products, from cleaner to laundry detergent. Check out the EWG to see what the rating is of the product you use. A lot of products that say they are clean are NOT.
- Use clean beauty and skin care products, including body lotion, toothpaste and more. Slowly replace every product with something cleaner every time you finish something.
- If you’re in an older home, consider checking for mold.
- Use air filtration systems. We have added them in all bedrooms and the main living area. I really notice a difference in how quickly smells in the air evaporate and when the big fires were happening in California, it kept the air inside much cleaner.
10. Reduce Stress:
Are you laughing at this one? I used to laugh at it, too. My life has always been stressful. From my childhood straight through careers I have chosen for myself as an adult. It has just been the way things are for me. I understand if this one seems impossible for you.
However, our mental health has a powerful effect on our physical health and on our ability to heal. Sometimes our situations cannot be changed, but we can work on improving our breathing, our thoughts, and the way we talk to ourselves. Here are some ideas and feel free to click on links to read more about them:
- Repeat affirmations that will remind your mind and body to focus on healing
- Practice breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and stress
- Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine (it’s faster than you think!)
- Use free meditation apps to guide you through retraining your brain
- Write in a gratitude journal every day to focus on the good
- Read books that will help you heal past traumas or learn to train your mind for peace
- Spend time with a pet! Having a pet like a dog or cat can be excellent for anxiety and stress.
Wow, are you still reading? I hope this has given you some great ideas on how you can start or continue on your journey towards health!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just start small. Pick the ones that are easiest for you right now and then come back to the list when you’re ready to add more. Over time, these small steps will equal huge changes in your health, mindset, and daily lifestyle.
And, when you wake up, no matter how crummy you feel – tell yourself, “My body is healing every day.” Visualize your body working as it should and living your life pain free. Do this every single day and watch as this single act starts to help you feel more present in your body and in control of the day.
Feel better, friends. I am rooting for you.
Have a fabulous day,