Written by: Drew Canole
Signs of inflammation in the body should not be ignored; a growing body of evidence points to chronic inflammation as the common denominator between multiple chronic illnesses.
If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, it’s a good thing to be educated on. Understanding the signs of inflammation in your body -or in your loved ones- could come in handy in the future; it could help you spot an area that needs attention and care.
Nutrition plays a key role in the development and prevention of chronic inflammation.
Some research suggests that a balanced diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, may help reduce inflammation.
This is great news because, most of the time, we can control what we eat and choose to include more healthy foods in our diet.
You could help fight the side effects of chronic inflammation - anything from joint pain and bloating to debilitating physical pain- with superfoods as preventative medicine or the aid of your preferred physician, when diagnosed with a specific condition.
Use this guide to spot signs of inflammation in the body and try to our tips and recipes to prevent them naturally with whole foods, herbs, spices, and practices that support health from the inside out.
Scroll down to get to the recipes and natural supplements, stick around to learn more about the signs of chronic inflammation, and what it is in the first place.
What Is Inflammation?
You have an incredible and complex immune system whose main purpose is to protect you from harmful substances.
One of the ways it does this is through inflammation.
There are two types of inflammation: Acute and Chronic.
Here’s how they’re different and give off various signs of inflammation in the body.
When tissues in your body are injured, some cells release chemicals that cause swelling and attract white blood cells to help repair the injury and prevent it from spreading to other areas of the body.
Acute inflammation is the kind we experience after physical trauma, like when my 6th-grade girlfriend pushed me off the swing and I sprained my ankle.
It was swollen for 2 weeks. The acute inflammation in my ankle was my body’s way of padding it for repair and saying, “let’s be careful with this area for a while.”
When inflammation is hard at work, you may not necessarily experience pain or even be aware of it.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to a foreign invader or physical affliction. This could be cells, viruses, fungi, bacteria, chemicals, toxins, sprains, etc.
In all these cases, inflammation is a good and natural thing.
The signs of inflammation in the body when you experience acute inflammation may include swelling, redness, discomfort, etc.
When acute inflammation fails to be resolved, it becomes chronic.
It’s dangerous because the body may exhaust itself by continuously trying to repair something it considers injured, whether it’s really affected or not.
Inflammation is supposed to be a limited-time-only process. If it goes on too long, it takes away resources from the immune system and the body. That’s chronic inflammation.
In 2004, Time Magazine dedicated its front cover to inflammation, calling it “The Silent Killer”. Chronic inflammation is like having a swollen, red, puffy part of your body, usually internally, for weeks, months, or even years. You don’t always see visible signs of inflammation in the body, which is why healthy eating, as preventative medicine, helps.
This kind of inflammation has been linked to a multitude of complications and diseases such as autoimmune diseases, arthritis, asthma, obesity, premature aging, and more.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
Some of the leading causes of chronic inflammation -that contribute to the most common signs of inflammation in the body- are within our control: toxin intake, stress, and nutrition.
#1 We’re overtaxed.
Although your body can process a very large number of toxins, it could be overwhelmed by the overabundance of toxins present in our modern society; everything from food and plastic containers to cosmetic products may expose us to toxins. For example:
There’s evidence that some artificial sweeteners could be toxic for the gut microbiome.
This is part of the immune system and artificial sweeteners are now found in many processed foods. These foods may contribute to the signs of inflammation in the body, and the consumer may not be aware of it.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is also full of inflammatory foods. Gluten, wheat, refined sugar, chemicals, additives, artificial dyes, and processed foods may naturally trigger the body’s inflammatory response in the gut.
#2 We’re Very Stressed
Stress (especially chronic stress) also contributes to inflammation in the body. We live in a very go-go-go, ambitious world. A lot of us are living more IN stress than out of it.
Stress plays a big role in our health. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, is considered to be one of the primary factors in the connection between stress and disease.
In fact, even the thoughts we think may increase body toxicity and elevate levels of cortisol.
