Chronic Inflammation and How to Avoid It

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Inflammation occurs when your body attempts to fight against potential threats. This process is similar to the way your body responds to an infection or virus with a fever. 

It is a sign that your body is attempting to heal itself. 

For example, when your body is injured or suffering from an infection, the body sends inflammatory cells to aid in healing. In the event of an injury or infection, inflammation can be unavoidable and it is typically short-lived. 

However, chronic inflammation is becoming increasingly common and may last for months or even years. 

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Our increasingly unhealthy lifestyles are only adding to this issue. When your body is trying to “heal” itself from something, it needs you to do your part by giving it the tools necessary to allow it to do its job. Without the necessary tools, your body will become stressed and overworked. If your body feels that it’s incapable of doing its job properly, it will react by triggering even more inflammation. 

Chronic inflammation may cause the body to eventually begin attacking healthy tissues, cells and organs. This can lead to unfavorable symptoms and even disease. 

Cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and asthma have all been linked to chronic inflammation.

Things that can cause inflammation within the body include:

  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Long-term chemical exposures
  • Air pollution
  • Autoimmune disorders that cause our body to mistakenly attack healthy tissue
  • Poor diet
  • Unhealthy lifestyle

Signs of chronic inflammation include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Swelling
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • And more

Commonly, chronic inflammation is treated and managed with both prescription and over-the-counter medications. In the case of some autoimmune disorders, this may or may not be necessary. 

However, especially in cases of chronic inflammation caused by lifestyle factors, there are many natural methods that may help to reduce or eliminate inflammation within the body. 

Read on for five of the most effective natural methods for reducing chronic inflammation.

Eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet.

Research has shown that the foods we eat may affect the levels of CRP (or C-reactive protein) in our blood. CRP is a marker for inflammation within the body. Some foods, like those with lots of processed sugar or unhealthy fats, trigger your body to release those inflammatory cells even when they’re not needed. If you’re consistently eating these foods, this can absolutely increase your chances of dealing with chronic inflammation.

Avoid processed foods, unhealthy fats (eg: trans fats, saturated fats), red meat, and sugary foods and drinks.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods.

Free radicals, which can cause disease, are naturally occurring within the body. They can also form from x-rays, ozone, smoking, air pollutants, etcetera. Antioxidants help to manage these free radicals. However, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants can cause “oxidative stress” which can trigger inflammation. In order to avoid this oxidative stress, it’s important to eat anti-inflammatory foods. 

The following are examples of foods that are high in antioxidants and considered anti-inflammatory:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Prunes
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Red Cabbage
  • Raspberries
  • Pecans

Get more exercise.

Studies have shown that exercising causes your body to release a protein called IL-6 (or Interleukin 6) which may play an important part in reducing inflammation. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) of physical activity per week for optimal health. 

Reduce stress and manage anxiety. 

Stress and anxiety may cause the rise of a hormone called “cortisol” in the body. Among other things, cortisol regulates immune system responses. Too-high levels of cortisol within the body can cause the immune system to trigger an inflammatory response. 

In turn, long-term stress and/or prolonged anxiety may cause unnecessary inflammation within the body. 

Lose weight.

Many conditions caused by being overweight or obese are linked to chronic inflammation. The following conditions associated with excess weight may cause inflammation within the body:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Atherosclerosis (build-up of fat and cholesterol within the arteries)
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Increased infection risk

Conditions caused by being overweight or obese are only made worse by the inflammation that they may give rise to. Losing excess body weight is one the best things you can do to fight chronic inflammation.

If you believe that you may be dealing with inflammation, the above steps are a great place to start. By ensuring that you are feeding your body the proper foods, reducing stress, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight, you will be giving your body a fighting chance against chronic inflammation. 

*The above information is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor for any health-related issues or concerns.