Healthy Living

It’s like a fire in your body, Harvard Dr says.

It’s only over the last few years that I have become aware of the negative impact inflammation can have on our body’s general health and energy output. In fact I actually had no idea that our body has two types of inflammation responses, let’s think good cop/bad cop here.

Acute inflammation is the obvious inflammation you can see, it’s the kind of inflammation you want to be around, to promote healing to any form of injury. I’m no scientist but at a high level it is the release of antibodies and proteins, as well as increased blood flow to the damaged area. Basically it is the body’s response to speed the healing of an injury up. Thumbs up!

The less helpful of the two is the inflammation is the one that lingers without any obvious clue it’s even hiding out in your body. Chronic inflammation, is when the immune system goes into overdrive without an injury or infection to fight. Since there’s nothing to heal, the immune system cells that normally protect us actually begin to destroy us.

This is the kind of inflammation you want to wave goodbye too, sort of like 2020. Over time chronic inflammation can have a negative affect on your tissues and organs, increasing the risk diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and auto-immune diseases.

Dr. Andrew Luster, of the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, describes chronic inflammation like a fire in your body you cannot see or feel. “It’s a smoldering process that injures your tissues, joints, and blood vessels, and you often do not notice it until significant damage is done,” Luster says.

As someone who has struggled with an auto-immune disease myself, inflammation has been a hot topic of research. Mainly because as with many diseases, auto-immune disease doesn’t really have a one-stop quick fix for all.

With my focus being on chronic inflammation, the obvious questions I’ve had were around any lifestyle factors that I could improve and what helps to prevent/cure it?

My main takings were – cut the sugar, dairy and gluten, plus up your exercise and lower your stress. I’ll probably write some further articles on these going forward but for now in today’s busy world I personally find this list a bit OTT. The best suggestion I have is to simply look at your diet and try to increase nutrient-dense foods that contain antioxidants.

Antioxidants work by reducing levels of free radicals. These reactive molecules are created as a natural part of your metabolism but can lead to inflammation when they’re not held in check.

A study in the May 2016 British Journal of Nutrition found that polyphenols from onions, turmeric, red grapes, and green tea lowered a marker for inflammation in the body. All types of berries also are rich in polyphenols, so grab as many handfuls of cherries as you can. Dark leafy greens are also nature’s magic pill to reduce chronic inflammation.

There has also been a lot of evidence supporting the mediterrianian diet. So up your health oil intake. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel offer healthy doses of omega-3 fatty acids, which have long been shown to reduce inflammation. Omega-3s may even lower levels of inflammation in the brain.

I’d be interested to know if you also have struggled with inflammation in the body and what tips/research you found helpful?

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