180 Nutrition: We talk about inflammation in the body a lot, and with good reason. We all have inflammation, and a small amount is necessary for survival. It’s how the body gets rid of environmental toxins and germs and all the poisons which we don’t need, so without it, we’d be in a pretty bad way.
Too much inflammation, however, activates the symptoms of disease. Cancer, stroke, heart disease, depression, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, hormone imbalance, chronic fatigue; are all triggered by too much inflammation, with no exception.
But the good news is that there is a very happy medium between too much and too little inflammation.
The level and severity of inflammation is largely controlled by the individual. You can play a significant role in reducing the amount of inflammation in your body which in turn reduces your risk of chronic disease.
The problem we face is that many seem intent on dealing with the symptoms of inflammation (cancer and other chronic illness listed above), but if everyone were to take a few steps back and take control of the cause, we’d be a much healthier nation.
So here are four of the most common causes of inflammation, and what you can do to reduce them making a much healthier you.
1) Poor Diet
Inflammation originates in the gut and spreads throughout the body from there. All chronic illness, no matter where it appears to stem from, can be traced back to poor gut health. Every single morsel of food you consume must pass through the gut, and because of this, every mouthful contributes to the overall condition.
A diet full of natural, whole foods is recommended for good gut health. Anything without a label which is eaten in its most natural form should be a staple for every meal. Fruit (in moderation), vegetables, meat, salads and good fats (including raw nuts, avocado coconut oil) should all be on the menu in abundance and shouldn’t be feared based on their calorie content.
Inflammation fighting tip: Remove foods from your diet which contribute to inflammation. Refined carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, white rice, pasta, breakfast cereal and soft drinks) vegetable oils, and anything processed should all be off the menu for the majority of your meals. There are plenty of replacements which nourish your gut, enhance your immune system, reduce inflammation and stabilise your weight in the process. Limit alcohol and birthday cake for the celebratory occasions as your body is equipped to process these on an infrequent basis.
Stress promotes the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. You need cortisol because it keeps you safe in dangerous situations (helps you run fast if someone is chasing you for example) However, too much of it has a negative impact on the body and causes inflammation.
Inflammation fighting tip: While it’s virtually impossible to remove all stressful situations from your life, some good stress management techniques will reduce the levels of cortisol in your body and therefore inflammation. Practice mindful breathing, meditation and always aim to get a good night’s sleep
3) Lack of Exercise
Our bodies are designed to move. The benefits of regular exercise are far too many to list here, but apart from making us fitter, healthier and happier in so many areas; exercise also reduces C-reactive protein which is produced by the liver. C-reactive protein is a marker for disease and it increases along with inflammation.
While regular exercise is good for you, extended cardio sessions can actually put stress on your body and promote the release of cortisol which increases inflammation so choose your activity wisely.
Inflammation fighting tip: Move your body within its capabilities at least once a day for a minimum of 30 minutes. Avoid overly excessive cardio sessions and consider including a weight-based training program, power walking, yoga, cycling or swimming.
4) Environmental Pollutants
Chemicals emitted from cars and factories, and pesticides sprayed on food are all examples of environmental factors which cause inflammation and are almost unavoidable. Short of walking around in protective clothing, there’s little that can be done about the air that you breath.
Inflammation fighting tip: Buy organic foods where possible and carefully wash all non-organic produce. Escape the city when you can and enjoy the fresh air outside of the masses.
While it’s virtually impossible to completely avoid exposure to factors which cause inflammation, if you focus as much as possible on those areas where you can; you will reduce your overall risk of chronic, and potentially life-threatening illness.