Chronic inflammation is at the root of all disease. You may remember learning about inflammation in school and we have all experienced inflammation in our life. While our bodies are well equipped for acute inflammation, it is chronic inflammation that is most concerning.
We are all familiar with redness, swelling or pain from a cut or bruise. It is our bodies response to injury and is crucial for survival. However, when that threat to our bodies is constant (i.e., stress, food sensitivities/allergies, leaky gut, toxic burden and chemical exposure), it causes our immune system to be on overdrive. This becomes problematic and pretty serious. Overtime it puts us at risk for many chronic conditions including:
- Heart Disease
- Digestive Problems
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Cellular Damage
- Most Cancers
- Autoimmune Disease (Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis)
- Periodontal disease
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease
While you might not suffer from aches and pains, necessarily, you may still be experiencing chronic inflammation. Some other symptoms of Inflammation are:
- Mouth Sores
- Joint pain
- Abdominal Pain
Your Diet and Lifestyle play a large role in your bodies ability to reduce inflammation. Understanding the root cause of your inflammation can help you to heal and reduce risk of disease. Instead of just popping a pill to reduce inflammation, here are some tips to reduce overall inflammation:
- Eat a balanced, whole food diet with minimally processed foods. Include whole grains, lots of colorful veggies, fruits, healthy fats and good quality protein. Avoid processed foods and choose foods in their most natural state. Real labels to avoid chemicals, preservatives and dyes. Processed foods loaded with sugar and trans fat can contribute to inflammation, while diets rich in plants, fiber and color can reduce it. Instead of overcomplicating the food system, get Back to the Basics.
- Balance your Omega’s. The average American is lacking in Omega 3 fats, but not lacking so much in Omega 6 fats. Omega 3 fats are primarily found in cold water fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout and also ground flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts. Omega 6 fats include anything from raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans and organic eggs to processed oils like corn, canola and soybean oil. While both fats are important, it is all about balance and quality. The goal is to have a ratio of Omega 6: Omega 3 at a 2-4:1 ratio. The Standard American Diet (yes, SAD) is typically at a 30-35:1 ratio! Omega 6 fats are the primary source of fat we consume, especially with processed foods on the rise. But when we are consuming too many Omega 6 fats without omega 3 fats, that can lead to inflammation. To balance things out, we need more Omega 3’s. Generally speaking, taking a good quality Fish oil like Integrative Therapeutics Omega HP, Nordic Naturals Pro Omega CRP or Designs for Health OmegAvail should be safe for most in dosages of about 500-100 mg per day. Be sure that the DHA and EPA on the bottle make up the majority of the omega-3’s. Higher dosages may be recommended in other specific cases, however, speak with a health professional before taking higher amounts.
- Take Time to Relax. We live in a fast-paced world, never leaving time to take care of ourselves and just breathe. Stress can be very damaging to our bodies especially when chronic. Just like inflammation, our bodes are well equipped for acute stress. When we are faced with a threat or danger, the bodies natural response is to release cortisol and adrenaline which prepares the body for fight or flight by pumping our blood and increasing our heart rate, blood pressure and shutting off our digestion to allow fat and carbs to be used readily as energy to get away from the perceived stressor/threat. Once the threat is over, the stress response subsides. However, in today’s world, we are faced with chronic stressors like work, finances, family, or perhaps our health that cause this stress response to be consistently triggered. While stress may not be going away anytime soon, we must learn to manage and take time to relax and just breathe.
- Move your Body. An object that is set in motion stays in motion, right? This is a key component to helping reduce inflammation as exercise helps to release a flood of anti-inflammatory chemicals and increase blood flow and oxygen throughout the body. Whether you are walking, running, stretching, playing a sport or doing yoga, moving your body is a great way to help reduce the inflammatory response. But be cautious, overdoing it can sometimes increase inflammation. Listen to your body, wear the right clothing and shoes to avoid injury.
- Find out if you have food sensitivities. Adverse reactions to food and food chemicals can play a role in many common illnesses including but not limited to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Headaches, Migraines, Inflammatory Arthritis, GERD and even Depression. When your body responds negatively to a food or food chemical, the immune system identifies that food and/or food substance as foreign, which in return triggers immune cells to attack. Powerful chemicals such as histamine, prostaglandins and cytokines are released to destroy these invaders. Which inevitably leads to inflammation and damage occurs leading to symptoms. Removing these food and chemical sensitivities is one piece to the puzzle that can decrease chronic inflammation.
Inflammation affects us all. While we may feel healthy, inflammation could be raging inside of us without us even knowing. Taking these steps above and adapting to a clean living lifestyle, can be a key to your long-term health. If you unsure about what may be triggering your inflammation and how to reduce it, contact us today!