When was the last time you answered “How are you?” with “ Amazing!”? Do descriptions such as “tired, stressed and lifeless” seem rather familiar to you? Constant fatigue can be a typical sign of chronic inflammation. If you eliminate the triggers and strengthen your immune system with the right foods, you’ll soon be radiant with health – full of power, health and thirst for action!
“Silent inflammation” – Energy thief
Even after a night’s sleep, you feel like you’ve been whacked. You drag yourself through the day and might even fall asleep at your desk if not for coffee and chocolate bars. And then there’s this constant cloud of confusion floating above you, clouding your mind. If you can barely remember the last time you jumped out of bed full of energy and thirst for action, you may well suffer from chronic inflammation. Since there are no typical symptoms of acute inflammation, such as pain, redness and swelling, it is also called “silent inflammation”.
Weak, tired and lifeless – no normal condition
What those affected have almost forgotten: A healthy body is full of energy and vitality. It doesn’t need coffee to get going in the morning, nor does it need a constant supply of sugar to fight energy lows. Since the symptoms of chronic inflammation are rather unspecific and develop slowly, the inflammation often goes unnoticed for a long time. Many not only get used to their symptoms, they identify with them after a certain period of time: “I’m just someone who’s always tired and exhausted – I’m also always very busy”, or “I’ve always had these headaches and digestive problems – it’s just the way I am”.
Identifying and spotting inflammation
The first important thing to realise: No healthy person should suffer continuously from discomfort. If this already exists over a longer period of time, you should get to the bottom of the cause. Often, there is a chronic inflammation hiding behind it. This not only robs your energy and causes unpleasant symptoms, it can also lead to chronic inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, intestinal diseases or arthritis.
These symptoms may indicate chronic inflammation:
- constant fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy
- muscle pain or weakness
- restless sleep, night sweats
- digestive problems or intolerances (such as lactose or gluten intolerance)
- frequent colds and infections (such as sinusitis, tonsillitis or cystitis)
- concentration problems, forgetfulness
- depressive moods, increased irritability
Detect and eliminate triggers
Chronic inflammations can be caused by unhealed bacterial and viral infections or the continuous exposure to allergens such as amalgam (link to Part I: “Chronic inflammation – ‘Environmental dentistry’ reveals source”). In most patients, several factors contribute to the persisting inflammatory condition.
These triggers can act like fire accelerators on the inflammation:
- psychological stress
- lack of sleep
- high alcohol consumption
- stomach fat
- bacterial, virus, fungi
- metals, titanium
- plasticisers (e.g. in plastics)
– Use less plastic and choose natural materials such as glass
- Chemicals and other foreign substances in cosmetics, detergents and food products
– Use natural alternatives such as eco-cleaners and natural cosmetics with fewer chemicals and impurities; eat less processed products and more whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes
– Gradually replace your products
TIP: Apps such as “CodeCheck” and “ChemicalMaze” tell you which ingredients your products contain and whether or how harmful they are. Get used to reading labels and checking ingredients. What sounds like too much effort at first will quickly become a habit that will always pay off.
Source of inflammation in the mouth: Visit an “environmental dentist”
Since the immune defence starts in the mouth, good oral and dental hygiene is crucial. Pathogens that cause inflammation can be effectively combated as early as this stage. In addition to brushing your teeth regularly (at least twice a day), use dental floss and have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months. If you have fillings or root canal teeth, be sure to have your tooth status checked by an “environmental dentist”. The new holistic discipline of “environmental dentistry” specialises in detecting inflammation in the mouth and avoiding new ones. Read more about this topic here (Link to part I: “Chronic inflammations – ‘Environmental dentistry’ reveals source”) and make an appointment for a check-up here (link to appointment schedule).
Prevent inflammation: Move, relax, eat healthily
Another factor that often plays a role in chronic inflammation is too much abdominal fat. The fat around the middle of the body, also known as visceral fat, produces inflammation-promoting messenger molecules and thus acts like a hormonally active organ. Overweight people with a lot of abdominal fat are at particular risk of developing inflammatory diseases. If you reduce anti-inflammatory substances such as sugar, alcohol and white flour products, and instead integrate anti-inflammatory foods such as green leafy vegetables, berries and ginger into your diet, you not only support the healing process, you also automatically lose weight and abdominal fat. Those who move a lot can further improve their overweight. This is important simply because exercise supports blood circulation, oxygen transport and metabolism and thus prevents inflammatory processes. In addition, this keeps your joints flexible, where inflammations like to settle. Another protection factor that you should definitely integrate into your everyday life is relaxation. Because stress clearly promotes inflammatory processes in the body. This is not just about acute phases of stress at work. Rather, the quiet continuous stress in everyday life puts a strain on the entire body – often unnoticed. If you have particularly high expectations of yourself and are constantly running at full speed, treat yourself to regular active timeouts. Take only a minute several times a day to breathe deeply into and out of your stomach. This lowers your blood pressure, calms your thoughts and relaxes the whole body.
