We have all experienced some sort of inflammation at one time or another in our life. It could have been from rolling your ankle to spraining your wrist. This is known as acute inflammation and is a very natural and healthy process for the body to go through. But, did you know that there is another type of inflammation within our body? It is known as chronic inflammation and is not healthy for our body. I want to share with you a little more about inflammation, the good and the bad, and what we can do to help our body’s eliminate the bad!
Like I just mentioned, we get inflammation in our body after a sprain or strain and that is a good thing. It is actually a great thing, as it is essential in healing and tissue repair. After an injury the body sends white blood cells and inflammatory cytokines to the site of injury to help repair the damage and fight off an invader. This then results in the area becoming hot and inflamed feeling. This is a biological response and is self-regulating- which means it turns off when it is no longer needed.
The problem is that when this response continues, even when there is no injury or invader to face. This is what is known as chronic inflammation and it can eventually result in tissue and cell damage. And when this occurs it can be linked to many different disease processes. Some known issues with individuals with chronic inflammation include: asthma, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, cancer, dementia, migraines, colitis, diabetes and depression.
But why would the body go into a chronic inflammatory state? There is no clinically-proven reason but there are many potential reasons, from the body over responding a left over invader to being in a chronic stress response (link to last weeks blog post). It has also been suggested that excess adipose, or fatty, tissue may generate inflammatory cells leading to low-grade inflammation. And beyond stress, there has been a link to the feeling of loneliness and increased inflammation and also those that are less conscientious may have a higher risk of chronic inflammation.
So what can we do to stop this inflammation? The medical route is to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), but it may be possible to relieve chronic stress with life style changes. Some natural option include:
· Exercise is a great way of moving inflammation from the body. Make time for both cardio and weight/resistance training multiple times a week! -The more you move the better your breathe and increased oxygen to your cells will help your body function better and decrease inflammation.
· Remove certain foods that have been linked with chronic inflammation. They include dairy, processed or refined sugars, refined grains, vegetable oils, trans fats, nightshades (potatoes, peppers), red meats, egg yolks, soft drinks, alcohol, high fructose corn syrup and chemical food additives. -If you feel that you have a inflammatory response after eating, it may be beneficial to do an Elimination diet. An elimination diet is when you take a few things out of your diet and see how you feel. After you feel like your body is functioning optimally, you gradually add one thing back in at a time and see if you have an inflammatory response or if your body processes it well. This is a great way of pinpointing specific foods that are effecting you.
· Add in anti-inflammatory foods. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold water fish, walnuts, flax seeds, along with other foods like green leafy veggies, and fresh fruit- specifically blueberries, cherries and oranges, are great things to add into your diet!
Supplements may also be very beneficial in reducing chronic inflammation- specifically vitamin D
· Mood- being intentional with your time and energy may also help reduce your chronic inflammation. A study suggested that being open to new experiences led to lower levels of inflammation so your personality traits may indeed have an effect on your inflammation.
Know that you do not need to continue feeling like this. There are always changes that can be made to help your body not only feel better but function better! And that is what I want for all of you! I want you to be able to live life infinitely! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below and I would be happy to serve you as we find what is resulting in your chronic inflammatory state!