Inflammation in body is a known source of many health issues and a widely researched topic today. Almost all chronic illnesses from Arthritis to Diabetes have been linked to inflammation in more than one study. Modern lifestyle and diet unfortunately contribute more to the problem. Hence it becomes necessary to take special care to avoid this slow and silent killer in your body.
What is Inflammation and Why is it Bad?
Inflammation is immune system’s response to wounds, infection and foreign bodies. Acute or short-term inflammation protects us from outside invaders and is only meant to be a short-term response. Examples are fever in case of infection or pain and swelling in case of a wound.
Inflammation becomes a problem when it persists for a long time and does not subside. Your body rings the alarm for immune cells to come and intervene. The reason could be consumption of allergens, stress or toxins in the body. This leads to continuous onslaught by the immune cells on your organs, bones, tissues or nerves. This is also known as chronic inflammation and is the cause of many chronic illnesses and autoimmune conditions.
Symptoms and Consequences
There is no accurate lab test to give evidence of chronic inflammation in your body. Presence of CRP protein and other markers gives some indication of inflammation. Following symptoms may mean you have low grade or chronic inflammation in your body.
Fatigue – Constant fighting drains your body of energy and resources. Consider the possibility of underlying inflammation if you feel fatigued even after good amount of rest and proper nutrition.
Gut Problems – Almost 80% of your immune cells reside in your gut. So any imbalance in immune system first shows symptoms in the gut. Bloating, indigestion, constipation, abdominal pain, loss of appetite or IBS may mean internal inflammation in your gut.
Depression & Anxiety – Inflammation interferes with neurotransmitter functions. Brain inflammation also affects mood and mental health.
Inflammation is an internal war that your immune system wages against healthy tissues, organs and glands. This manifests into various diseases depending on the area attacked in your body.
For example, inflammation in joints wears away joint cartilage and synovial fluid to cause arthritis. Inflammation of pancreas hinders the organ’s ability to produce insulin causing diabetes. Higher blood sugar level due to diabetes causes further inflammation in the body and is the start of myriad set of health problems.
Research is pointing to chronic inflammation as the cause of even more illnesses every day. Let us look at steps you can take to keep your body healthy and free from inflammation.
How to Avoid Inflammation
Inflammation can be caused by food allergens, chronic stress, pollutants, toxins or persistant infections. Anti-inflammatory drugs and immuno-suppressants do not treat the underlying cause of inflammation. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle and diet is necessary to bring the body to its natural state. Here are the essentials of the anti-inflammatory lifestyle that you must follow to avoid inflammation.
Avoid Inflammatory Food
This is a no-brainer as 80% of your immune cells reside in your gut. Inflammatory food triggers immune response that affects your whole body starting from the gut. Repeated intake of allergens will eventually lead to chronic inflammation where arresting your immune system’s response becomes very difficult.
The bad news is that the diet of majority of population is literally based on inflammatory foods. It’s like we are eating exactly what we should be avoiding. Here are the worst inflammatory foods:
- Refined wheat
- Vegetable Oil
- Processed Meat
- Fast Food
How much of each do you consume daily? Chances are that your daily diet is filled with most of these. Cutting out all these may seem difficult at first. But this is only out of habit that it seems challenging.
There are plenty of options and recipes that are anti-inflammatory and tasty too. The key is to cut out these harmful foods and replace with plenty of fruits and vegetables. You can also find replacements for food items. For example, coconut milk can replace milk in most recipes. Wheat flour can be replaced by banana, tapioca or buckwheat flour.
Avoiding inflammatory food is great. But, it is also essential to get the right nutrition to keep inflammation at bay. Foods rich in anti-oxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and polyphenols reduce risk of inflammation by blocking immune response in the body.
Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts in your diet. Berries, leafy vegetables and fatty fish are particularly good to fight inflammation.
Physical, emotional and psychological stress is trigger for inflammation in the body. Cortisol and adrenalin are essential to manage stress in your body. However, continuous exposure to stress can throw your adrenal system off balance and lead to chronic inflammation.
Avoiding stress in today’s world is easier said than done, but it is possible. Yoga, meditation, time with loved ones and vacations help to manage stress. Giving your body time to rejuvenate and heal is the best decision you can take for your body.
Take Herbal supplements
Herbs have been used in ancient medicinal practices like Ayurveda to fight off inflammation and stress symptoms. Modern science has also proved the anti-inflammatory effect of herbs like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon etc. These herbal supplements work in many ways to keep your immune and stress alarms in check.
Inflammation is the root cause of most of the chronic illnesses. It is usually a result of poor diet, stress, toxins or internal infection in the body. Avoiding inflammatory food, managing stress and supplementing herbs in your diet can keep you free from inflammation and its painful consequences.
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