Mental and Emotional Causes of Inflammation
Types of Inflammation
If anybody tells you they have arthritis or something else that ends with -itis, they have inflammation, a very common problem nowadays. In some forms of inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, you feel heat, pain, redness and swelling. In other forms, such as diabetes and heart disease, you can only know you have inflammation after some tests. In acute inflammation, such as appendicitis and cellulitis, inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection, and it will subside when the infection or injury goes away. However, the body’s immune system can trigger inflammation in the absence of invaders or injury, and such inflammation tends to be chronic. This leads to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and possibly fibromyalgia. It also leads to many mental health problems such as depression, psychosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Mental and Emotional Causes
Besides commonly known or suspected dietary causes, there are emotional and mental causes of inflammation such as stress and unresolved emotions.
When you become stressed, the body responds by turning on the sympathetic nervous system and you enter the state of allostasis. This is the fight-or-flight response in times of danger. When the danger passes, your body returns to homeostasis, where every system is in balance. When you are constantly stressed, the body is constantly in fight-or-flight mode and the stress interferes with the body’s ability to shut down its own immune response and the body fails to return to homeostasis. Constant nervous system activation like this causes chronic inflammation.
Negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, shame and disgust can cause inflammation in the multiple parts of the body. If prolonged, the inflammation can turn into persistent pain such as unexplained headaches in people with unresolved anger or grief.
Vegan Foods That Lower Inflammation
While medication will help, the best way to deal with inflammation is to remove the cause. You can lower inflammation through emotional therapy, seeking the company of people who accept you, or managing your stress. You can also lower inflammation by eating certain vegan foods.
Fruits and vegetables
Eat a variety of raw fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors. Example of colorful fruits include blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Beets and carrots are examples of colored vegetables. The substance that gives them their colors reduces inflammation.
Green leafy vegetables
Eat raw or moderately cooked green leafy vegetables. Studies have found that the vitamin K in spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and kale reduces inflammation. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that destroy free radicals that also cause inflammation. Eat them in green salads, coleslaw, sauerkraut, kimchi, smoothies, juices, soups, stews, raw wraps (use the leaf as a wrap instead of using a flat bread). Add baby spinach to your pesto, guacamole or hummus.
Colored vegetables like beets contain a compound called betaine that fights inflammation.
Beans and lentils and other legumes are great sources of amino acids and fiber. They are also loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds. Sprout them and eat them in salads. Or soak them and cook them in a variety of dishes.
Make sure you include avocados in your salads or smoothies or regularly make guacamole. They contain healthy fatty acids that stop inflammation.
Brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat flour and other unrefined grains are high in fiber which also helps to fight inflammation.
Nuts and seeds
Eat a handful of a variety of nuts and seeds every day. They contain essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation. For example, pumpkin seeds contain an anti-inflammatory oil. Research found pumpkin seed oil reduced symptoms of arthritis better than the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Indomethacin.
Your diet is not complete without healthy plant fats that contain compounds that reduce inflammation.
Olive oil is rich in anti-oxidants that fight inflammation and perform many other roles in the body.
Flaxseed oil is a good source of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 essential fatty acid, which reduces inflammation. Use it raw in salads.
Hemp oil controls pH levels in the body and fights chronic inflammation through its rich content of gamma linoleic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that fights inflammation, and other anti-inflammatory compounds. People with multiple sclerosis (a chronic inflammatory disorder) were given hemp seed oil and evening primrose oil in a study, and their symptoms improved.
Coconut oil, when taken orally, can reduce inflammation related to Crohn’s disease.
Consider supplementing with the following:
Turmeric: It as been used for centuries for lowering inflammation. Its absorption can be improved when combined with black pepper.
Elderberry & Vitamin C: Both contain potent antioxidants which are key in the process of cellular regeneration.
Probiotics and prebiotics: They improve gut health and prevent inflammation of the digestive system.
Make sure you include the following herbs in your cooking.
Ginger: It’s a well-known traditional medicine for pain and inflammation. In one study, it reduced the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee in 247 people, and they needed less pain killers. Use it in cooking or drink ginger tea.
Garlic: It prevents the production of compounds that cause inflammation. Eat it raw in your salads.
Moringa: it’s a well-known anti-inflammatory in its raw form or in powder. You can add it to smoothies. It has a strong flavor.
Foods to Avoid
To make sure you beat inflammation, avoid inflammatory foods such as animal flesh, dairy, sugar and highly processed foods which acidify the body and cause inflammation.