Fight Inflammation with Helpful Heirlooms

Reduce chronic pain naturally by turning your vegetable garden into a source of low-impact exercise and anti-inflammatory bounty.

Photo by Adobe Stock/Jacob Lund

Being diagnosed with osteoarthritis can be devastating. At the time of my own diagnosis, I could barely walk, and pain kept me from sleeping for weeks. Now, four years later, I have 80 to 85 percent less pain and a significantly improved mood, without taking any prescription pain medication, thanks to an active lifestyle and a diet filled with freshly grown vegetables. In moving toward wellness, I’ve taken a largely natural route to reduce my severe inflammation. I walk an hour every day, exercise in the sun whenever possible, and consume a largely anti-inflammatory diet prescribed by a nutritionist.

Find Your Food Plan

According to Wendy Marcason of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Knowledge Center Team, “[Inflammation] is the natural way the body’s immune system responds to attack, infection, or injury. … The links between diet, inflammatory processes, and diseases are the topics of intense current research.”

Scientific studies on inflammatory foods are confusing because they vary and sometimes conflict. For instance, some say you should avoid nightshade-based vegetables, other diets say only avoid wheat, while still others claim you must completely give up carbs. Definitively, anti-inflammatory foods are foods that don’t contribute to an inflammatory response in your body. Each person has different reactions to foods. Therefore, building an anti-inflammatory food plan should be an individualized experience.

Photo by Adobe Stock/epiximages

When I eat a heavy dessert loaded with dairy and wheat, for instance, my reaction is bloating and discomfort in my gut, as well as swelling and pain in my arthritic joints. It’s not severe on its own, but combined with the daily toll on my body from all other foods and activities, there’s a substantial pain reaction. My reactions have taught me that it’s not just one thing that causes inflammation, such as overworking a joint, but a series of regular pain responses from my system related to particular foods I’ve consumed in combination with my activity. Once I realized this, I asked a nutrition expert to help me focus on my individual needs. Finding an expert to help you better understand your own body and what reactions you have to certain foods is more likely to help you achieve inflammation reduction and pain relief than fad diets or researching online.

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