Many people think of inflammation as being skin redness, joint swelling after exercise, or even a pimple. And it is. But there’s a different kind of inflammation that is more insidious. This is chronic inflammation, or systemic inflammation. It’s a slow, silent attack on your body and health that never switches off. And worse, it’s the underlying cause of many serious chronic diseases in our lives. Luckily there are simple changes you can easily make to reduce the chronic inflammation in your cells.
You actually need some degree of inflammation in your body to stay healthy. However it’s more and more common for the inflammatory response to get out of hand.
Inflammation serves an important purpose but when it continues indefinitely it can become dangerous. You know your immune system is stuck in “high alert” when inflammation doesn’t recede. And this is where chronic disease develops.
Effects of Chronic Inflammation
Most of the common chronic illnesses today are thought to develop when the body is in a state of chronic (or systemic) inflammation. Osteoarthritis, autoimmune diseases, allergies, asthma, IBS, heart disease and even cancer are just some indicators of chronic inflammation.
Many things in life both contribute to and maintain chronic inflammation. Excess weight, lack of exercise, poor diet, excess alcohol, poor oral health and ongoing stress are just some factors that lead to it. Others such as pollution and toxins in our environment can also contribute.
Stress And Chronic Inflammation
For many people stress can be the major problem. Cortisol is an important part of your body’s stress response to perceived threats. So levels of the hormone cortisol rise in response to any stressful situation. However, when stress of any type is ongoing the cortisol release mechanism doesn’t turn off. This results in persistent low grade inflammation. In some cases it can go on forever.
The first step to turn off the chronic inflammation response is to change your lifestyle. Simply switch to an anti-inflammatory diet for a significant impact.
Conditions Caused By Chronic Inflammation
- Heart disease – stroke, hypertension
- Lung issues – asthma, hay fever, COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, breathing difficulties
- Bone and joint disease – all forms of arthritis, osteoporosis
- Depression – including feeling down, sleep problems, appetite loss
- Anger disorders, aggressive behaviour
- Autoimmune – Crohn’s, Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, colitis, IBD,
- Neurological disorders – Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, Multiple Schlerosis,
Common Causes Of Inflammation
Stacking on the kilos causes fat cells to grow. This leads to immune system distress and results in an inflammatory response within the fat cells. Over time these cells become insulin-resistant which can lead to diabetes.
Whether it’s a terrible job, unhappy marriage, sick parents, overfull diary or worry about your kids makes you anxious, they’re all chronic stressors. And chronic stress causes unchecked chronic inflammation.
Poor Air Quality
Chronic inflammation is one result of smog or any other form of pollution. Tobacco smoke is probably the worst form of air pollution.
The gut is integral to your immune system. Seventy percent of it is seated within the gut. Therefore bacteria balance is crucial to the regulation of inflammation. Beneficial bacteria suppress inflammation and harmful bacteria activate it. Boost the beneficial bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Certain foods contain inulin, a prebiotic which feeds beneficial gut bacteria and keeps your gut healthy. These include onions, raw asparagus, raw dandelion greens, raw banana, yoghurt, sour cream, and raw leeks.
Gut inflammation can initiate diseases like Crohn’s or rheumatoid arthritis.
That relaxing evening drink might reduce your stress initially. But it also releases inflammatory toxic by-products as it breaks down.
Contraceptives and Hormone Treatment
Oral contraceptives cause low-grade inflammation. Research shows women taking the pill show high levels of inflammation markers.
High-sugar, high-carb and high-fat diets are your enemy. They all contribute to inflammation, but excess sugar is particularly dangerous. High GI foods cause a sudden dump of sugar into your bloodstream which triggers the inflammatory response.
Lowering stress is the key to reducing inflammation, whatever the cause. When stress is caused by anxiety or depression simple practices such as deep breathing can help reduce it.
Homeopathic remedies, flower essences and some herbs are natural alternatives to pharmaceutical medications to manage the effects of stress. Speak to your natural health practitioner about the best remedy for you.
Foods For Inflammation
Mediterranean style diets are anti-inflammatory. They include more fish, fresh vegetables and fruit, healthy fats, and moderate amounts of nuts. These types of diets include very small quantities of red meat and dairy foods. Plus they also reduce alcohol apart from moderate amounts of red wine. However, purple coloured foods like grapes are the perfect replacement for red wine as they don’t include the inflammatory alcohol.
A vital component of these diets is omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 inhibits the enzyme that produces inflammation triggering prostaglandins. Plus, they’re awesome for your heart and entire cardiovascular system as well as your nervous system.
Some of the best sources of omega-3 are cold water fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel. Eat about 300-350 grams two to three times a week.
- Fruits and vegetables are chock-full of antioxidants to reduce free radicals and fight inflammation. Each different colour of produce contains different antioxidants. So eat a full rainbow of fruit and vegetables to get the full range.
- Avocados are a marvellous anti-inflammatory food. They’re loaded with many awesome compounds. Omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoid antioxidants help reduce inflammation.
- Cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane which reduces chronic inflammation linked to joint deterioration. They include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage plus others.
- Watermelon contains lycopene to neutralize free radicals ad inhibit the inflammatory process.
- Nuts, especially walnuts, are an excellent source of omega-3 to reduce inflammation. Extra-virgin olive oil is another.
- Onions contain quercetin which inhibits histamines that cause inflammation
- Coconut oil is anti-inflammatory and has many other health benefits
- Berries are rich in antioxidants particularly anthcyanins which produce their dark red colour
- Wholegrains like brown rice and quinoa contain high levels of fibre to feed beneficial gut bacteriato reduce inflammation.
- Chia seeds contain lots of omega-3 as well as fibre and protein.
There are many more anti-inflammatory foods including pineapple, spinach, raw oats, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, beetroot, green tea and dark chocolate.
Spices To Reduce Inflammation
Turmeric, ginger, rosemary, oregano, cloves, nutmeg and cayenne pepper contain anti-inflammatory compounds. Turmeric is particularly effective to reduce inflammation.
Exercise reduces inflammation, provided you get enough. In so doing it also lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease. About 45 minutes of moderate exercise most days should be enough. As fat cells shrink with regular exercise your immune system calms down and inflammation reduces.
However, too much exercise has the opposite effect, causing stress and inflammation in the body. So it’s vital to keep a happy balance.
Turmeric contains curcumin which provides the glorious golden colour of turmeric. An extremely potent natural anti-inflammatory, it’s very effective at shutting down the activation of inflammatory pathways. As well as easing inflammation and associated pain in back, joints and arthritis it also helps prevent cognitive decline.
Reduce chronic inflammation in your body today
to help keep serious chronic disease at bay.
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All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only. They are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation with your health care provider. Do not use this article to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think your condition may be serious or before discontinuing any prescribed medication. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.