Your Body, Your Rules: A User’s Guide to Reducing Internal Inflammation

Young Latin women doing pilates virtual fitness class with laptop at home - Sport wellness lifestyle concept and managing overall wellness to reduce inflammation
Medically Reviewed
May 1, 2024

As an integrative medicine practitioner with a focus on clinical nutrition, I see countless clients walk through my door with a common enemy: chronic inflammation. It can manifest in a multitude of ways – aches and pains, fatigue, digestive issues, skin problems, and even mood swings.  

While inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, when it becomes chronic and low-grade, it sets the stage for a host of health problems. 

The good news? You have the power to fight back! This guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to reduce inflammation and take charge of your health. 

The Silent Threat: Understanding Inflammation 

Imagine your body as a well-oiled machine. When you encounter a germ or injure yourself, the immune system dispatches white blood cells, like firefighters, to the scene. These cells release inflammatory molecules, creating heat, redness, and swelling to isolate the problem and promote healing.  

This acute inflammation is beneficial, helping your body mend and recover. 

However, chronic low-grade inflammation is a different beast. It’s like a fire smoldering beneath the surface, silently damaging healthy tissues and organs. This can lead to a lot of issues, including: 

  • Autoimmune diseases: When the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and celiac disease develop. 
  • Cardiovascular disease: Inflammation damages blood vessels and promotes plaque buildup, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. 
  • Neurodegenerative diseases: Chronic inflammation is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. 
  • Cancer: Inflammation creates a fertile ground for uncontrolled cell growth. 
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases: Chronic inflammation lays the ground for leaky gut issues. A condition caused by a compromised intestinal lining which can lead to the development of Irritable Bowel Diseases (IBD), like Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. 

Identifying the Culprits: What Fuels Your Fire? 

The root causes of chronic inflammation are complex and vary from person to person. However, some common culprits include: 

  • Diet: Processed foods, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and excess sugar can trigger and exacerbate inflammation. 
  • Food sensitivities and allergies: Hidden sensitivities and allergies to gluten, dairy, or other foods can spark a chronic inflammatory response. 
  • Stress: The stress hormone cortisol can weaken the immune system and promote inflammation. 
  • Gut health: An imbalance in gut bacteria can contribute to inflammation throughout the body. The gut lining is a superhero in our body but, when that lining is compromised, bad bacteria can make its way in and allow toxins and undigested food particles out to wreak havoc on our entire bodily system. Comprehensive testing can identify issues affecting your GI tract and its function.  
  • Environmental toxins: Exposure to pollutants, mold, chemicals, contaminated food and water, and heavy metals can trigger a chronic inflammatory response. 
  • Sleep deprivation: Poor sleep disrupts your body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes. Sleep is critical for healing and helping our bodies achieve optimal states. Constant sleep disruption is often a signal of underlying conditions.  

Taking Control: The Integrative Approach to Taming Inflammation 

The beauty of integrative medicine lies in its holistic approach. We don’t just treat symptoms; we address the underlying causes of inflammation. Here are some key strategies that can empower you to take charge: 

  • Nutrition is King (and Queen): A personalized anti-inflammatory diet forms the cornerstone of your plan. Think colorful fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Adequate intake of plant and animal protein sources to maintain healthy tissue and muscle mass. Healthy fats like omega-3s from fish and flaxseeds are your friends, while saturated and trans fats become unwelcome guests. Your Nava clinical nutrition team works with you to identify and address any food sensitivities that might be stoking your internal fire. 
  • Supplements can Support: Depending on your needs, targeted supplements like vitamin D, fish oil, curcumin, and probiotics can provide additional ammunition in your fight against inflammation. 
  • Stress Management is Crucial: Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your hormonal balance and promotes inflammation. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as massage, yoga, acupuncture and meditation, or spending time in nature, is essential. 
  • Sleep for Healing: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. During sleep, your body repairs tissues and regulates hormones that fight inflammation. 
  • Movement Matters: Regular exercise, even a brisk walk most days of the week, helps reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Additionally, gentle movement practices like yoga can also be beneficial. 
  • Detoxification Support: Consider detoxification protocols to eliminate built-up toxins from tick borne illnesses, mold and more, that can contribute to inflammation.  

Functional Medicine: Digging Deeper 

This personalized approach delves deeper into identifying any underlying imbalances contributing to inflammation. We may explore tests to assess gut health, nutritional status,  hormone levels, or hidden infections. 

Integrative medicine offers a powerful arsenal beyond diet and lifestyle changes. If you are ready to take a proactive approach to optimizing your health today and, for your future, an integrative approach could be the right fit.  

The information contained in this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This blog post does not establish a doctor-patient relationship and should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. 

Nour - Nava Health
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Nour Amri is a Licensed Integrative Nutritionist, a Certified Nutrition Specialist, and a Certified Ketogenic Nutrition Specialist. She earned her Master’s degree from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She also received her certification for mind-body medicine facilitation from Georgetown University School of Medicine. In her approach, Nour applies the principles of Integrative and Functional Nutrition, which emphasize healthy eating personalized to the client’s genetics, environment, lifestyle, and health concerns.