Inflammation is a double-edged sword that can be either good or bad for you and your body. In small doses it helps start the healing process when an acute injury occurs. Long-term inflammation lingering in the body is a chronic systemic condition that needs to be taken care of properly. Chronic, long-term inflammation can happen when there is continued stress on the body and you do not recover properly. These stressors can be a bad diet, lack of exercise, minor repetitive injuries, and even toxins in the environment. These stressors add up over time, and although they may not be noticed at first, they can lead to problems over time.
Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to a decreased immune system and damage to our cells. It is linked to heart disease, some cancers, gout, and Alzheimer’s. The good news is that by living a healthy lifestyle you can avoid, or at the very least decrease, damage.
Tips to decrease chronic inflammation:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet (anti-inflammatory). This diet is high in veggies and fruits, healthy fats (olive oil), and has less sugar and processed foods than the standard American diet.
- Have fun! This can decrease build up of stress hormones that are pro-inflammatory.
- Sleep: Be sure you are getting regular, quality sleep.
- Exercise: Excess fat can lead to a state of inflammation. Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases. Try to get exercise daily and obtain a healthier weight (body fat %).
- Quit Smoking!
- Fish oil: highly concentrated supplements containing omega-3s (anti-inflammatory) may be able to help decrease a pro-inflammatory state in the body. Also try to eat fish 2-5 times per week. Look for salmon, pacific cod, sardines, and smaller fish that are wild caught.
- Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, barley, and other “ancient grains” can be more anti-inflammatory than even whole wheat. Stay away from pro-inflammatory grains like refined flour, rice, and pasta.
- Spices: Give your food a kick with some anti-inflammatory spice. Turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, and ginger have many health benefits and taste great!
- Fruits & Veggies: Get a wide variety of seasonal, local, and organic food whenever possible.
- Proteins: Be smart about where you are getting your proteins. Beans, lentils, soy, nuts, seeds, and even quinoa are full of quality protein and contain less fat then traditional protein sources (beef, pork, chicken).
- Proper Movement: Be sure your body is humming along and everything is getting proper movement and motion. A decrease in motion can lead to a buildup of inflammation in a local area that may eventually lead to pain. See your chiropractor & acupuncturist to be sure you are working in top form!
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Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.
LA Times “Inflammaging”- Paula Spencer Scott