Although in small amounts it is helpful (fight-or-flight, triggering adrenaline and helping us in sudden unexpected situations), large amounts of cortisol can slowly wear down our systems and contribute to the signs of chronic inflammation.
#3 Our Bodies are Starving for Real Nutrients
A lot of people are walking around completely unaware that they are starving themselves. Yes, you may be eating lots of food… but how much of it contains actual REAL nutrients that can fuel and heal your body?
Think about what you’ve eaten in the past 24 hours. Write it down if you want to. How much of it consisted of…
- Fresh veggies
- Leafy greens
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats like avocado, coconut and olive oil, organic butter or ghee and organic eggs
- Organic, grass-fed meats
- Wild-caught fish
- Superfoods like spirulina, goji berries, raw honey and quinoa
- Sprouted grains
- Fermented, probiotic-rich foods
Was at least 80% of what you ate from the food groups above? How much was from…
- Processed foods
- White bread
- Conventional dairy products
- Processed drinks and sodas
- Fried foods
- Fast foods
- Wheat products
- Starchy products made from corn or potatoes
- Refined sugary foods
- Processed meats
As we mentioned, even when you don’t see signs of inflammation in the body or signs of chronic inflammation at all, the food you eat may contribute to a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory environment.
In enjoy vibrant health, you have to feed your body REAL FOOD with REAL nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
When a large percentage of your diet comes from list #2, you are not giving your body what it needs to thrive.
Eye-opening, isn’t it?
14 Signs Of Inflammation in the Body
There are many signs and symptoms that long-term inflammation may be happening inside your body. Here are just a few things to look for:
- Constant fatigue and insomnia
- Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
- Frequent infections
- High blood pressure
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Water retention
- Food cravings
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Joint pain
- Unexplainable weight gain
If you have one or more of these symptoms or conditions, don’t worry - you’re not alone. With the help of a licensed physician and the support of a clean diet that brings health from the inside out you may be on the road to recovery.
Don’t let the symptoms of inflammation in the body make you feel sad or hopeless - celebrate that you are on your way to a healthier you. This is a great opportunity to make healthier choices!
Recognizing signs of chronic inflammation is the first step to healing.
Reduce Inflammation And Support Your Health
You know some of the signs of inflammation in the body, these tips may help you reduce, prevent, or revert them. Consult with a doctor to help you treat your conditions.
#1 Fill Your Diet With Whole Foods
One of the best ways to control and reduce signs of inflammation in the body is through adopting healthy eating habits.
Focusing on a plant-based diet, full of nature’s most powerful medicine, straight from the earth. Also organic, grass-fed meats and fatty fish, organic kinds of butter and healthy oils.
Here are some foods that may contain anti-inflammatory properties:
- Fatty Fish: Full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
- Leafy Greens: Green veggies and superfoods are rich in phytochemicals, enzymes, and nutrients.
- Nuts And Seeds: Most nuts and seeds contain antioxidants. These play an enormous role in the fight against inflammation by repairing the self-inflicted cell damage it causes. Nuts and seeds are great sources of essential vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, amino acids and healthy fats that fight the signs of inflammation in the body.
- Beets: Another veggie high in antioxidants, beets are a good source of Vitamin C.
- Berries: A great source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients - and also delicious.
- Mushrooms: Try Reishi mushrooms, caterpillar fungus, bamboo fungus, maitake mushrooms, almond mushrooms, and lion’s mane.
- Garlic: some studies suggest that garlic may suppress inflammatory cytokine production, making it a potentially helpful food in the fight against signs of inflammation in the body.
- Raw Tomatoes: Contain anti-inflammatory nutrients like carotenoids and bioflavonoids.
- Turmeric: studies show that turmeric might be a powerful natural anti-inflammatory food.
- Ginger: Ginger has some phytonutrients known as gingerols that have been used in traditional medicine as a painkiller for arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. It may help reduce the signs of inflammation in the body, try it and see how you feel.
