Our bodies have a natural response to stress and injuries. Acute inflammation is our body’s immune response to injury or illness. Acute inflammation triggers our immune and lymphatic system to promote healing. With an acute injury like rolling your ankle, this immediate inflammatory response limits range of motion to act as a self-splint while supplying nutrients to the tissues in an effort to promote healing. This inflammation acts as an arrow to direct the natural process of healing.
In contrast, chronic inflammation is inflammation run amok. Often caused by daily stress or poor diet, chronic inflammation disables our immune system and prevents our body’s natural ability to identify and eliminate the threat or agent causing the inflammation. Putting our bodies in constant stress can cause our immune system to be over-reactive, increase toxic cortisol levels, and trigger weight gain. Many ailments have been linked to chronic stress, including asthma, arthritis, Crohns Disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, CardioVascular Disease and Hypertension, diabetes, acne.
Signs of chronic inflammation include headaches, digestive discomfort, bloating, joint paint, rashes and other skin problems, fatigue, weight gain or inability to lose weight, gum disease, mood swings, and varied types of allergies. Are we simply victims of this chronic stress? NO! We can often manage much of this unwanted inflammation through lifestyle and diet changes. Dependent on your, individualized biology.
One of the most significant changes we can make to prevent unwanted inflammation is through dietary changes. It is important to note that everyone’s biological and digestive make-up is different, therefore there is no one-sized-fits-all diet that can reduce all inflammation. However, by reducing many inflammatory foods from our diet and making a conscious effort to listen to our bodies, we can often reduce chronic inflammation. Some common foods that trigger inflammatory responses include: saturated and trans-fats, gluten, dairy, corn oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil, GMO foods, canola oil, refined carbohydrates and sugars, artificial ingredients and colors, and alcohol. In addition, be mindful when cooking your meats as high heat charring can induce advanced glycation end-products (AGE), known to cause excessive inflammation, as well as smoke points for cooking oils. We often suggested to have a food intolerance test done to see what foods trigger an inflammatory response for you.
Just as important as reducing these foods in our diet, consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation as well. Checking the ORAC Values (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of foods provides a scale of their anti-inflammatory power. High on the list includes: ground clove, turmeric, curcumin, chia and flax seeds, elderberries, blueberries, avocados and avocado oil, coconut oil. In addition, foods naturally high in fiber can help reduce digestive stress.
In addition to dietary changes, stress management is critical to reducing chronic inflammation. Although there are numerous stress reducing techniques we might explore, yoga, meditation, wave breathing technique, exercise, etc., finding something we can easily and consistently add to our routine is key. Take a few moments to slow down each day and destress.