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Why Should You Be Thinking About Inflammation?

For starters, Chronic inflammation is involved in the disease process of many conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Asthma, Cancer, Heart disease, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and Type 2 diabetes.  That’s a serious list, but the good news is that our choices regarding food, fitness, stress(relief), sleep, drinking and smoking impact the inflammation in our body. 

Why is that good news?  
Because all of those things are within your control!!   

What is inflammation? 

It is an immune system response that is triggered when your body encounters an offending agent or suffers an injury.  Your immune system sends out its first responders: inflammatory cells and cytokines (substances that stimulate more inflammatory cells).  These cells begin an inflammatory response to trap those offending agents or start healing injured tissue. 

The result can be pain, swelling, bruising or redness. But inflammation also affects body systems you can’t see.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.  Acute inflammation is the body’s response to sudden body damage, such as cutting your finger. To heal the cut, your body sends inflammatory cells to the injury. These cells start the healing process.  With chronic inflammation, your body continues to sent inflammatory  cells even when there is no injury or danger.  Your body is left in a constant state of alert which over time can have a negative impact on tissues and organs.  

You may be more likely to develop chronic inflammation due to the following lifestyle choices:

  • Drink alcohol in excess.
  • Have a high body mass index (BMI) that falls within the ranges for obesity, unless that is a result of being very muscular.
  • Exercise at your maximum intensity too frequently, or you don’t exercise enough.
  • Experience chronic stress.
  • Smoke
  • Eat a diet that is high in sugar, refined oils and trans fats, and processed carbohydrates.  

Not sure if inflammation is a factor for you?  Here are some signs of inflammation that you can look out for.   Get ready, it’s a long list!

  1. Weight gain, Carrying excess weight, especially in the abdominal area
  2. Inability to lose weight when trying
  3. Constipation, bloating, gas, or big changes in digestion
  4. Fatigue or a feeling “tired and wired” at the same time
  5. Increased cravings for carbs, sugar, salt, or caffeine
  6. Acid reflux
  7. Eye puffiness or constant dark circles
  8. Susceptibility to colds, UTIs, sinus, and yeast infections
  9. Low sex drive
  10. Stiffness, aches, or joint pain
  11. Feel like you’re more forgetful or can’t remember things as well

As you can see, chronic inflammation has serious health threats, and the lifestyle choices you make everyday – that are within your control – can be to blame.  You’ve reviewed the list of signs of inflammation, and no doubt you checked a few boxes, indicating that you need to make some changes.  And now you must be wondering, “What can I do to reduce and prevent it to improve my overall wellness.”

Look at the lifestyle factors above that are known to affect inflammation, and tackle the list one at a time.  Review and limit the foods that may increase inflammation.  And look for ways to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet more regularly.  

You may feel better if you avoid:

  • Fried foods, including many fast food items.
  • Cured meats with nitrates, such as hot dogs.
  • Highly refined oils and trans fats.
  • Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, pastries or white bread.

You can also choose to eat more foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, such as:

  • Oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon or sardines.
  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale.
  • Olive oil.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Fish Oil Supplements

An important part of long term health is making choices proactively.  Why wait until something is wrong to start making better choices?  

Control what you can control when you can control it.  Take strategic steps toward health today!

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