Now more than ever before, people are paying more attention to their health and spending more time trying to improve their wellbeing. From working out more to making dietary changes, many people are already actively taking steps to improve their health. Often, diet and exercise changes are focused on transforming your outward appearance, either by losing weight or increasing muscle mass. While being a healthy weight and taking regular exercise are certainly helpful and essential for overall health, the story doesn’t end there. To truly improve your health, it is useful to delve a little deeper and look at the underlying cause of a number of common conditions. Many of these conditions are caused by inflammation, specifically, chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can potentially result in a number of issues. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many people are taking steps to reduce the levels of harmful inflammation in their bodies. The good news is that there are a number of ways to reduce inflammation in the body. By reducing inflammation, many people hope to reduce its impact on their health.
The impact of inflammation on health is a connection that has been widely spoken about in the medical and wellbeing industries in recent years. However, it is essential to remember that not all inflammation is the same. In most circumstances, inflammation occurs as a perfectly normal response by the body to aid the healing process. Inflammation becomes a problem when it is persistent and not benefitting your body, but harming it instead. When persistent, chronic inflammation occurs, it is best to take action to prevent damage to your health.
What is Inflammation?
There are two different types of inflammation, acute inflammation, and chronic inflammation. Inflammation can occur as a result of irritants entering the body, an infection, or damage being caused to the body. The inflammation occurs as a result of the immune system recognizing the issue and triggering a healing process.
For example, if you fall over and injure your elbow, it may become swollen, red, and painful. These symptoms are a result of your body trying to protect the injury while it heals. If we eliminated all forms of inflammation, this healing process would never happen, and wounds and infections would never recover. This process is known as acute inflammation and is part of the body’s normal biological response.
Chronic inflammation is a different form of inflammation and is not usually triggered by an injury or irritant. Instead, chronic inflammation is a mistaken response by the body, as it occurs when there is no reason to trigger an immune response. If left untreated, chronic inflammation can potentially damage healthy parts of the body, which can then lead to chronic diseases developing.
What Can Cause Chronic Inflammation?
There are a few different factors that can lead to the development of chronic irritation. These include a mistaken response by the immune system, which leads to it attacking otherwise healthy tissue, as though it were harmful. This erroneous response by the body is known as an autoimmune condition.
Other factors that can cause chronic inflammation include acute inflammation, for example, from an injury that has not healed, and long term exposure to irritants, such as chemicals.
It is also believed that lifestyle factors can trigger chronic inflammation. These lifestyle choices include smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, obesity, and being under prolonged periods of chronic stress. Of course, each of these lifestyle factors is already widely recognized as being detrimental to long term health.
Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation
The symptoms of chronic inflammation are varied and largely depend on where the inflammation occurs. However, common symptoms of inflammation include swelling, stiffness, tiredness, and pain. If the inflammation is internal, such as affecting an organ, sometimes there may be no symptoms at all.
Diseases Caused by Inflammation
A number of different conditions are associated with the occurrence of chronic inflammation in the body; these include:
Arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even some types of cancer.
It is believed that the damage caused by the mistaken immune response leads to these conditions developing. This is because the inflammation can lead to otherwise healthy tissue, cells, and organs becoming damaged.
Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation
The great news is that a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the amount of unhealthy inflammation in the body. This should help the chronic inflammation to be managed better and improve overall health.
Many people choose to take a holistic approach to reduce their inflammation. This is achieved through a combination of methods:
Reducing the amount of inflammation-causing foods in their diet.
Increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory foods in their diet.
Reducing the lifestyle factors that can contribute to chronic inflammation, such as obesity, excessive alcohol intake, chronic stress, and smoking.
Some people also choose to take supplements and CBD to help reduce inflammation.
Eating to Reduce Inflammation
Diet is believed to be one of the factors that influence inflammation levels in the body. Eating a healthy diet is always a good thing to do for the sake of your health, but including more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet too can take your healthy eating a step further.
Many of the components of a healthy diet are the same foods to eat as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. However, specifically introducing more foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits could provide further health benefits.
Anti-inflammatory foods are often rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, which help to repair damaged cells caused by free radicals.
One diet, which is packed full of anti-inflammatory foods, is the Mediterranean Diet. This way of eating is based on the kinds of produce and foodstuffs mainly eaten in the Mediterranean region. Examples of foods with anti-inflammatory properties which are popular in the Mediterranean Diet include:
Healthy fats, such as olive oil
Other inflammation-busting foods include spinach, kale, and other green leafy vegetables, along with a range of fruits. Cherries, strawberries, and blueberries are packed with vitamin C, and therefore, offer many anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you can’t live without chocolate, you will be pleased to know that dark chocolate is a fantastic source of free radical-fighting antioxidants. Don’t forget that not all chocolates are created equal. The dark chocolate needs to have a high cocoa percentage to be effective, which immediately rules out milk chocolate. It is recommended that you should choose dark chocolate that has at least a 70 percent cocoa content in order to reap the benefits.
Foods That Increase Inflammation
So, now you know what you should be eating to reduce the impact of chronic inflammation in your body, but which foods should you avoid? Well, first up, let’s just say that if you are into healthy eating anyway, these probably aren’t foods that you eat all that often. Aside from the inflammatory effects of these foods, they are also items that aren’t advised for consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are going to eat these kinds of foods at all, they are best consumed in moderation.
Foods which are believed to cause inflammation include processed foods, and processed meats in particular, for example, ham and sausages. Fried foods, soda, and sugary drinks should also be avoided in order to reduce inflammation. Refined carbohydrates are also a cause of inflammation; examples of refined carbs include cakes, pastries, and white bread.
The good news is that many of these inflammation-causing foods are easy to swap with healthier alternatives, for example, by trading white bread for whole grain varieties.
Exercising to Reduce Inflammation
Exercise plays an essential part in a healthy lifestyle, whether it’s working up a sweat at the gym, or taking the dog out for a long walk each evening. The benefits of staying physically active have never been in any doubt. What you may not know is that doing just 20 minutes of exercise can help to reduce inflammation. The best part is that the activity doesn’t need to be particularly intense to count.
Research shows that 20 minutes of moderate exercise can help to reduce inflammation. The 20 minutes of exercise can include activities such as using a treadmill or walking fast. This means that the majority of people are able to achieve this amount of activity and to feel its benefits.
Staying Healthy in the Future
As you can see, many of the components of a healthy lifestyle are also great for reducing chronic inflammation in the body. Eating a healthy diet, which is full of antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory foods should help to support your immune system. Food choices appear to play a significant part in either increasing inflammation levels, which can lead to damage to the body, or decreasing them and helping to protect the body from disease.
It is always best to consult with a doctor if you are concerned about a health condition, or the impact of inflammation on your health.