Everyone knows inflammation: you bump your head and get a bruise, or wake up with a sore throat. The pain, swelling and redness you feel in situations like these is due to the body’s response to trauma and it’s mechanism for protecting the injury so it can heal. Inflammation is good….in this case.
There’s also another kind of inflammation – your body’s response to stress – whether from your diet, lifestyle or environment- which occurs as your body is trying to eradicate the effects of a less acute invading stressor.
So what about the less obvious inflammation, the kind that’s silently gnawing at your joints, your heart or nerves in the form of arthritis, heart disease or multiple sclerosis?
Silent inflammation is the common underlying mechanism to so many problems, and the cause of most chronic conditions – everything from Allergies and Asthma to Digestive Issues, Cancer, Arthritis and MS.
When your body’s systems experience a constant inflammatory response, you become more susceptible to aging and chronic disease.
So how do you know you’re inflamed even when you’re not experiencing symptoms? There’s a simple blood test you can have done called C Reactive Protein or CRP that measures the degree of hidden inflammation in your body, and interestingly excess belly fat has also been linked to chronic, low grade inflammation.
Why are you inflamed?
There are many triggers that can activate an inflammatory response in the body:
Free radicals are unstable chemicals formed in the body during normal metabolism or exposure to environmental toxins such as air, food and water pollution. If allowed to go unchecked, free radicals can cause damage to the body’s cells.
Allergens (sometimes undetected) from food or the environment are more common than ever. Common food allergens include corn, wheat, soy and other grains containing gluten (rye, barley, spelt and contaminated oats).
The best way to tame inflammation is to take a a multi-prongred approach.
Eliminate … potential food allergens such as corn, wheat, dairy and soy from your diet for at least a month and then slowly add them back in one at a time (if you must) to determine your body’s reaction. As you eliminate you will become more sensitive and in tune with your digestion and more easily able to feel the difference.
Reduce or eliminate… the consumption of inflammatory foods like coffee, dairy, gluten, alcohol and red meat.
Add… anti inflammatory foods to your daily diet – leafy greens, cold water fish such as sardines and wild salmon, raw nuts and seeds and plenty of fruits and vegetables and filtered water.
Get an oil change… and swap Saturated and Trans Fats (that are solid at room temperature such as butter, animal fats and any hydrogenated oils) for Mono or Poly unsaturated fats such as olive oil or safflower oil which are liquid at room temperature to dial down inflammation.
Exercise… and move that body. Getting your blood pumping gets your lymphatic system going too, which ultimately escorts toxins out of the body.
Probiotic you’ve heard me talk about this before. Your gut is the inner tube of life, so you want to make sure you provide it with all the right bacteria and cultures to keep it running smoothly. * it’s a good idea to rotate types and brands of probiotics to get the most strands of bacteria.
Get on a good Multi Vitamin Even if you’ve got the cleanest, most veggie-dense diet on the planet, chances are you’re not able to get everything you need in terms of vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, because our soil has been depleted and overfarmed and veggies just ain’t what they used to be. I’d stick to a food based brand such as Pure Encapsulations or Standard Process.
Relax Find time (schedule it if you have to!) in your day to tune out the chaos and activity of life and sit quietly in meditation, read a book or practice some other form of mindfulness such as Tai Chi or Yoga.
The best way to prevent disease is to start before you the fires of inflammation start burning. In the wise words of the Chinese Medical Classic Nei Jing from the 2nd century BC
“Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure disease after it has appeared is like digging a well when one feels thirsty, or forging weapons after the war has already begun.”