At risk of stating the obvious, inflammation is the main cause of symptoms when someone suffers with Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
It’s likely that the one test a doctor does with you if you do suffer with one of these conditions is to check your inflammation levels.
CRP, Lysozyme, Calprotectin, and Lactoferrin are all inflammatory markers that they may check.
In some ways, they can be useful for tracking progress, but a measure of inflammation doesn’t tell us an awful lot.
In my opinion, they would be better off running tests and implementing protocols to help get to the cause of that inflammation.
That said, there ARE things that you can be doing to help reduce inflammation (many of which a doctor likely isn’t sharing with you right now), which can only be beneficial for your symptoms.
Here’s some of the most effective…
Cut down on sugar
I’m not necessarily as anti-sugar as a lot of people, and don’t really believe that people need to cut out all sugar.
I certainly still have sugar in my diet (I’m particularly partial to ice cream at this time of the year…in fact, for all the year!).
However, over consumption of sugar is a major cause of obesity, as well as being linked with increasing inflammation.
So, while you don’t need to cut it all out necessarily, if you do want to keep your inflammation as low as possible, a diet full of sweet, fizzy drinks, desserts and chocolates might not be the best plan.
The omega 3 fats found in oily fish have been shown to beneficial at helping to reduce inflammation levels. The types of fish to be looking for are things such as sardines, wild salmon and mackerel.
If you don’t eat a few servings of oily fish each week then using a quality fish oil each day – such as Advanced Fish Oil – is certainly recommended.
Stress is a major driver of symptoms, it’s been shown to increase inflammation levels and will affect how well you digest foods (not to mention, quite often, the foods that you choose to eat).
Keeping stress under control is critical for long term health.
Sleep is critical for your overall health and lack of sleep will impact your inflammation levels.
In fact, like stress, it will also impact the food choices you make, your activity levels and many other aspects of life. Studies have shown a lack of sleep to be linked with flares in people with IBD.
There is so much that can be done to help improve sleep, from changing the foods you eat before bed, working on stress, pre-bed time routine and much more.
Identify food sensitivities
Eating certain foods that you are sensitive to will increase inflammation. These can be anything and while certain blood tests can be done to test for food sensitivities they generally aren’t all that accurate, certainly not at the start of someone’s journey.
An elimination and reintroduction protocol on the other hand, that I take my clients through, can be very effective and help to identify these foods.
Over time, as we heal the gut, many of these sensitivities can go away, but while you are struggling and while gut health isn’t where we need it, certain foods will be causing inflammation.
This doesn’t mean overdo it on the exercise front (because doing too much can be a stressor on the body that increase inflammation) but at the same time, some form of activity (even if it’s only a few short walks each day) has been shown to help reduce inflammation.
Improve the quality of your fat intake
Trans fats, in particular, can be harmful and add to inflammation.
Instead, replace these trans fats with good quality unprocessed fats and your health, energy, hormones and inflammation will thank you for it.
Careful with the alcohol
While a small amount of certain types of alcohol (such as wine) can help to lower inflammation levels for many people, too much alcohol, or the wrong types can drastically increase it.
Turmeric has been shown in many studies to be an effective anti-inflammatory with some studies showing that its even more powerful than 14 of the most heavily used anti-inflammatory medications (and without the side effects).
Advanced Turmeric contains organic turmeric (so doesn’t contain any nasty toxins), and includes Bioperine, a black pepper extract that ensures the benefits of the turmeric are effectively absorbed.
Our guts are home to lots of different types of bacteria that can control our mood, symptoms, digestion…and inflammation levels.
Bad bugs can cause problems with all those things, and the good bugs can help a huge amount.
Stool testing can identify any bad bugs (which can be targeted and killed with an effective protocol), and certain supplements (as well as diet and lifestyle) can help to replenish and maximise the good bugs.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, in particular, have been shown to be especially effective at helping inflammation.
Avoid Nutrient Deficiencies
Vitamins such as A, D, E and K are crucial for overall health and wellbeing but when deficient can increase inflammation levels.
A good, varied nutritious diet can help here, though vitamin D levels are largely dependent on sun exposure to ensure optimal levels.
When enough sun exposure isn’t possible (i.e. outside of the summer in the UK, and even sometimes during the summer when people don’t get outside enough) then supplementation with something such as Advanced D3 can help a huge amount.
Meditation / Mindfulness
A lot of people turn their noses up at the thought of meditating but it really does have so much in the way of benefits.
This study showed benefits for people with Crohn’s and Colitis on inflammation levels when taking part in a 6-month mindfulness programme.
Coffee and Green Tea
Now I should say that this won’t work for everyone as many people do have a sensitivity to caffeine and find that it can cause a worsening of symptoms.
But that said, studies have shown the in some people caffeine (in moderation!) can lower inflammation levels.
Have more sex
We’ll end on a high, with one study showing that men who had sex more than once a month were less likely to have elevated inflammation levels.
Hopefully that’s given you a few things to be thinking about!