by LaShun Foster, M.Ed.
Several years ago I was having constant muscle aches, joint pain, joint stiffness, shortness of breath and low grade fevers. I went from doctor to doctor seeking an answer to pinpoint why I was having these symptoms. I was finally told that I had chronic inflammation. My first thought: “What in the world is chronic inflammation? What are the symptoms?” I was surprised to learn that chronic inflammation is connected to a host of modern diseases, from obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, to Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, cancer, Parkinson’s and even depression! Chronic Inflammation is “hidden” inflammation that occurs throughout the body when something jump-starts the immune system; but the immune system never receives a signal to turn itself off – thus leading to chronic inflammation. Triggers for chronic inflammation can vary from person to person; repeated or prolonged infections, smoking, or exposure to toxins are only a few examples. Obesity makes you prone to inflammation, as fat cells create inflammatory proteins called cytokines leading to chronic inflammation which turns into a host of related diseases. Sadly, most people don’t know that their body is on fire with chronic inflammation until a disease shows up and a diagnosis is confirmed. Unfortunately, there is no one blood test designed yet to measure chronic inflammation or to indicate whether you are at risk to develop chronic inflammation. The best solution is to practice a preventative healthy lifestyle that may help you reduce your chances of developing chronic inflammation.
Are you inflamed?
Here is a list of symptoms commonly associated with low-grade chronic inflammation.
body aches and pains congestion frequent infections diarrhea dry eyes indigestion shortness of breath skin outbreak swelling stiffness weight gain/obesity
Five things you can do right now to reduce inflammation
It’s sad to say that we are living in a toxic world, where fuel for inflammation is present at every turn. We’re exposed to toxins like lead and mercury in our environment; processed foods are replacing many of the natural anti-inflammatory foods in our diets; and stress or lack of sleep are everyday events for many of us. BUT, there are many things you can do to reduce inflammation naturally. Here are five simple steps you can take right away:
· Revise your diet. Start by limiting or cutting out your intake of trans fats and processed food. Replace these with healthy fats, such as omega-3’s and olive oil, and unrefined carbohydrates, like antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
· Add omega-3’s. There is an extensive and growing body of evidence that omega-3’s can reduce inflammation. In our modern diets, we consume an overwhelming amount of omega-6’s in proportion to omega-3’s. This imbalance can be a cause of inflammatory health issues.
· Get a good night’s sleep! Between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep can do wonders to repair and restore your system. Though many scientists are still debating why we sleep, we know that a good night’s sleep is one of the best anti-inflammatory techniques. So make getting to bed on time a priority!
· Supplement with a high-quality multivitamin/mineral. Folic acid, B vitamins, and vitamins D, C, and E all have anti-inflammatory effects in your body. For a strong anti-inflammatory base, take a high-quality daily multivitamin.
· Rebalance your immune system with probiotics. The beneficial flora (probiotics) in your body work hard to protect and rebalance your immune system. You can help them help you by eating more naturally fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchee, as well as plentiful fiber.
Top 10 Foods That May Trigger Chronic Inflammation Refined Sugar Vegetable Oils: Canola, Palm (High in Omega 6 Fatty Acids) Instead replace with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grape seed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil Transfats also known as Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (found in Deep Fried Foods, Processed/Commercial Packaged Foods) Dairy (contain small amounts of transfat naturally) Feedlot Raised Meat (fed hormones, antibiotics, corn, soybeans which are high in omega 6 Fatty acids (Aim to eat meat that is Organic Free-Range/Grass Fed) Processed Meat (Hot dogs, bacon, sausage, packaged meat products) -Aim to eat Organic or minimally processed Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Liquor Refined Grains Artificial Food Additives (MSG etc) Foods that you are allergic to (Food Allergies/Sensitivities will vary from person to person but some food allergens include: Gluten, Eggs, Shellfish, Nuts, Milk and Dairy Products)
Photo credit: elcivics.com