Condition Spotlight: Inflammation

Cooling down chronic inflammation
By Cara Lucas

Did you know there is both good and bad inflammation? The term “inflammation” most likely brings to mind thoughts of pain, swelling, and redness in response to an acute injury or wound. But pain is not always bad: this is the body’s way of telling us something is wrong and must be addressed in order to heal.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can linger for months and even years. It can be caused by the food we eat, stress, lack of sleep, or environmental toxins. When low doses of pro-inflammatory substances continue to be released into the body for an extended period, they attack healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues instead of protecting them. It’s as if we unknowingly ingest a drop of poison each day and continue to live, work, and play with a false sense of good health.

Consider the case of an unaddressed compromised immune system: When your health shifts out of balance, inflammation takes hold and can run rampant in your body’s cells and tissues. This chronic inflammation only leads to disease. Many life-changing ailments—heart disease, dementia, cancer, obesity, and diabetes, to name a few—are caused by inflammation in the body. Many people believe that chronic inflammation can go undetected for years, wreaking havoc and maybe even killing us over time.

Inflammation ultimately causes weight gain and weight gain causes disease, so it is easy to see how one can work to reduce chronic inflammation. What makes inflammation get out of control? Simple: lifestyle and dietary choices we make on a daily basis.

So how do you start to change your body and your health? First, eliminate processed and inflammatory fats such as trans and omega-6, sugars, and refined flours. Instead follow a whole-food, high-fiber diet that is heavy on plant-based food. Get moderate amounts of lean protein and healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, and avocados, as well as omega-3 fats from small fish like sardines, herring, sable, and wild salmon.

Taking a probiotic can help restore the healthy bacteria in your gut that fight inflammation, says Mark Hyman, MD. He suggests a probiotic supplement that contains 10 billion CFU of bifidobacteria species and lactobacillus species. He also recommends a multivitamin, mineral supplement, fish oil, and vitamin D—all of which help reduce inflammation.

Last but certainly not least, incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Moderate exercise like yoga or walking is enough to make your immune cells stronger and more numerous. Another remarkable and scientifically proven fact about exercise: people who exercise prefer more healthful foods naturally. Following these simple facts can jumpstart your health and stop inflammation in its tracks.