Inflammation is a hot topic at the moment. Books and articles on the subject are everywhere at the moment, telling you that you must do A, B, and C in order to bring down the inflammation in your body.
Here at Flourish, our aim is to give you the best possible evidence-based information so that you can live your best life. That’s why I’m devoting the next few months to exploring the topic of inflammation in depth.
We will cover how inflammation affects almost every area of your body – from your gut health, to your mental state, to your blood sugar, to overt autoimmune disease.
And more importantly, we will give you tools that you can implement right now to reduce your inflammatory load, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and even reverse some of the damage that inflammation has done to your body.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. It is part of your first line of defence – your innate immune system.
The signs of inflammation are redness, heat, swelling and pain. We have all experienced inflammation first hand as a child with a scraped knee.
The role of inflammation is to bring blood, fluid, and specialised cells and chemicals to the area in order to deal with the issue, keep it contained, prevent infection, and activate healing
In other words, we need inflammation to survive!
So what’s the problem then?
The problem is that the above picture only pertains to acute inflammation, which should last about 8-10 days.
Chronic inflammation is a whole different story, and can contribute to major health problems.
Inflammation and Disease
New research is telling us that inflammation contributes to many common, chronic health conditions.
- Allergies - eg: hayfever)
- Autoimmune conditions – eg: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Coeliac Disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, MS, Lupus
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Early signs of aging - eg: cataracts, wrinkles
- Heart and Vascular Conditions - eg: hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease
- Joint Conditions – eg: osteoarthritis, tendonitis, strains and sprains
- Neurodegenerative conditions- eg: Alzheimer’s
- Skin conditions- eg: eczema, psoriasis
- Ulcerative colitis, Crohns disease, and other inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions
What can I do about it?
The good news is that the inflammatory cells and compounds react to their environment- which is influenced by your diet and environment.
This means you have some control over your body’s inflammatory load!
3 Steps to Reducing Inflammation
Step 1 - Investigate your dinner plate
The foods you eat have a massive effect on your body’s inflammatory load. We want your body to be able to react to injury and illness, and to effectively use inflammation to get you better, fast. We do not want your body constantly having to produce and then mop up inflammation every time you have a meal!
The basic rule of thumb for reducing inflammation is to eat more plants! More specifically, to eat a wide range of dark and brightly coloured plants, every day. Ideally, half your plate of every meal and snack should be plants.
Want more details? Stay tuned for my next article on the Top 3 Best and Worst Foods for Inflammation.
Step 2 – Move your body
For many years, we have known that physical activity helps to lower the risk of several chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
We now believe that one of the reasons for this is that regular exercise helps to reduce inflammation in the body.
Our bodies are meant to move, and movement is meant to be joyful! So don’t just slug it out at the gym if you hate it. Find some way to bring activity into your life that you find fun. Ask yourself what kind of activity do you always enjoy? An early morning beach walk with a friend? A yoga or pilates class? How about dance or zumba? Bike riding? Or do you love the exhilaration of a sweaty gym session? There is no right answer, but I bet there is something that you like to do – so get out and do it!
Step 3 – Stress Less
I know, I know, people are always telling you that stress is bad for your health. Well that’s because it is.
While we can’t obliterate stress from our lives completely, we can learn skills that help us manage it better. Regular yoga, especially restorative and gentle forms like yin yoga, can really help to reduce stress and bring down inflammation
Simple strategies, such as belly breathing, can also go a long way to reduce your stress levels and therefore your inflammatory load. Try taking 10 deep belly breaths, two times daily. This takes only 30 seconds each time, and sends a chemical message to your body that you are safe, thus reducing the physiological stress cascade.
So there you have it – the first few tips to reducing the chronic inflammation in your life. Stay tuned for more upcoming articles on other ways that inflammation affects your health, and what you can do about it.
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Want to do something more about it now? Concerned about an inflammatory condition that is affecting your life? Book now for a one-on-one session with me to get to the root of your issues, and to guide you back to optimal health so that you can live your best life.