Inflammation is natural to your body - but only to a point. The presence of infection catalyzes this process, which helps your body fight off this intruder and encourages healing. However, your body can also develop chronic inflammation - also called "silent" inflammation due to its abnormal or lack of symptoms. This pattern puts your immune system into overdrive and causes your body's own inflammatory process to go after your organs and tissues. This combination can contribute to a range of inflammatory conditions, from arthritis and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
If you've been battling inflammation, learn more about how it develops, and ways you can reduce it naturally.
What Is Inflammation?
Bacteria, viruses, toxic substances and injuries all instigate the inflammatory process. Your immune system becomes alert, deploying inflammatory cells and cytokines as its defenses. Your body, in response, may experience redness, pain and swelling. These sensations indicate that cells are going after the intruder and are helping your body recover. However, it should be noted that this is a description of acute inflammation, not chronic.
Chronic inflammation involves the body attacking its own cells and tissues. In terms of symptoms and response, understand the differences between the two:
- Acute inflammation tends to be a response to an injury, illness or an outside pathogen that could affect your body in some form. A mix of pain, redness through increased blood supply, swelling and heat indicates your body has signaled its defense mechanism.
- Chronic inflammation is periodic but never quite goes away. Symptoms vary from fever and joint pain to abdominal and chest pain, recurring sores, unexplained fatigue or a skin rash. Chronic inflammation can play a factor in the development of systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, heart disease, tuberculosis and type 2 diabetes.
While acute inflammation tends to be a response to an outside substance or pathogen invading your body, chronic inflammation can also be a result of:
- An autoimmune disorder
- Chemical exposure
- An injury or infection that has yet to heal
- High alcohol consumption
- Being obese
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic stress
Decreasing Inflammation in the Body
Particularly where chronic inflammation symptoms are concerned, you're advised to:
Get More Sleep
Sleep is frequently portrayed as an alertness issue, with the idea being that you should get more sleep so you can be more alert during the day. Yet, your body also renews itself during these hours. Interrupting this process can perpetuate the cycle of chronic inflammation. Aim for a minimum of seven hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep each night.
Look to get in an average of 30 minutes of exercise per day. Especially if you've primarily been leading a sedentary lifestyle, you may need to start slowly. Start with more moderate exercises, including jogging, walking quickly, cycling or strength training.
Adjust Your Diet
Certain foods - red meat, refined, simple carbohydrates and fatty, fried foods - can all heighten your body's inflammatory response. To reduce this effect:
- Base your diet around inflammation-fighting foods, including leafy green vegetables, antioxidants, beans, nuts, tomatoes, berries, lentils and fish.
- Consider spices like turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and ginger, which can reduce your body's inflammatory reaction.
- Swipe out coffee for green tea, known for polyphenols that can fight free radicals from internal and external sources.
- Limit alcohol as it also causes an inflammatory response.
Carrying around excess weight - especially if your BMI is in the obese range - can spur an inflammatory reaction in your body. Going hand in hand with increasing exercise and examining your diet, shedding those extra pounds can help reduce chronic inflammation and related risks for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
In addition to more natural sources through your diet, add vitamin A, C and D plus mineral zinc and essential fatty acids through supplements. These can calm the inflammatory process and help your body begin to repair itself. Beyond Health has you covered with our Immune Builder Bundle and our EFA Formula.