By now, most of us know that inflammation within the body is one of the leading factors to increased disease and illness. In fact, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and numerous others are linked to chronic inflammation. These health challenges are affecting more and more Americans each year and a large percentage of these cases could have been prevented.
A diet high in trans and hydrogenated fats and sugar along with highly processed carbohydrates like chips, cakes, and fast-food are the leading culprits with a lack of exercise also playing a critical role in the development of these illnesses.
Health educators have been getting the word out for years about ways to decrease harmful factors while increasing healthy lifestyle habits and there is hope that eventually this dangerous trend will dissipate.
There are subtle signs of inflammation too including indigestion, sinusitis, aches and pains, hay fever, allergies, bleeding gums, asthma, stiff joints, puffy eyes, skin rash, and headaches. In a natural, healthy state, our body should feel good most of the time. Any of these symptoms may be a clue that something is causing inflammation within your body. Paying attention to the early signs may be the key in preventing a more serious long-term illness.
Sometimes these early symptoms may be caused by environmental irritants such as air fresheners, candles, personal care products, or pollen while at other times it may be something internal such as a reaction to medications, foods, or even supplements.
I suggest that people listen to their body and the messages it sends us. If you don’t feel well, something is going on. Our body speaks to us at all times, and sometimes we need to get quiet and pay very close attention to that intuitive voice. If you’re having chronic issues of any type, begin looking for the source and don’t stop until you find it.
Here are some important ways to begin reducing inflammation today so that you can improve your overall health:
- Rid your Home of Toxins – Chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and personal care products are the main cause of breathing issues and long-term damage especially to our lungs. Do yourself and your family a favor and throw out all chemical cleaners and personal care products and replace them with organic, healthy alternatives. For a list of which chemicals are the most harmful, visit: ewg.org
- Elimination Diet – One of the easiest ways to figure out which foods are triggering you is to do a short elimination diet. Eliminate the main culprits including dairy, wheat, sugar, gluten, eggs, corn, and soy for 7 days. Gradually begin re-introducing them one at a time. Keep track in a food journal how you feel before, during, and after you eat them. Look for signs of inflammation including mucus, fatigue, headache, indigestion, scratchy throat, and watery eyes or nose. Sometimes these can occur the next day so pay special attention and trust your intuition.
- Eat Alkaline – Too much acidity in our body can cause inflammation. Acidic foods include animal proteins, dairy products, sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Try offsetting your acidity by bringing in more alkaline foods and beverages. Dark leafy green vegetables, pink Himalayan sea salt, and fresh lemons and limes are especially alkaline for the body.
- Superfoods – Some of the best ways to reduce inflammation are to consume concentrated forms of superfoods. Look for organic, raw, and non-GMO products such as: chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, sprouted kamut, turmeric, green tea, aloe vera, and tart cherry juice.
- Gut Health – By building our healthy gut flora, we strengthen our overall system and help to reduce inflammation. Take a potent probiotic supplement daily, eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, and kombucha tea. Bone broth has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the digestive track and colon. Focus on consuming more organic product to eliminate the consumption of Glyphosate which is a harmful chemical in herbicide sprays used on non-organic produce.
- Omega 3 Oils – Adding more omega 3 rich foods to your diet in the form of hemp, flax and chia seeds, avocados, olives, salmon, sardines, and walnuts along with krill oil supplements, will help will help to off-set chronic inflammation and assist in creating healthy cholesterol levels.
- Quality Sleep – Sleep is absolutely essential in reducing inflammation. Ensure that you get quality rest at night and consider taking a regular, short nap during the day when possible. Sleep is restorative and assists our immunity, hormones, and other bodily systems to work at their optimal. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night has been linked to increased inflammation.
- Exercise – Doing some type of moderate exercise daily that keeps your heart rate at approximately 60-85% of its maximum (220-age x .85) helps to lower all inflammation markers within the body and assists in decreasing overall stress.
- Chill – These days it is imperative to incorporate a de-stress practice. It will be different for each person but some of the proven methods of lowering C Reactive Protein which is one important inflammation marker in the body are deep breath work such as breath of fire, yoga, meditation, and chanting. The key is keeping it regular and making it a daily practice for best results.
While some inflammatory disease can be genetic, approximately 75% is related to our environment and our day to day lifestyle choices. Be wise, make good decisions and start today. Even the smallest of shifts can positively affect your life, energy, and well-being.
- Always consult with your physician before making changes in your diet, exercise, or supplement regimen.
Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com
He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!
These days, if you order a latte from your local coffee shop, or hit the milk aisle at your grocery store, you’ve probably noticed a massive movement in the non-dairy milk industry. Where there was only cow and perhaps goat’s milk, you’ll now find more options than you can even fathom.
The biggest reason for this shift seems to be that more and more people are lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t digest the protein in dairy products.
Also, many health-conscious consumers are learning about the potential downside of consuming dairy products which often contain added hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals.
Another reason why we are seeing such an array of trendy and nutritious non-dairy milk products is that more people are becoming vegan for both health and ethical reasons.
