The process by which the body regularly heals and detoxifies itself can also lead to life-threatening illnesses. The culprit: Inflammation. T Without it, stubbed toes and runny noses don’t heal; inflammation is the body’s natural healing ability—essentially removing the injury to allow for recovery—but it can also accumulate in the body in a chronic fashion, leading to serious illnesses such as arthritis, obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Harvard Medical School research found that inflammation becomes chronic because of an imbalanced immune system. Mast cells are normal immune cells that in healthy individuals repair damaged cells. But in individuals with obesity and diabetes, mast cells accumulate in fat and can actually leak into tissue and start to cause serious damage.

Your diet and lifestyle choices can help you outsmart your body’s glitch mechanism and prevent—even reverse—the effects of chronic inflammation.

Reduce Inflammation Causing Foods

Red meat, dairy, processed foods, alcohol, and sugar are some of the leading causes of inflammation in the body due largely to the high incidence of Omega-6 fatty acids found in processed foods and animal products. While Omega-6 (like from hemp) is crucial for our health, too much can cause chronic inflammation.

Maximize Hydration

Water is important for every cell of our bodies, and it’s especially powerful in flushing out toxins and inflammation. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol can dehydrate leading to more inflammation.

Add Healthy Omega Fats

Essential fatty acids, like the Omega-3s found in hemp or flax oil, support the body’s anti-inflammatory response and reduce chronic inflammation. They can aid in pain management from chronic arthritis or acute injuries.

Getting Friendly with Bacteria

Cultures around the globe have eaten fermented or cultured foods since antiquity. The Standard American Diet has replaced these traditional foods for sugary, fatty, saltier versions that are often void of the necessary probiotics that protect and support the digestive system. Whether adding in cultured foods such as kimchee, sauerkrautor tempeh, or using a probiotic supplement, this can be a great aid in treating and preventing chronic inflammation.

Tapping the Power Plants

The plant kingdom is loaded with powerful healers, from plant enzymes in pineapple (bromelain) to turmeric (the seasoning in Indian food), which is loaded with curcuminoids—powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Ginger is another powerful inflammation fighter that can be incorporated easily into your diet or taken as a supplement.

GOLDEN MILK TUMERIC TEA     This lightly spiced drink is similar in flavor to chai and is packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Makes 2

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 (1-inch) piece turmeric, unpeeled, thinly sliced, or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns Ground cinnamon (for serving

Whisk coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, honey, coconut oil, peppercorns, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs and top with a dash of cinnamon. Golden milk can be made 5 days ahead. Store in airtight container and chill. Warm before serving. Dried turmeric can be substituted when fresh is not available. Dried turmeric will settle to the bottom of the mug, so stir well before drinking.