Why would you care about inflammation? Trust me I didn’t either until I got an autoimmune disease and became obsessed with how to reduce my symptoms to live my life again! If you haven’t heard about it inflammation, you will soon, it’s the biggest underlying cause and contributor of every illness – autoimmune, heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and so much more.
So, what is it?
Two Types of Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is when the on/off switch to inflammation stays on for a long, long time. It happens when the body doesn’t eliminate whatever was causing acute inflammation. It’s an autoimmune response to a self-antigen – the immune system attacks normal healthy tissue, mistaking it for something harmful or it happens with low level exposure to an irritant, like a chemical.
What Causes Inflammation? The Big 5
When you gain weight, your fat cells expand, and you are constantly in a swollen state. Your body doesn’t like this new “situation” so it brings in the white blood cells to help. Pretty soon, the cells stop responding to the insulin (which regulates blood sugar), and then the white blood cells that were there to help you now start entering your bloodstream and damaging the liver. Sadly, this is the beginning of diabetes.
Stress and Anxiety
Oh-my-gosh. So many causes of stress and anxiety today. I don’t know when I haven’t answered the question, “How are you?” with, “Craaaaazy busy”! Bottom line, stress and anxiety increase cortisol. Cortisol causes inflammation. When you are constantly under stress, you’re constantly in an inflammatory state. Bam.
Environmental – Pollution, Bad Air, Smoking
Bad air and toxicity cause inflammation. On top of that cigarette smoking exposes all (even dogs, sadly) to bad air. Under prolonged exposure, our immune system never stops trying to repair itself and detoxify. That constant effort to repair itself is chronic inflammation.
Lack of Sleep
During sleep, the body rests and the immune system calms down. Lack of restorative sleep is a major promoter of inflammation. People with rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disorders know this, because lack of sleep due to pain associated with their condition promotes further flare-ups and more pain.
Digestive Issues/Leaky Gut
“Leaky gut” happens when the cells lining the intestines begin to develop larger and larger spaces. Inflammation causes the spaces between the cells of the gut wall to become larger than usual. Then protein molecules are absorbed before they have a chance to be completely broken down starting the autoimmune response (there’s more, but this is a complicated topic we could spend all day). Suffice to say “Leaky gut” is almost always associated with autoimmune disease healing the gut is almost always associated with reducing the autoimmune disease symptoms.
What are Remedies for Inflammation? The Big 5
Here’s the fun part – I am 100% A-ddicted to learning more about this!
In general regular exercise reduces the markers of inflammation. Some amount of inflammation is necessary to make gains in exercise. Your body gets stronger via the inflammatory response to the stress of the exercise by rebuilding and refortifying its tissues. An effective training session is basically a session that triggers an inflammatory response interspersed with recovery which over time reduces inflammation. On top of all that, it’s an incredible stress-reliever so check that box too!
Become a Yogi
Yoga has been shown to decrease cortisol and adrenaline, the main stress hormones that make you feel overwhelmed, cranky, and on edge. Most studies show that significant hormonal improvement requires three to six months of regular practice for 30 to 60 minutes per day, five days a week. While all yoga styles may help, research has examined hatha yoga, pranayama (such as deep breathing), and meditation to have the greatest rewards.
Stress increases your blood pressure and heart rate, making your blood vessels work harder. Essentially, you’re pounding on them more often and creating damage. If that damage happens over and over, inflammation occurs.
If you’re not clocking at least 6 hours of restful sleep a night, you’re more susceptible to inflammation than those who have a solid night of slumber, according to research presented at the American Heart Association 2010 Scientific Sessions in Chicago. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep was linked to significantly increased levels of three key inflammatory markers.
Include Anti Inflammatory Foods in Your Diet
In a nutshell, anti-inflammatory foods include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices. The anti-inflammatory diet is one of the many reasons I choose to be vegan.
Take Action on Inflammation Now!
Inflammation is a hot topic. Toxins in our body and environment clog up our ability to function our best. Since I already have an autoimmune illness, I am obsessed, on what I can learn and do to optimize my life and others around me. What are you doing to reduce inflammation? I’d love to hear!
Love and Light,