For us suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, inflammation can be a daily battle. While medications can help reduce the symptoms, there are also lifestyle changes that can be made to minimize inflammation and improve our quality of life. Here are six tips for minimizing inflammation in those with ankylosing spondylitis or other inflammatory conditions:
The foods you eat can have a huge impact on inflammation levels in the body. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is essential to reducing inflammation. It’s also important to limit processed foods, fried foods, and refined sugars as these can all trigger inflammation. If this feels confusing and overwhelming, try to simply think of eating whole foods - so foods that are in their natural form, like beans, lentils, rice, nuts, fruits & vegetables, meat, fish, and so on. Avoid things that are man-made like chips, deep fried foods, candy, ready meals, fast food, etc. There are countless anti-inflammatory and/or whole food recipes available online that make it easy to get started on an anti-inflammatory diet.
Turmeric & Turmeric Tea
Turmeric has long been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies have shown that turmeric can significantly reduce inflammation when consumed regularly. One great way to incorporate turmeric into your daily routine is by drinking a cup of turmeric tea each day. Vahdam India has an entire line of turmeric teas I love, or you can simply boil some turmeric and ginger root, add some honey, and you have yourself a yummy home-made concoction! You can also try Golden Lattes which are made with your milk of choice, ground turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and you can add some cinnamon and cardamom as well if you'd like, and some honey. SO GOOD!
Stress is one of the most common triggers of inflammation in the body so it’s important to find ways to reduce stress levels whenever possible. Simple activities like meditation, yoga, journaling, or even taking a relaxing walk can all help lower stress levels naturally and minimize inflammation triggered by stress hormones such as cortisol.
You've probably heard this a million times but there is a reason people and doctors keep pushing it! Regular exercise has been proven to reduce inflammation throughout the body while also boosting energy levels and improving overall health and wellbeing. But you don’t need to feel overwhelmed; start small with simple activities like walking or stretching then gradually increase your intensity as you become more comfortable with exercise routines. I also like to just commit to 5 minutes a day (we ALL have 5 minutes). That way you get into a routine without getting overwhelmed, and sometimes those 5 minutes turn into 20 minutes or even 60 minutes! But by only committing to 5 minutes you dont let yourself down and you'll be more inclined to stick with it! If you dont know where to start, check out my virtual yoga studio!
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep not only leads to fatigue but it also increases inflammatory markers in the body which leads to higher levels of pain and discomfort for us with ankylosing spondylitis. I like to aim for 8-9 hours of sleep each night if possible, as this helps keep inflammatory markers at bay while allowing the body enough time to rest and recover from any physical activity you may have done during the day .
Living with ankylosing spondylitis doesn’t mean living without hope; there are many lifestyle changes that can be made to minimize the effects of this debilitating disease including changed dietary habits, regular exercise, reduced stressors, incorporating turmeric into your daily routine, and getting enough sleep . With these tips , you will be able to take control of your life while minimizing uncomfortable symptoms associated with ankylosing spondylitis. You got this! Start small but start NOW!