A Doctor Calls These the Biggest Inflammation Triggers—and They Aren't All Food

Dacy Knight
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Christian Vierig/Getty

Have you been experiencing bloating, fatigue, daily headaches, or foggy thinking? These are symptoms of inflammation, and your diet—but also your stress levels and environment—may be to blame. "Inflammation is not inherently bad; in fact, inflammation is the body's natural defense against threat," double board-certified MD and holistic health expert Amy Shah tells Mindbodygreen. "Chronic inflammation, however, ignites when too many pro-inflammatory catalysts have built up and the body feels it needs to stay in defense mode all the time." To avoid these undesirable symptoms, Shah outlined the biggest sources of inflammation—and to much surprise, most of them aren't food.

Omega-6 oils: While omega fatty acids are necessary for brain, skin, and bone health, we want a healthy ratio high in omega-3s and low in omega-6s. Vegetable oils, trans fats, processed foods, grain-fed meat, and dairy all contain omega-6s that increase inflammation. Swap out your vegetable and canola cooking oils for coconut, grapeseed, or avocado oil.

Stress: Mental stress and body stress can trigger the body's inflammatory process. "This is because cortisol—the major stress hormone—influences the regulation of inflammation," Shah says. She recommends making time in your schedule for moments of stillness and calm. As for physical stress, "pushing the body past its limits at the gym or sacrificing sleep induces inflammation." Be sure to take rest days, and try to get a full night's sleep as often as possible to recharge.

Environmental toxins: Everything from the air, water, food, and even beauty products can disrupt our hormones and other neurological and immunological aspects of our being. Remove harmful plastic bottles and containers from your life, and commit to using natural beauty, bath, and cleaning products.

Next up, head here to discover nine foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory.

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