Inflammation and How to Fight it
Inflammation is a normal, healthy biological response, which helps rid your body of harmful bacterias, toxins, viruses and damaged cells. In the case of acute inflammation, like when you have a cut or you’re dealing with a cold, the process usually only lasts a few hours or a few days. Unfortunately, several factors can interfere with this natural healing system of your body, sending it into overdrive, stimulating it too much and hindering the healing process to cause damage to your body.
Chronic inflammation occurs when the response lingers, leaving your body stuck in a constant state of alert. This heightened stress can have a negative effect on the organs and tissues of your body. Some research suggests that chronic inflammation can play a role in a variety of harmful conditions, from Alzheimer's to cancer to stroke.
The signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation can be hard to identify as distinct from other conditions. While the symptoms of acute swelling are hard to miss, like redness, swelling, and pain, chronic inflammation is usually a little more subtle. Symptoms include
- Body pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Gastrointestinal complications like diarrhea or constipation
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Persistent infections
There are some underlying medical conditions that can cause chronic inflammation, such as autoimmune disorders, which cause your immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Long term exposure to irritants like chemicals can cause it as well. But there are a number of environmental and lifestyle factors that can bring on the condition, which are fortunately able to be controlled by us. Smoking, alcohol, poor nutrition, obesity, and chronic stress all interfere with the natural inflammation process of the body.
Sugar is toxic to the immune system, so one way to fight chronic inflammation is to cut back on sugar intake. Sodas and other sweetened drinks are one of the biggest sources of sugar we consume in the modern world. By switching to diet soda, unsweetened flavored waters, or unsweetened coffee or tea, you could be helping reduce inflammation in your body. And be sure to always check the nutrition facts. Fast food restaurants always like to sneak sugar in in the most surprising places. Sugar is also one of the biggest causes of excess calories, and maintaining a healthy body weight is another way to help reduce inflammation.
While sugar is bad for inflammation, on the other hand, spice is everything nice. Turmeric, a staple spice in Indian cooking, is rich in a compound called curcumin. Some research has suggested this compound can be as effective as ibuprofen when it comes to reducing pain and swelling. Garlic, ginger, and capsaicin have all been linked to reducing inflammation as well.
The right kind of fats are also a great way to fight inflammation. All fats aren’t created equal. Fish, nuts, avocados, flax seeds, and canola oil all contain healthy omega-3 fats that have great anti-inflammatory properties. While animal fats are overall less healthy, switching to a healthier source like grass fed beef or lean poultry means you don’t have to spend your life subsisting on fish and nuts.