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Inflammation: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

What Is Inflammation?

Acute inflammation is a normal bodily process that actually defends and protects against further infection or injury. For example, when you roll your ankle, you are likely to experience redness, swelling and heat around the area, as well as pain.

The inflammation process involves immune system cells and chemical messengers, that work together to heal the area and to remove any harmful agents. The process usually resolves the injury quickly, and the symptoms of inflammation subside. This is an example of normal / healthy inflammation.

When Inflammation Goes Wrong

If the body is under ongoing pressure from external and internal factors like stress, toxins, lack of sleep and so on (see the circle below) and the body, including the immune system, is working overtime, this can result in chronic inflammation across the various body systems.

If this is left unchecked, it can lead to a number of imbalances in the body, which start by presenting as a range of symptoms such as fatigue, food sensitivities, gut issues and so on (see the grey box below).

Over time, without any support to help resolve these underlying issues, disease can develop such as autoimmune disease, chronic pain, hormonal disorders, psoriasis, depression and more (see the red box below).

How Nutritional Therapy Can Help

The Nutritional Therapy strategy for reducing inflammation and resolving the cycle of chronic inflammation focuses on nutrition and lifestyle changes.

This includes shifting / improving the balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods; simply put:

  • Eating more anti-inflammatory foods and reducing pro-inflammatory foods

Pro-inflammatory foods

  • Sugar

  • Sugary drinks and juice

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • White flour, bread, rice, pasta

  • Pastries and cakes

  • Gluten containing grains

  • Processed foods and meats

  • Trans fats

  • Deep fried foods

Anti-inflammatory foods

  • Healthy fats – oily fish, olive oil, nuts, seeds

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits – eat the rainbow!

  • Herbs & spices – turmeric, ginger, parsley, chives etc.

  • Green tea

  • Dark chocolate (85% and above)

Lifestyle Changes To Help Reduce Inflammation

When we consider managing inflammation purely from the perspective of food, we massively limit our potential progress. This is because food is not the only thing that impacts inflammation - far from it!

Stress can also activate inflammation, so managing stress is essential to reducing chronic inflammation. Do not skip this!

Here are some ideas to reduce stress on the body:

  • Good quality and quantity sleep

  • Movement practice

  • Mindfulness practice

  • Counselling / Psychotherapy

  • Implementing healthy boundaries

  • Asking for help from family and friends

  • Support dealing with trauma / Compassionate Inquiry

  • Breathwork

  • Cold water therapy

  • Nature therapy

  • Regular relaxation (such as any of the above, plus hobbies like hiking, knitting, doing puzzles etc.)

Toxin Exposure

Toxins and chemicals are also a source of inflammation. They can put pressure on the liver, lead to a build up of toxins and / or slow down essential detoxification processes in the body such as hormone elimination, contributing to imbalances in our hormones and consequent symptoms such as painful periods, heavy periods, PMS, headaches, and more.

We can aim to manage our exposure by reducing use of beauty products, perfumes, scented candles and fragrances, household cleaning products, cling film and plastic food storage; eating organic food where possible, and limiting chargrilled food, alcohol and smoking (including passive smoking).

Next Steps

Hi I'm Molly, I'm a UK-based Nutritional Therapist (DipION, mBANT, CNHC) and Self-Compassion Coach (MSc) serving my community in Harpenden and online. Here in my little online home, you'll discover the benefits of nutritional therapy and complementary therapies for autoimmune disease and chronic illness.

Want to understand more about nutrition for autoimmune diseases? Download my free recipe book and discover 12 Nutritionist-Certified Recipes to Help Alleviate the Symptoms of Autoimmunity & Chronic Illness.

If you’re ready to take the next step and get back to feeling amazing again, please book a FREE 1:1 call, in which I’d love to talk to you about your individual diet and lifestyle, share with you some personalised advice, and answer any questions you might have.


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