It’s not realistic to expect to resolve chronic inflammation overnight, but what I share in this article can not just be life saving but life invigorating as well.
It’s a fact. We now know that inflammation is typically the most common variable in the presentation of degenerative and chronic disease. What’s more, a convincing body of current scientific research has linked chronic inflammation to a host of painful diseases. The problems associated with inflammation are so widespread they’re changing the way medical professionals look at the diagnosis, and treatment of disease.
Although many factors contribute to stress, a common denominator is inflammation. When inflammation becomes chronic, the immune system starts attacking normal cells, and so the process that ordinarily heals becomes destructive. This destructive physiological response by the immune system to prolonged inflammatory stress causes pathological cellular changes in human tissues that are linked to a variety of diseases.
Here’s a short list of the diseases that we now know are now associated with chronic inflammation:
- Alzheimer's disease
- autoimmune disease such as MS
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- irritable bowel syndrome
- Parkinson's disease
- rheumatoid arthritis
As we age our risk of chronic inflammation increases, especially when combined with obesity, high sugar intake or high intake of saturated fats. Common signs of chronic inflammation are ongoing pain in the body and joints, allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, increased body weight, unhealthy blood sugar levels, chronic constipation or diarrhea, persistent fatigue or lethargy and skin problems--all these symptoms indicate underlying disease.
So where do you start? How can you eliminate chronic inflammation?
First recognize that there’s no magic bullet. Because the presentation of symptoms is unique to every individual, you and your health practitioner need to assess your physical, psychological, and social make up, considering factors such as lifestyle, habits, body composition, diet, and genetics. For many, it will mean a concentrated effort in several areas. If in doubt, there now are blood tests that can confirm a chronic inflammation diagnosis.
Diet is a good place to start because it’s a common link in most issues connected with chronic inflammation. It may take you months, even years to resolve ongoing stress problems but you can make better food choices daily starting right now--it’s one area you can easily improve. The foods we choose to eat--or not to eat--can significantly influence inflammatory responses that have become chronic.
- First, chose foods that fight inflammation, while simultaneously cutting out foods that tend to be inflammatory. You’ll discover that when you improve your diet, other areas of health will also improve. Below is a list of foods you should avoid as well foods and natural supplements that can help.
- Increase fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and omega-3 fatty acids promote anti-inflammation.
- Avoid processed sugars. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Cytokines are proteins released from cells that trigger inflammation. Moderate alcohol consumption, alcohol is a refined sugar that increases inflammation.
- Avoid trans fats. Trans fats are manufactured hydrogenated vegetable oils that prevent spoiling at room temperature. These fats are linked to many serious inflammatory diseases. Trans fats can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers, stick margarine, mayonnaise, peanut butter and most all processed foods. Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient labels. Avoid oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, and peanut oils. Instead chose olive, coconut or avocado oil.
- Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white rice. Avoid white flour products; breads, rolls, crackers, instant mashed potatoes, french fries, and many cereals with refined carbohydrates. Eat less meat products and full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts. Be careful with gluten products. A low glycemic diet tends to reduce inflammation.
- Eat plenty of natural anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, curry, rosemary, garlic, cherries, fish oil, basil, walnuts, and curcumin a constituent of turmeric. Other supplements that have shown positive results on reducing inflammation include magnesium, TEA polyphenols, DHEA and sesame lingnans.
Develop the habit of reading labels when shopping for food. Many food items in commercial grocery stores are processed foods primarily composed of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Highly processed food ingredients are often detrimental to cellular biology and are linked to chronic inflammation, as well as numerous serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain.
Medications can be part of the problem too. Do you regularly use medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, or prescription anti-inflammatory meds? Treating chronic symptoms with over the counter medications can have more negative side effects than benefits because you’re treating symptoms without understanding the root causes of your health issues. If you regularly use these medications to treat the pain associated with inflammatory disease, it’s time to look for a better solution.
But when all’s said and done, dietary adjustments may not be enough. If you’re over worked, over-weight or you’ve got a drinking or drug problem, you’ll need to address these issues as well.
So here’s the bottom line: if you really want to feel better and reduce the chronic inflammation that underlies many if not most of your health concerns:
- Reduce stress through exercise, meditation and lifestyle changes
- Find and maintain your ideal weight through diet and exercise
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
- Eliminate smoking and drug use.
- Reduce or eliminate over-the-counter ‘pain relievers.’
Note: the information presented in this article is the product of my own years of research, and hundreds of interviews with fellow health-care practitioners and patients.