- Tart Cherry Juice: Montmorency cherries could have high anti-inflammatory content. Research at Oregon Health & Science University proposes that tart cherry juice may be an alternative to over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
- Cayenne: Contains an active ingredient called capsaicin, which may help lower signs of inflammation.
- Coconut Oil: The lauric acid in coconut oil may contain anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, coconut oil is a healthy fat, which could help keep your cells fueled, your brain alert and your digestion smooth.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: may have anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil becomes rancid when cooked above medium heat so it is best to consume it raw or used at low-med temps only in cooking.
Teas: White Willow Tea and Matcha Green Tea.
- Some Herbs: rosemary, sage, and ashwagandha, which might have relaxing properties.
#2 Increase Your Probiotics Intake
Various studies link probiotic intake with significant anti-inflammatory effects. At the very least, probiotics help rebuild and maintain healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome, in addition to potentially reducing signs of inflammation in the body.
Just in case, we have a handy guide explaining the difference between prebiotic and probiotic.
Here are some ways to get a healthy dose of probiotics:
- Eat fermented/cultured foods – foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso all naturally contain probiotics.
- Probiotic Supplement – Aim for at least ten strains per capsule and make sure that the one you choose contains strains of L. acidophilus or B. bifidum, which are the most potent of all the strains available.
Include BILLIONS of CFU’s (colony forming units) – It sounds like a lot, but when you think of the human body and the fact that it contains roughly 37 trillion cells, the idea of billions doesn’t seem like much.
#3 Eliminate Or Reduce Proinflammatory Foods
Foods that are high in (refined) sugar and fat, wheat products and dairy have been linked to inflammation, according to research. If you start to see signs of inflammation in the body, these are the first things to avoid eating.
Here’s a list of pro-inflammatory foods to keep in mind:
- Processed foods
- Processed meats
- Refined sugars
- Trans fats
- White empty carbs (think white bread)
Eating these often will not only contribute to the signs of inflammation in the body but also potentially lead to health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and more.
#4 Reduce or Eliminate Toxins In Your Environment
A growing body of evidence suggests that environmental toxins, such as mold, pesticides, endotoxins from fabrics like cotton, and more, may lead to chronic inflammation. Signs of inflammation in the body through toxins may include rashes, redness, inexplicable swollen areas, and more.
#5 Drink Plenty of Water
Proper hydration is key! The easiest rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day (example: a 150-pound person would aim for 75 ounces, minimally). More if you’re active.
#6 Reduce Stress
We talked earlier about the effect of chronic stress and the signs of inflammation in the body. Now let’s look at a few ways to better cope with and reduce stress in your life!
- Regular Exercise - Boosts endorphins and overall mood reduces stress and relieves you of that worry-anxiety-restless energy.
- Physical Contact - Make an effort to connect with those close to you. Hugs, holding hands, sitting close. They all make a difference.
- Dark Chocolate - Go for dark 70%+ chocolate as it contains the most antioxidant benefit. The fewer ingredients, the better. Just like all other food.
- Chili Peppers - The natural spiciness of peppers may increase the body’s production of endorphins. Have a low tolerance for spiciness? Add a little cayenne to your morning lemon water.
- Meditation - An obvious way to slow down, decrease stress, release anxiety and become more present. Guided meditations are a great way to begin.
- Laughter - Hang out with people who make you laugh. Watch comedy shows.
- Massage Therapy - A powerful tool for finding and releasing areas of stress in the body. It’s a fun way to deal with signs of inflammation in the body too!
- Chiropractic Adjustment - A healing modality that may help lower stress and muscle pain.
- Hydrotherapy - water could increase blood circulation and relax sore muscles.
Aromatherapy - may reduce anxiety and connect you with a sense of wellbeing.
- Music - Music has always been a healing art for me. If you’ve watched many of my videos, you’ve probably seen me bust out my full DJ set. Play music that makes you feel good.