Nutrition: Processed products act like fire accelerators
Nutrition plays a particularly important role in chronic inflammation. While many processed products promote inflammatory processes, natural, fresh foods can reduce inflammation levels in the blood.
These 5 substances promote inflammatory processes and are harmful to your health:
- Gluten (not only in the case of intolerance; gluten always has an inflammation-promoting effect)
- White flour products
- Trans fats or trans-unsaturated fats (for example in croissants, biscuits and other baked goods, margarine, crisps and chips)
A healthy and balanced diet is essential in the fight against inflammation. It regulates the immune response of the body, protects the cells and maintains a healthy intestinal flora, which represents 80 percent of the entire immune system.
With these foods, you prevent inflammations and support the healing of your body:
- Berries: Antioxidative power protect cells
Be it blueberries, strawberries or raspberries – the antioxidants in the small fruits capture free radicals, thus stopping oxidative processes and protecting your cells.
- Turmeric and ginger: Essential oils have anti-inflammatory effects
Turmeric and ginger have been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In addition to the essential oils, the yellow dye curcumin in turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory.
- Green leafy vegetables: Chlorophyll supports the body’s own detox
Dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard are particularly rich in chlorophyll. The plant dye helps the body to eliminate heavy metals and environmental toxins. Green leafy vegetables also contain many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium and iron, which strengthen your immune system.
- Garlic and onions: Antibacterial effect
Onions and garlic are among the oldest medicinal plants. Their odour-intensive sulphur compounds allicin and quercetin have a strong antibacterial effect and protect you from infections. The bulbs are even more effective raw than cooked.
- Kefir, kombucha, etc.: Probiotic food for a healthy intestine
If the ratio of beneficial and harmful bacteria in the intestine is out of balance, the risk of developing chronic inflammation increases. Those who regularly – preferably daily – consume probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha support the balance of the intestinal flora and thus contribute to a strong immune system.
- Wild salmon, walnuts, linseed oil: Omega-3 protection
Salmon caught in the wild, and other fatty fish such as mackerel and herring are the most effective sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) contained therein inhibit inflammation. When you buy your fish, make sure that it is caught in the wild. Otherwise, it is most likely exposed to antibiotics. In general, you should not eat fish more than once a week due to heavy metal exposure. So also consider using vegetable sources such as linseed oil, walnuts and chia seeds. These contain the ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which your body uses to produce the more biologically active EPA and DHA. When consumed daily, vegetarians and vegans can also satisfy their needs with plant sources.
TIP: The App “WWF-Fischratgeber” (German App) can help you make the right choice when buying fish.
- Bone broth: Amino acids repair cells
When the bones of cattle or poultry are cooked for a particularly long time (up to 72 hours), a broth is produced which contains numerous amino acids and minerals. The amino acids proline and glycine, for example, together with the additional collagen they contain, repair the cells that are affected by inflammation. In addition, bone broth contains L-glutamine which acts specifically on the intestinal walls.
- Coconut oil: Fights intestinal pathogens
The fatty acids in coconut oil fight bacteria, viruses and fungi in the digestive tract. The fact that over 90 percent of coconut oil consists of saturated fatty acids does not make it – although people still say so – “unhealthy”. The long-standing assumption that saturated fatty acids promote cardiovascular diseases is increasingly refuted in the scientific community. Another bonus of coconut oil: You can heat it up to a high temperature, which makes it particularly suitable for frying.
Yellow power against inflammation:
Vegan turmeric-banana smoothie
These anti-inflammatory ingredients support your cells:
- 150 ml almond milk or a nut milk of your choice
- half a ripe banana
- 1 tbsp chia seed (it is best to soak in water for five minutes)
- 0.5 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch of black pepper (improves the absorption of turmeric)
- optional: 1 tbsp honey
Puree all ingredients in a blender until a creamy consistency is obtained.