Inflammation, or swelling, is part of the body’s natural healing system and helps fight injury and infection. But when there is no external injury or infection to heal, the immune system cells that naturally protect us begin to damage healthy arteries, organs, and joints. Daily stress, poor sleeping habits, less than optimal nutrition, and lack of exercise all contribute to inflammation in the body.
Initial signs of chronic inflammation can be subtle and include feeling tired or run down. As inflammation develops inside the body, it begins to damage your arteries, organs, and joints. There are several ways to reduce or reverse inflammation through a healthy, anti-inflammatory lifestyle. This begins with managing stress. If you experience constant stress in your life, this will contribute to inflammation. If you have never tried meditation, INSIGHTTIMER.com is an app you can download on your phone for free with guided meditations. Another way to de-stress is by practicing yoga. I am not that flexible and don’t always find time to attend a class, so I purchased a DVD I can do at home.
Regular physical activity is an excellent way to avoid inflammation and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and 10-20 minutes of weight training (or resistance training) five times a week.
What you eat can have a significant impact on inflammation. Eat more fruits and vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, tofu or soybeans, walnuts, and flax seeds. Other anti-inflammatory foods include blueberries, grapes, celery, garlic, olive oil, tea, and some spices (ginger, rosemary, and turmeric). Avoid or reduce foods that promote inflammation such as red meat, simple carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, refined sugar, and high fructose corn syrup) and anything with trans fats (margarine, corn oil, fried foods, and most processed foods).
You may not be able to change everything all at once, but if you are mindful of ways to reduce inflammation and take the necessary steps, it will pay off over time with improved health and reduced chronic disease.
Quote of the week:
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Recipe of the Week: Lemon Chicken with Broccoli
This is an easy, one-skillet dinner that can be served on its own or paired with angel hair pasta or brown rice.
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use Penzeys Italian Herb Mix)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)
4 cloves minced garlic
10 ounces fresh broccoli
Heat your oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle sea salt, pepper and Italian seasoning on each side of the chicken. Once your skillet is hot, add your chicken breasts. Brown chicken for about four minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and minced garlic to the skillet. Stir and scrape up any brown bits that are stuck on the bottom.
Add your chicken back to the skillet. Simmer the chicken in the sauce for about 5 minutes, turning halfway through. Add your broccoli to the skillet and cook until broccoli is bright green and tender and chicken is cooked through, about 5 additional minutes. Serve hot!