#7 Get More Sleep
f you ask the average person if they got 8 hours of sleep the previous night, a surprising amount of them would say no.
Most people don’t see a connection between sleep and the signs of inflammation in the body, but it is extremely important for your health and stress levels to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
There is a connection between cortisol and sleep, and sleep deprivation may cause an elevated immune response as well as increased inflammation in the body.
#8 Exercise and Move
One of my favorite sayings is: Movement is life.
Some research points to exercise as one of the ways to reduce signs of inflammation in the body. I know a lot of people groan when they hear the word “exercise” so I will simply refer to it as movement.
Our bodies were born to move. To walk. To run. To feel. To become stronger and more powerful. When we choose not to take advantage of our body’s love of movement, we become stagnant.
Think of what happens to a pond of water that has no in or out flow. It becomes murky… cloudy, right? The same thing happens inside your body when you refuse to move it.
Have you ever spent several days or weeks cooped up only to feel your joints and muscles tightening up, maybe even causing pain?
This is because the gel-like substance - aka synovial fluid - in between your joints thickens the less you use it. When you are not actively mobile, you could actually start to feel more pain (I know because I experience this whenever I miss a workout, which I don’t allow to happen too often).
This joint pain may also be a sign of inflammation in the body and could be a call for movement and help. In addition to a healthy diet and movement, natural supplements with joint-loving superfoods - like our MOVE blend - could help.
If you are not working out actively, a great place to start and what we have our coaching students do is to simply walk 10-15 minutes a day. This also helps to lower cortisol.
Find ways that YOU love to move. Take up martial arts, fencing, ice skating, swimming, dancing or another pastime that will get your heart pumping. Or just take the time to walk out in the fresh air and soak up some vitamin D.
Some Joint-Friendly Foods
- Collagen (not vegan, but could be produced naturally with plant-based foods and minerals)
- Pine Bark (Arctic)
- Holy Basil
- Low-fat Milk
- Virgin Olive Oil
- Fatty Fish
- Cherry Juice
#9 Practice Mindfulness
Many people may ignore the connection between mindset and the signs of inflammation in the body, but the truth is, that the little voice inside our own head—the story that we tell ourselves— may cause the greatest amount of stress.
Negative thoughts create stress in the body. Too much stress may lead to inflammation, which, when chronic, creates an ideal environment for disease.
The good news is that we get to choose what we let in and how we react. So even if thinking positively doesn’t come naturally for you, consider the benefits of doing so the next time you allow your mind to shift to the dark side and commit to raising your level of mindfulness — awareness — to improve your circumstances.
Change your thoughts and upgrade your health:
- Notice – Notice your environment, including the people around you. Commit to focusing on at least one positive thing about each thing, person, or situation. Do this regularly, daily if possible. Notice how your thoughts shift with this exercise.
Be Present – In a world of multi-tasking and to-do lists, being present can be tricky. It’s time to train your mind to focus on the task or person in front of you. Put away any distractions, including your cell phone and be okay with the silence that being present often brings. Really engage, be inquisitive and be open to the process.
- Daily Gratitude – Each morning upon waking, or each night before you go to bed, state 3 things you are grateful for. You can say these things aloud to yourself or keep a gratitude journal. You may even be grateful that the signs of inflammation in the body are dissolving and going away.
Reduce Signs of Inflammation in the Body with Nutrition
For thousands of years, people all over the world used turmeric to alleviate pain, “de-bloat” and improve digestion, as well as eradicate the signs of inflammation in the body. Interestingly enough, we’ve only really begun to understand this amazing spice in the US.
I work long hours and spend a lot of time moving either from day-to-day tasks or at the gym. I make it a high priority to eat clean, but even I am still susceptible to inflammation. I personally find that consuming turmeric regularly helps me keep signs of inflammation in check so that I feel my best.
Turmeric has an active ingredient called curcumin, which is the main spice in curry and research indicates that it may have anti-inflammatory properties.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can incorporate turmeric to fight the signs of inflammation in the body:
- Add turmeric powder to smoothies
- Turmeric salad dressing
- Turmeric rice, and foods.
