There may be something undermining your health that you don’t know about…yet!
While the symptoms are varied such as swelling, pain, skin issues, GI upset – there are common causes of inflammation to be aware of. Once you know where your inflammation is coming from, you can focus on ways to help support your healing
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is part of your body’s defense system and plays a big role in the healing process. It is your body’s response to an offending agent, such as stress, toxins, infection, disease or injury. When these invaders enter your body, the immune system responds by sending out inflammatory cells and cytokines to trap them.
Inflammation can be acute or chronic. In acute inflammation, an injury or illness causes short-term inflammation. This usually looks like swelling, pain, redness, and the area feeling hot to touch.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, lasts for months or years and is harmful if left untreated.
6 Common Causes of Inflammation:
The typical American diet is full of inflammatory foods. Refined carbohydrates, processed meats, fried foods, and sugary drinks all cause inflammation. These foods also contribute to weight gain, as well as blood sugar and lipid dysregulation, all risk factors for further inflammation.
Chronic stress is a big player in inflammation. Worry, strain, and anxiety in daily life add a load of stress to the physical body. When stressed over a long period of time, it can lead to immune system dysfunction, and therefore inflammation.
Toxins, pollution, and industrial chemicals are, unfortunately, all around us. These toxins can include herbicides, pesticides, phthalates, and BPA. Even if we do our best to avoid them, some level of toxin exposure is impossible to avoid in the modern world. Repeated exposure to toxins can cause chronic inflammation.
When something foreign enters the body, like viruses, bacteria, yeast, or parasites, the immune system jumps to action to prevent infection. When left untreated, infections can cause acute or chronic inflammation in the body.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system attacks normal, healthy tissue. The body’s defense system is triggering inflammation even when there are no real “invaders” to fight off (although many times there are low level chronic infections present). This causes damage and inflammation to otherwise healthy tissue.
Cardiometabolic diseases include heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and chronic renal failure. Experts believe that inflammation plays a significant role in these chronic diseases. People with these conditions usually have higher levels of inflammatory markers. This inflammation can last for months to years, even long after an initial trigger is gone.
5 Easy Ways to Reduce Inflammation
One of the best ways to reduce inflammation is through an anti-inflammatory diet. Because unhealthy foods are a common cause of inflammation, healthy foods are the solution. Fruits and vegetables are high in both antioxidants and polyphenols, which are protective micronutrients found in plants. Considered reducing agents, polyphenols work together with other antioxidants to protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation.
Some foods that fight inflammation are nuts, leafy greens, olive oil, tomatoes, fatty fish, and fruits. Focus on eating more plants, cutting out processed foods, and eating colorful fruits and vegetables.
Supplementation can play a big role in curbing inflammation. Three powerful supplements with anti-inflammatory properties are omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric (including curcumin), and vitamin D.
Fatty fish, such as tuna and mackerel, contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate inflammation. Taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement allows you to get those healthy fatty acids in a daily pill without having to eat high levels of fish or nuts. This will help support the body in maintaining normal inflammatory balance.
Turmeric is another powerful supplement to help reduce inflammation! With natural anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric helps restore normal inflammatory balance and strengthens the immune system.
Curcumin, the anti-inflammatory compound within turmeric, helps support the immune system, restore the inflammatory process, and provide pain relief! By choosing to take a curcumin supplement, you’re doing one of the best – and easiest! – things to support your body in reducing inflammation.
Vitamin D is another key supplement with anti-inflammatory properties. It acts as an antioxidant in the body, suppressing inflammatory agents, like prostaglandins. Taking a vitamin D supplement supports your body in fighting off inflammation. Vitamin D is also crucial for proper immune system function, as well as brain health, bone health, and hormone health.
There are of course many other nutrients and herbs that also influence inflammation. Picking the right ones can be challenging without some guidance, as it will depend on the root cause of inflammation and symptoms.
Sleep is one of the best protective factors the body has. Make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night.
Improve your sleep hygiene by making your bedroom quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature. Refrain from using any electronics at least 30 minutes before going to bed (1-2 hours for more sensitive people). Create a consistent sleep routine, going to bed and then waking up at the same time each day.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent inflammation. Even short amounts of exercise can be beneficial. Aim to get 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise and 20 minutes of weight or resistance training at least four times a week. The goal is 150 min per week of moderate intensity exercise.
When you begin exercising more, weight loss is a natural consequence. Better yet, losing weight may help decrease inflammation further.
As you learned, chronic stress plays a role in inflammation. Find ways to unwind throughout the day, whether it’s meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or walking/relaxing movement. While we can’t change all of the stressful situations we experience in life, we can control our response and perception to that stress. Work to manage stress through positive activities that help you unwind.
Toxins are all around us. To minimize their impact, consider these changes:
- Drink plenty of clean, filtered water. I recommend a good quality reverse osmosis filtration system that also adds back in minerals (or you can do this yourself as well).
- Purify your air. This can be done with a high quality HEPA air filter. I recommend Austin Air and IQ Air to my patients.
- Clean your house weekly but be aware of cleaning products that are made with toxic chemicals.
- Eat organic. Many toxins enter the body through food, so it’s important to minimize your exposure by eating organic. While not everything needs to be organic, some foods have higher levels of contaminants than others. Focus on getting these foods organic:
- Fruits: apples, grapes, peaches, strawberries, nectarines
- Vegetables: celery, spinach, peppers, kale, and collard greens
- Do a detox with your doctor to help upregulate your body’s natural detoxification pathways.
Start by implementing one of these steps to reduce inflammation and add on from there. Even one change can make a big difference.
Have questions about how to combat inflammation? Here’s how we can help.
We offer a wide range of supplements to help fight inflammation, including omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, vitamin D and many others. If you feel like you need support from a doctor to help find and treat the root causes of your inflammation, you can schedule an appointment here.