If you have ever been stung by a yellow jacket or have had a cold, you experienced the signs of acute inflammation. The redness, swelling, increased heat, and pain let us know that our bodies are fighting for us. However, if chronic inflammation occurs inside the body, the symptoms may not be obvious. Nevertheless, chronic inflammation can be the fuel for prolonged chronic diseases.
Chronic diseases are on the rise. Arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, anxiety, cancer, depression, diabetes, hypertension, gastritis, metabolic syndrome, obesity are just a few of the hundreds of chronic illnesses. The key is to break the cycle of the “well-meaning” inflammation—which is just trying to do its job of healing the chronic disease. However, it really only continues to fuel the disease. Try following these science-validated suggestions to defeat the common denominator of most all disease—inflammation.
Adopt a well-balanced plant based diet
The typical Western diet (characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, desserts, French fries, and refined grains) increases inflammatory markers in the blood. In contrast, the regular consumption of a prudent diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and monounsaturated fats reduces inflammation.
Be sure to get sufficient omega-3
The fatty acids protect from free radical damage and inflammation and afford some brain cell protection even in the aged, damaged, and AD brain. Long-term fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are found in cold water fish. Algae also provide DHA which is the omega-3 fat especially important for brain health. Unfortunately, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are among the common toxins in seafood and hang around for years. Since the food chain concentrates these and other pollutants in a process known as biomagnification, we cannot recommend fish as food. The higher the fish is on the food chain, the greater the accumulation of toxins in their fatty tissues. However, flaxseed, walnuts, and spinach provide the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Under normal conditions, this can be converted into EPA and then DHA inside the body.
Please note: Certain factors, such as high intakes of saturated or trans fatty acids, insufficient calorie energy or protein intake, elevated cholesterol, alcohol, and zinc deficiency can interfere with this conversion process. There may also be conversion problems for individuals consuming a vegetarian diet and are obese, or have metabolic syndrome, or another metabolic disorder. These individuals might be benefited by a DHA supplement derived from algae. As with any supplement, discuss with your pharmacist before taking it lest there be an interaction between the medicines you are using.
Drastically reduce soft and sweetened drinks
The average American drinks 216 liters of soft drinks annually. Low to moderate consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, blood glucose levels, and an inflammatory marker (hsCRP) in healthy young men in just three weeks.
Eat colorful fruits: Enjoy red grapes, berries, and cherries
These fruits are loaded with anti-inflammatory phytochemiclas. Flavonoids found in blueberries and cranberries protect our small blood vessels from inflammatory assaults and improve mental performance by increasing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity within the brain. Strawberries significantly reduce the natural rise of inflammation that occurs after a high fat meal and improves the body’s ability to respond to insulin.
Eat a green vegetable and celery daily
Chlorophyll and magnesium in these foods combat inflammation. Want a great anti-inflammatory vegetable with pain-reducing properties? Eat celery. Medical botanist James Duke points out that celery contains two dozen analgesic compounds and more than two dozen anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Don’t like raw celery? Use it liberally in soups, legume dishes, and entrées. A veggie cocktail of half carrot juice and half celery is excellent.
Lose weight if obese
Low-muscle mass combined with high body fat triggers inflammatory problems. Fat cells are actually endocrine cells that make an arsenal of chemicals, many of which, if produced in excess, promote inflammation. The good news is that steady, gradual weight loss helps to reduce inflammation even before ideal weight is achieved.
Be sure your vitamin D level is normal
As many as 50% of North Americans and Western Europeans are either deficient or have insufficient levels of vitamin D hormone, calcitriol. This is dangerous because this hormone combats inflammation and free radical damage. It also fights cancer. Sunscreen blocks vitamin D production in skin when it is exposed to the sunlight.
Get adequate, good quality sleep
Even reducing a normal sleep time of eight hours by 25% encourages inflammation. Deficient sleep increases inflammation. Losing sleep for even part of one night can trigger one of the major cellular pathways that produces tissue-damaging inflammation which could contribute to autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing at least three inflammatory markers involved in atherosclerosis.
Engage in daily moderate exercise
Moderate exercise thickens the adrenal gland cortices which produce the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol. This valuable hormone tightens up the cell membranes making them more resistant to inflammatory compounds. Resistant training reduces inflammation in obese, post menopausal women. Regular, moderate exercise also increases anti-inflammatory compounds in the elderly.
Control for chronic disease
Keep blood sugar and blood pressure within normal ranges. Uncontrolled chronic disease generates more free radical damage and inflammation. Work with your doctor to reduce this damage.
Develop sound mental health
Depression and chronic anxiety promote inflammation. By cultivating an attitude of gratitude, replacing distorted thought patterns with healthy thoughts and by accepting our limitations that we can not change, we reduce our stress.
Aeberli I, Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr.2011 Aug;94(2):479-85.
Duke, James, The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods, Rodale Books, 1008, p. 88-89.
Galland L, Diet and inflammation. Nutr Clin Pract. 2010 Dec;25(6):634-40.
Phillips MD, et al., Resistance training reduces subclinical inflammation in obese, postmenopausal women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Nov;44(11):2099-110.
Mullington JM, Sleep loss and inflammation. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab.2010 Oct;24(5):775-84.
Loss Of Sleep, Even For A Single Night, Increases Inflammation In The Body. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 16, 2013, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902075211.htm & Acute sleep deprivation increases inflammation: Research
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.