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What’s all the fuss about…July 17, 2019
What’s all the fuss about…July 17, 2019
Inflammation is a sign that your body is fighting something and attempting to heal itself. It is all part of a process that fixes wounds and prevents infections, but when it becomes a long-term state, inflammation is actually a big problem and plays a role in some major diseases.
Becoming aware of how inflammation works and how a balanced diet and lifestyle can moderate it is an important aspect of maintaining your health.
So, what is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a complex biological response to what the body judges to be harmful. It is a vital part of the immune system, allowing it to quickly respond to injury and infection.
The trouble comes when this inflammation process goes on for too long, or if the inflammatory response is triggered in places where it isn’t needed. This type of inflammation can be linked to certain diseases and can lead to autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
But, what is the difference between the two states?
Typically, it is easy to know if you are experiencing acute inflammation. You’ll notice it with a sprained ankle, a sort throat or even a paper cut—acute inflammation is natural, and all part of your healthy bodily functions.
It’s a short-term response, generally only effecting the local area around the problem. Signs of this type of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling and potentially pain and loss of function.
With acute inflammation, blood vessels dilate, increasing flow and causing white blood cells to be sent to the injured area. This is what make the localized area red and swollen. The damaged tissues release chemicals called cytokines, which act like emergency lights, directing immune cells, nutrients and whatever else your body requires to be sent to the problem area.
As the body heals, acute inflammation eases off.
Chronic inflammation is a different story. This type of process is as though your entire immune system was set permanently to be ‘on’. The constant disturbance can cause long term and whole-body effects. It can be triggered by your body perceiving an internal threat even when there isn’t one, signalling the immune system to send the white blood cells swarming. However, with nothing to attack, they eventually turn on internal organs or other, healthy cells.
Your body isn’t made for this kind of constant stress and internal battle and is left more susceptible to a whole host of issues. Chronic inflammation is thought to be a leading cause of disease, premature aging and illness. It can be found at the root of heart disease, asthma, arthritis, osteoporosis, acne and even depression.
How to identify it
Some ways to spot chronic inflammation include:
- Digestive issues like bloating, gas or constipation
- Chronic fatigue
- Skin issues, such as eczema and psoriasis that keep coming back
- Allergies, watery eyes and runny nose
- Puffy face/eyes
- Depression, anxiety and brain fog
- Excess weight around the midsection and waist that you can’t get rid of
How to beat it
An anti-inflammatory diet can be helpful if you feel you are suffering from low-grade inflammation. This can mean cutting out sugary foods and refined carbohydrates as well as steering clear of foods high in saturated and trans fats (red meats, dairy products etc.).
Instead focus on incorporating some inflammation fighters into your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to help reduce the white blood cell attacks. Plants are your best friend—fruits and vegetables are full of anti-inflammatory elements like magnesium, and carotenoids. Some other lifesavers are onions, garlic, spinach, broccoli, and spices like ginger and especially turmeric.
Get your body moving! As always, moderate, regular exercise is key, and really helps tone down the inflammation.
Finally, studies show that boosting your mood can have a positive effect on chronic inflammation. Lowering stress of any kind goes a long way in fighting inflammation.