Inflammation is the immune system’s response to aggressors, pathogens, injuries and infections. Acute inflammation, such as the kind that’s caused by burns or bug bites, broken bones, or pulled muscles is necessary as it helps to promote healing by delivering white blood cells to the affected area. Without an inflammatory response our entire immune system would be greatly compromised. While inflammation is necessary, it can also be negative when it’s chronic. Chronic inflammation causes for the body to breakdown and can often result in diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and many more. What causes chronic inflammation? Certain infectious agents do, such as certain bacteria, and Hepatitis C causes chronic inflammation of the liver which can lead to liver cancer. While the doctor can run blood tests to determine presence of inflammation, we urge to you to take preventative measures too to reduce the heat and ward off chronic inflammation for life.
Avoid foods that cause inflammation. Hydrogenated fats cause inflammation, therefore avoid processed and pre-packaged food when possible and read your labels to ensure that the food you’re eating doesn’t contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Skip the sugary foods too, because sugar is quickly processed by the body which causes a spike in insulin levels. Same goes for refined grains such as white rice and white flour, which are as easily processed as sugar. Whenever sugar increases insulin levels our bodies are prompted to store fats, which can lead to weight gain and in the long run, obesity. Some foods may be low in calories (such as rice cakes) but high in sugar content- therefore they increase insulin levels, which cause the fats to store, and result in excess weight gain; someone eating a low-calorie diet and still gaining weight may be perplexed by this occurrence unless they realize that foods easily converted into sugar are fattening.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods, spices and herbs. Many foods contain nutrients that counteract inflammation. eFish, olive oil, whole grains, and nuts contain omega-3, 6, and 9 to reduce inflammation. Herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, oregano, rosemary, basil, dill, and thyme contain antioxidants, and compounds that stabilize blood-sugar levels. Eat a cup of yogurt or drink a cup of kefir daily, which contain healthful probiotics that work to keep the digestive system healthy while warding off pathogens and ‘bad’ bacteria.
Lose excess weight. Overweight people have a high level of C-reactive protein, which causes inflammation. Therefore, exercise to reduce inflammation and to lose weight. Exercise helps the body to produce dopamine and endorphins, so we not only look better when we work out, we feel better too.
Reduce stress. Stress and inflammation are closely related. Stress activates cortisol secretion, and cortisol a.k.a the ‘stress hormone’ causes inflammation. While cortisol serves a very important function in our fight-or-flight response, it can also be disruptive when we experience chronic stress. Chronic stress results in excess cortisol that with time can ‘forget’ to shut off, in turn producing further inflammation and resulting in immune system break-down. Find ways to relax through yoga, meditation, relaxing music, massage, napping, journaling, or breathing exercises.
Keep your mouth clean. The American Academy of Periodontology has linked gum disease to heart disease, as the bacteria produced by gum disease is harmful when it enters the blood stream and can build plaque deposits in blood vessels. Plaque build up can result in inflammation which contributes to swelling of the arteries. Take care of your teeth and gums with regular dental cleanings, take the time to brush your teeth thoroughly, and always floss.
Take precaution to ward of inflammation to lead a healthy life full of vigor and longevity.