As a health coach, I teach people to listen to their bodies. Not everybody needs to avoid milk and in fact, dairy can offer many benefits. If you do consume milk however, I am a firm believer in buying organic, full fat, and if possible, *raw dairy products too. Raw dairy has not been over-processed and still contains healthy and beneficial enzymes.
But for those looking to try an alternative for whatever reason, here is a list of the most popular non-dairy milks available and a brief outline of their benefits. Keep in mind that all of these options can be made at home or purchased already prepared. Always look for unsweetened and organic whenever possible.
- One of the most popular of all non-dairy milks, almond milk is made from ground almonds and water and has a slightly nutty flavor.
- Almond milk is low in calories, and relatively low in fat.
- A serving of almond milk provides approximately 20% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium, 10% of vitamin A, 25% of vitamin D, and 50% of vitamin E.
- Made from the meat of coconut and water, coconut milk has a sweet flavor and is loved by many.
- Coconut milk is creamier than coconut water and higher in essential fats and is often added to Thai foods including curry dishes.
- Coconut milk is higher in calories than some of the other non-dairy milks.
- Many people on the ketogenic diet or those consuming higher fat for weight loss, often make coconut milk or cream a part of their daily diet.
- A serving of the full fat version provides approximately 21% of the RDA of fiber, 11% of calcium, 10% of folate, 22% of iron, and 22% of magnesium.
- Cold-pressed flaxseed oil is mixed with water to make flax milk which is delicious and nutty.
- Many people have said that flax milk is the closest in taste to cow’s milk.
- Relatively low in fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Contains a generous 30% RDA of calcium but doesn’t contain protein or fiber. Flax milk contains 10% RDA of vitamin A, 25% of vitamin B-12, and 25% of vitamin D.
- Blending raw hazelnuts with water makes hazelnut milk.
- Hazelnut milk is smooth and creamy with a bold, nutty flavor. Hazelnut milk is considered by many to be one of the tastiest non-dairy milks.
- Hazelnut milk contains a lot of natural sugar at approximately 14 grams per serving.
- Hazelnut milk has 1 gram of fiber and only 2 grams of protein per serving. There is 30% RDA of calcium in a serving of hazelnut milk, along with 10% of vitamin A, 25% of vitamin D, 10% of vitamin E, and 30% of riboflavin.
- Made by blending hemp seeds and water, hemp milk has a slightly nutty flavor and a very creamy texture.
- An 8-ounce glass of hemp milk contains approximately 5 grams of fat, mostly the healthier polyunsaturated ones.
- Hemp milk has only 2 grams of protein and does not contain any fiber.
- Hemp milk is packed with amino acids featuring all of the major amino acids.
- Hemp milk has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and approximately 25% of the RDA of calcium.
- Popular in Europe and one of my favorites! Oat milk is made by blending oat groats (hulled whole grains) along with filtered water.
- Oat milk has a mild flavor with a hint of sweetness and a rich, creamy texture.
- Oat milk is moderate in calories, high in fat and carbohydrates. It is also high in natural sugar with approximately 19 grams per serving.
- There are 4 grams of protein and 35% RDA of calcium in each 8-ounce serving. You can find 10% RDA of vitamin A, 25% of vitamin D, 10% of iron, and 30% of riboflavin in each serving of oat milk.
- Another popular option. Rice milk is made from water and most often brown rice. Rice milk has a wonderful, mild flavor and a thinner consistency.
- An 8-ounce serving of rice milk has approximately 120 calories and 2 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.
- A serving of rice milk only contains 2% RDA of calcium and is sometimes enriched with other vitamins and minerals.
- The most popular of all non-dairy milks. Made from grinding dry soybeans with water, soymilk may be an acquired taste. Soymilk is one of the thickest and creamiest available and has a slightly nutty taste.
- A serving of soymilk has 100 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar in a serving of soymilk. Soymilk has a generous 7 grams of protein and 30% RDA of calcium per serving. A serving of soymilk contains 10% RDA of vitamin A, 50% of vitamin B-12, 30% of vitamin D, 6% of folate, 6% of iron, 10% of magnesium, 30% of riboflavin, and 4% of zinc.
- Sunflower kernels are blended with water to make sunflower milk. Sunflower milk has a rich texture and a sunflower seed taste.
- An 8-ounce serving of sunflower milk contains approximately 70 calories and 4 grams of fat. Sunflower milk has 7 grams of sugar and doesn’t provide a significant amount of protein or fiber, with one gram of each in an 8-ounce serving. It has about 30% RDA of calcium, 10% RDA of vitamin A, and 2% of iron.
Whole Grain Milk
- Combining various whole grains and blending them with water make whole grain milk.
- Whole grains may include brown rice, barley, black rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa, among others. The flavor and nutritional value of whole grain milk varies based on the variety of whole grains used in the recipe.
- Nutritional values are similar to rice milk.
*Some people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, children, and some elderly may need to avoid raw dairy products. Always check with your doctor.
Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles.
He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!