Whether you're struggling with stubborn belly fat or the smarting twinge of knee pain, you're likely dealing with low-level inflammation's effects upon your body.
Inflammation is a necessary part of our immune system — without it, we would not heal. Acute inflammation is the response in your body you might notice when dealing with a cut on the finger or a sprained, swollen ankle. The best part about acute inflammation is that it goes away.
However, our immune system can go a bit haywire and create low-level inflammation that not only stays but spreads throughout the body. Low-grade inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases as well as faster aging and weight gain.
An important component to cultivating optimal health is to reduce low-level inflammation in the body. And what research is now showing is that our gut is the core center of optimal wellness. The health of our gut flora is crucial if you want to live a healthy, vibrant life.
Here are five key steps that will help you create optimal gut health to reverse inflammation in the body and put you on the path to wellness:
1. Plant your gut garden with probiotics.
We have roughly 100 trillion bacteria in our gut. Unfortunately, because of the types of unhealthy foods the majority of people are eating, our gut bacteria balance favors the unhealthy microbes that are promoting inflammation and weight gain.
Adding cultured and fermented foods or as a supplement, also called probiotics, actually "plants" healthy, friendly gut microbes to help create optimal health and reverse inflammation. Probiotics are cultured or fermented foods that colonize our guts with health-boosting micro-organisms. Add a probiotic or cultured and fermented food to your daily diet such as yogurt (without sugar), kefir, natto, kimchee, sauerkraut, pickles, and cheeses.
2. Fertilize the gut garden with prebiotics.
Our gut garden needs fertilizer for optimal results. That fertilizer is called prebiotics. Prebiotic foods contain unique nondigestible plant fibers such as inulin and oligofructose that help your healthy bacteria flourish.
Foods that are high in prebiotics include garlic, beans, bananas, artichokes, oats, jicama, avocado, leeks, onions, chicory root, asparagus, or any green leafy vegetables. Friendly bacteria need these specific foods in order to thrive and help reverse inflammation.
3. Enrich the gut garden with nutrients.
Further support your gut garden with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which are powerful in reversing low-level cellular inflammation. Add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to meals or smoothies such as turmeric, rosemary, quercetin, and ginger.
4. Pull the weeds in your garden by removing toxins.
Unhealthy gut bacteria require refined foods such as sugar (especially sugar), junk foods, sodas, white rice, and white bread to flourish and promote inflammation. Gut microbes outweigh our cells 10 to 1 — so imagine the power they wield in our food choices and our cravings. These unhealthy gut bacteria need these foods, extract more calories from these foods, and store them as fat. Remove these refined, unhealthy foods from your diet to create optimal health, lose weight, and reverse inflammation.
5. Add digestive enzymes.
Enzymes are critical to every cell and every physiological process in your body, including digestion. Unfortunately, our natural enzyme production begins to decline by age 20, so by the time you reach middle age, your body is operating with much lower enzymatic activity. And what is more, even the healthiest of foods are of little use if they are not digested and assimilated properly. Digestive enzymes not only help promote optimal digestion and health, they also help avert inflammation. Add a digestive enzyme supplement between meals to help reverse inflammation, or before a meal to aid in digestion.
Taking care of your gut, and the friendly bacteria that reside there, may be one of the single most important things you can do for your health. Remember to plant, fertilize, and enrich your gut garden to reverse inflammation.