Chronic inflammation doesn’t need to be your enemy, as long as you know how to properly deal with it! In fact, not all inflammation is bad. Acute inflammation occurs when damage occurs somewhere on the body (a cut, a scrape, being hit hard, falling down, etc.) and the immune system responds by sending healing agents to that area to quickly repair whatever damage has been done (this type of inflammation feels warm, hot, and often becomes swollen..it is also gone within a couple days time).
Chronic inflammation, however, is more widespread and systemic, with the immune system being in a constant state of over-activity. In fact, chronic inflammation is an underlying factor in many diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
How to Battle Chronic Inflammation
By making slight shifts in your lifestyle, you can help make a huge difference in the amount of inflammation you experience. Here are 15 tips for chronic inflammation that you can utilize in day-to-day life:
1. Eat healthy fats
Healthy fats that contain Omega-3’s, 6’s and 9’s (think avocado, coconut, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower & chia seeds, as well as a variety of tree nuts) dramatically help lower inflammation levels. They provide strong anti-inflammatory effects and support the immune system. Stay away from trans-fatty acids! Individuals who consume trans-fatty acids have been shown to significantly increase their chances of developing cardiovascular inflammation and high cholesterol.
2. Ditch the alcohol and cigarettes
Alcohol and cigarettes are two major contributors of chronic inflammation in the body. These two substances not only make you feel horrible by polluting your body with toxins, but they encourage inflammation.
3. Steer clear of known allergens
Allergens like wheat, eggs, dairy and soy are some of the worst offenders of inflammation. These highly inflammatory foods agitate the intestinal tract and may give you symptoms such as runny nose, bloating, diarrhea, skin rashes, headaches, and will eventually manifest into more chronic inflammatory conditions such as MS, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Osteoporosis and more.
4. Eat your greens
One of the main contributing factors to chronic inflammation is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body over-reacts to an injury or disease, and starts to attack itself. Thankfully, leafy greens and other green vegetables help counteract this stress by providing the body with beneficial antioxidants and proper nutrition.
5. Reduce stress
Your response to stress is incredibly important in how well your body deals with inflammation. Breathe deep, assess the situation, and realize that this is only a perception that you have the power of changing. Simply changing your perception of stress could save your life!
6. Start doing yoga
Or other gentle daily movement practices like Qi Gong, Thai Chi, walking or swimming! In fact, yoga helps to reduce leptin levels (a hormone that stimulate inflammation) and increase adiponectin levels (an inflammation-soothing hormone). It has been found that the longer an individual practices yoga, the greater their ratio of anti-inflammatory to inflammatory hormones!
7. Engage in regular cardiovascular activity
Yoga is great for stretching out our muscles, and activating our inner light, but cardiovascular activity is also very important. Walking, light jogging, taking dance classes, or other aerobic activities will help stimulate and pump your blood, as well as lymphatic system, which are both main contributors in how well your body responds to inflammation.
8. Eat lots of berries
Just as greens provide our body with beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients to help fight off free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, berries do the same! Berries help inhibit the production of enzymes that cause irritation and pain in inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout!
9. Supplementing with Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the best anti-stress minerals out there – and you’d be surprised how many of us are devoid of this crucial mineral (thanks to poor quality soils due to improper farming methods). Without enough magnesium, our bodies increase the levels of C-reactive proteins (a primary marker of cardiovascular inflammation).
10. Sleep more
When we sleep, our body repairs itself. If you aren’t getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep every night, your DNA cannot repair as effectively as it would with a good nights rest. This will increase the levels of oxidative stress in your body, and will allow inflammation to remain in a chronic state. Many controlled, experimental studies on acute sleep loss in humans have shown that mediators of inflammation are altered by sleep loss.
11. Get regular sun exposure
Exposing your skin to the sun is important for proper vitamin D synthesis in the body. Vitamin D is involved in a variety of bodily processes, specifically regulating the inflammatory response. Researchers have found that vitamin D inhibits inflammation in a variety of molecular and signalling events in the body, helping to prevent chronic inflammatory-related diseases such as asthma, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.
12. Herbal remedies
Herbal remedies like ginger and turmeric work wonders for reducing chronic inflammation. In fact, turmeric is one of the most highly prized anti-inflammatory remedies out there. Studies have found turmeric to be more effective than 14 different drugs, a majority of which are intended for inflammatory-related pain.
13. Junk food: get rid of it
As seen above, chronic inflammation is triggered by oxidative stress. What triggers oxidative stress? Well, junk foods of course! Diets high in processed foods and refined sugars (aka. high-fructose corn syrup) are a disaster waiting to happen. They increase the amount of oxidative stress in the body, thereby triggering the inflammatory cascade.
14. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Drinking water is an important way to flush the body of toxins and stagnant energy. When adequately hydrated, there is a cushioning and nurturing effect of water on the joints (great for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis). Ample hydration also helps improve inflammatory conditions like diabetes and obesity.
15. Massage & lymphatic drainage
Massage helps your body deal with chronic inflammation by giving you a sense of ease and well being in your body. It also helps improve circulation, decreases swelling and helps break down adhered, stagnant tissues.