What Is Inflammation?
Acute inflammation is your body’s natural and helpful immune response to tissue damage. When you fall off your bike, the cut swells reddens and feels inflamed. These are all signs that your immune system is busy at work sending white blood cells to the site of your injury to repair the tissue. In this situation, inflammation is your friend—you couldn’t live without it.
However, Chronic inflammation is your body’s confused and damaging immune response to a barrage of environmental, physical, and mental invaders, which come in the form of things like poor diet, toxic chemicals, and stress.
It’s a silent (yet violent) kind of inflammation that can take place without you even knowing it. What you eat, and think (stress!), environmental toxins, smoking, drinking and even a lazy or over hectic lifestyle can create a fiery cascade of inflammation in your body. When your body hits an inflammatory overload, your defense system gets so overwhelmed and confused that it literally doesn’t know the difference between the invader and you. As a result, your well-meaning immune system turns on itself, destroying healthy cells, tissue, and everything else in its wake.
Some Causes of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is triggered by numerous factors, but most of them are within your control and can be avoided or replaced. Take a look at this list. If you recognise any of these symptoms that you really need to change your lifestyle.
- Poor dietary choices: processed foods, too many animal products (factory farmed are the worst offenders), sugary drinks, trans fats, and certain unhealthy saturated fats, and excess alcohol
- Gut health issues – bloating
- Food allergies
- Chronic infections (bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites)
- Stress and exhaustion
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Acid reflux
There are countless other causes of chronic inflammation, but these are some of the big ones. These symptoms can be a risk to your long-term health.
The Results of Chronic Inflammation
Over time, chronic inflammation wears out your immune system, leading to chronic diseases and other health issues including cancer, asthma, autoimmune diseases, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s and osteoporosis.
Unfortunately, these challenges are often only treated with drugs and surgery, which may provide temporary relief from the symptoms, but do not treat the root of the problem. In addition, these drugs—and their side effects—sometimes only add to your health problems.
Could it be that many of the pills in your cabinet are just plasters and that the key to health lies in your daily diet and lifestyle choices?
Taking a holistic approach is key and looking at the way you lead your life and getting the inflammation under control is possible, but you need to make some lifestyle changes.
Making an appointment with a nutrition practitioner, mindfulness/meditation teacher or reiki healer, can help you along the way and target your unique needs.
Although this may seem overwhelming, it’s actually the opposite. The following tips will empower you and help you reduce inflammation over time. Try a few (or just one) of these suggestions to see how you feel. As always, slow and steady wins the race, or in this case, puts out the fire.
How to Reduce Chronic Inflammation
- Eat more plant-based, whole, nutrient-dense foods.
Crowd out the inflammatory foods like
Peppers, onions, citrus, tomatoes, caffeine, alcohol, processed food, red meat, fizzy drinks, refined sugars like sweets and biscuits. Add a variety of plant-based whole foods to your diet. These foods will flood your body with the vitamins, minerals, cancer-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fibre it needs to recover from chronic inflammation.
- Focus on gut health.
Your gut holds approximately 60 to 70 percent of your immune system, so it stands to reason that it would be a great place to reduce chronic inflammation. And if your gut is in bad shape, you can only imagine that your immune system is in some serious trouble. Take a good probiotic every day.
- Identify and address food allergies and chronic (or hidden) infections.
You could be fighting a losing battle if you’re ignoring potential food sensitivities and/or infections. If your body is working to cope and fight these challenges every day, you can bet that you’re stoking the fires of inflammation on a regular basis.
Gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, and yeast are common food allergens that might be distracting your immune system every time you sit down for a meal. These allergies can be identified with a blood test. Ask your doctor about testing for food allergies.
Become a symptoms detective. Only you can determine how you feel when you eat, which is where an elimination diet comes in handy. While following the elimination approach, you remove all common allergens from your diet and then slowly reintroduce them, one by one. Talk to your doctor about these options, and do some independent research.
Another possibility worth exploring is a chronic infection (bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites). Candida could be hiding out in your body and dragging your immune system down. You have a couple of options for testing, ask your doctor to do a stool sample. When your stool is analysed it will identify parasites, abnormal bacteria, yeasts, and other gastrointestinal issues, which will help you know the underlying factors in order to target the infection, ideally with the help of an integrative doctor or naturopath.
You may also want to look into Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition that can result in damage to your intestinal lining. When this occurs, bacteria, undigested food, and other toxins can literally leak into your bloodstream, triggering an autoimmune response and a host of painful inflammatory symptoms. A simple urine test can tell you.
Acid reflux is a big symptom of leaky gut and stress and can become very uncomfortable
- Relax and rest more.
Your body is hard at work repairing and restoring your cells while you sleep. Most doctors recommend 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you are not getting enough rest and sleep, you’re cheating your immune system, which means it needs to kick into high gear in an effort to keep you well and this is when the body can inflame.
Stress goes hand in hand with a lack of sleep and a laundry list of demands from daily life. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed out all the time, you’re also producing more of the hormone cortisol—inflammation’s best friend. It stands to reason that you can easily reduce chronic inflammation by focusing on stress reduction, whether it’s through more sleep, yoga, meditation, long walks, less technology, or a much needed holiday.
- Reduce toxins in your food, home, and personal care products.
Your body’s alarm system goes off when you absorb toxic chemicals and pesticides through your digestive tract and your skin. Cut down your exposure by eating organic foods whenever possible and choosing non-toxic personal care and cleaning products.
Lifestyle Studio offers a holistic approach and offers advice in holistic health through nutrition, meditation, yoga or reiki healing. Please get in touch if you feel we can help you by contacting Lifestyle Studio today.