- Eat curry!
Just make sure you add one of these four ingredients to ensure turmeric absorption since otherwise most of it could be eliminated.
But if you’re like me… you’re busy!
Supplementing has proven to be one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting an adequate amount in your daily routine to reap all of the amazing benefits.
How To Pick The Right Turmeric Supplement
When looking for a turmeric supplement to reduce signs of inflammation in the body, be sure to choose one that meets the following:
- NO Chemicals. Some turmeric suppliers remove nutrients and antioxidants using chemical solvents in the separation process. In top quality turmeric, all of the early vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are included.
- Veggie Caps. Have you ever had an upset stomach when taking supplements? That’s usually because of all of the chemicals and solvents within the caps. Always choose supplements that use capsules made from natural vegetable-derived materials.
- Full Spectrum Formula. A lot of supplements are made from incomplete extracts, which only provide partial nutrients. When looking for a turmeric supplement, choose a full spectrum formulation. This ensures it contains all its phytonutrients, making it 4 times more usable by the body.
- Certified Organic. Some turmeric capsules have dangerous poisons from pesticides used on the farm they were cultivated on. Always choose organic.
Raw. Some turmeric capsules are oven-dried, cooked and heated. This may deplete the nutrients in those turmeric supplements.
Recipes To Fight Signs of Inflammation in the Body
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ½ cup frozen pineapple or mango
- 1 banana
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp maca root powder (optional)
Instructions: Combine all ingredients and blend to perfection. Drink immediately. A yummy way to help your body naturally reduce the signs of inflammation in the body.
Healthy Green Juice
- 2 leaves collard greens
- 2 kale leaves
- 2 green apples
- ¼ hemp seed oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 knuckles of turmeric
- 1 knuckle of ginger
Instructions: Add the Collard Greens, Kale, Turmeric and Ginger into the juicer. Pour the extracted juice into a glass. Add the Hemp Seed Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar into the juice and mix well. Sip and enjoy while you work to reduce the signs of inflammation in the body!
- ½ cup of pineapple
- 1 cucumber
- ½ lime
- Handful of cilantro
- ½ whole jalapeno (can use more or less depending on preference)
Instructions: Wash and chop ingredients as needed. Feed through a juicer. Drink immediately.
Tropical Turmeric Treasure
- 1 cup pineapple
- 1 inch turmeric root OR 1-2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 inch ginger root OR 2-3 tsp powdered ginger
- 1 cup tart cherry juice (preferably fresh, no sugar added)
Instructions: Combine all ingredients and blend to perfection. Drink immediately. A personal favorite when it comes to fighting signs of inflammation in the body around a workout.
- 3 cups coconut water
- 1 avocado
- ½ tsp turmeric powder OR fresh grated turmeric
- ¼ tsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 tsp raw honey
- fresh orange juice (enough to blend)
Instructions: Combine all ingredients and blend to perfection. Drink immediately.
Gold Star Shake
- 1 cup almonds milk
- 1 scoop vanilla plant-based protein powder
- 1 inch fresh turmeric, grated
- ½ cup fresh or frozen papaya
Instructions: Combine all ingredients and blend to perfection. Drink immediately. Another great one after a workout that may contribute to the signs of inflammation in the body.
Green Turmeric Juice
- 2 inches fresh turmeric
- 1 bunch romaine lettuce
- 3 carrots
- 1 lemon
- 1 cucumber
Instructions: Combine all ingredients and blend to perfection. Drink immediately.
The next time you find yourself wondering about the signs of inflammation in the body and how to prevent them, or how to help bring your body back to balance after a tough workout, injury or surgery, I hope you’ll refer back to this post.
I know there’s a lot of information to unpack here, but we want to arm you with options so you can live the vibrant and healthy life you deserve. Bookmark this post and come back to it often.
We’re in this together!
About The Author
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.