Reduce Stress from the Inside Out: Anti Inflammatory Foods

{HABIT: Relax}
Month: 10 / Week: 4

We can’t control the stresses of life that occur all around us. But, we can control how we cope with those stressors. There are activities we can engage in, both to prevent stress and to reduce stress that comes our way. The first 3 challenges surround activities that can help us prevent and manage stress. In the last challenge, we’ll go over how to deal with stress happening right now.

Let’s start out with our diet. Is there something we could do everyday so that our internal stress can be managed more consistently? Yes, and it all revolves around inflammation.

Inflammation is a normal immune response to harmful substances and situations we may experience– including medical conditions or injury, excess body weight, stress, lack of activity, poor sleep, and even certain foods. It is the body’s protection mechanism.

smoothieNot all inflammation is bad. It helps our bodies heal from injury  and promote muscle regeneration, especially after intense strength training. But while some inflammation is necessary, too much can hinder your effort to improve your health. Even in the case where we need an inflammatory response,  we must allow our bodies to rest so it doesn’t become a chronic issue. This is why doctor’s often prescribe resting after an injury and personal trainers recommend rest days in workout programs (especially with intense activities).

Since inflammation is inevitable, how do you know when there’s too much? Unfortunately, it typically isn’t something you can physically feel. In some cases, particularly for those with autoimmune problems, pain can be a problem. But for many others, there’s no signs or symptoms. Just because you don’t feel anything doesn’t mean it isn’t going on or that it can’t do damage.

Rather than worrying too much about how much inflammation is actually occurring in your body, focus on those things you can do to manage inflammation. These are all things you can control. These include certain healthy habits and incorporating more anti inflammatory foods into your diet.

Healthy habits

  • Get good quality and quantity of sleep
  • Engage in regular physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage your stress

Healthy Food Choices

Eat more antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables

  • Great fruit choices : berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries), apples, citrus fruits
  • Great Veggie choices: leafy greens, sweet potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes
Stock up on fiber 
  • whole grains, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables

Load up with healthy fats (especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids)

  • Nuts/seeds
  • Avocado
  • Oils like olive, canola, safflower, sunflower, and soybean
  • Fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, and sardines
  • Flax and Chia seeds
  • Omega-3 supplement (look for one containing EPA and DHA)

Flavor your meals with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices

  • Turmeric
  • Garlic
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Pepper (red and black)
  • Basil
  • Cumin
  • Cloves
  • Parsley

Limit your intake of sugar & sweets 

CHALLENGE: Reduce stress from the inside out. Incorporate these foods into your daily diet.

New to the healthy habits challenge ? Start here.

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