Though the body needs an appropriate inflammatory response to fight off harmful stimuli and toxins, a persistent reaction within the body poses great risk. In fact, emerging evidence suggests chronic inflammation may cause a number of health concerns, including heart disease and depression.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s self-defense mechanism, aiming to remove harmful stimuli and initiate an appropriate healing response. Though it is often confused with infection, an infection is caused by a bacterium, virus, or fungus, while inflammation is the body’s immune response to it. Inflammation is further broken down into acute and chronic inflammation, with an acute inflammatory response tending to start quickly and subside within a few days, while chronic inflammation can last months to years depending on the cause and repetitive exposure. What causes inflammation is multifaceted, though it may be related to an acute response to infection or overexposure to dietary or environmental toxins.
Most of the concern encircling inflammation is associated to chronic inflammation, as a prolonged inflammatory response has links to a number of health conditions. Additionally, inflammatory diseases particularly end on “-itis” with the suffix entailing inflammation, as arthritis is inflammation of the joints while colitis is inflammation of the colon. Particularly in the presence of arthritis, symptoms of inflammation include redness, swollen joints, joint pain and stiffness.
But Is Inflammation the Root Cause of Most Health Issues?
The evolving evidence of chronic inflammation emerges a new field of interest, prompting healthcare professionals to focus on the origin of disease rather than managing the surfaced symptoms. Though there is still to be known whether or not inflammation is the root cause of most health issues, research has indicated chronic inflammation…
…plays a role in all developmental stages of cancer.
…increases the risk of a number of conditions, including asthma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
…shortens the lifespan, along with provoking an early onset of age-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
…displays a strong association to depression.
How to Reduce Inflammation
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Especially if overweight or obese, excess fatty acids (FA) circulate in the blood and can cause inflammation within the body. Reducing FA existence by shedding off extra body fat and maintaining a healthy weight, inflammation can be reduced.
Consume Anti-Inflammatory Foods
In addition to reducing the intake of pro-inflammatory foods (such as refined flour, sugar, and soybean oil), consume anti-inflammatory foods, including sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, fruits and veggies, and various spices and herbs. Along with incorporating the sources listed, find out how to use food as medicine here.
From weight maintenance to heart health, exercise continues to grant great benefits, including reduced total inflammation. Researchers have indicated regular physical activity can lower inflammatory markers within the body, while resistance training may also reduce systemic inflammation.
Prescribe to Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Particularly if managing an inflammatory disease, anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are primarily used to treat inflammation and include commonly used aspirin and ibuprofen.
Chronic stress has been linked to chronic inflammation, ultimately highlighting the importance of managing stress. In fact, researchers have previously found stress may alter genes associated to immunity; inferring psychology can significantly impact biology. Practice healthy stress-relieving techniques, including exercise, yoga, and meditation, and give up the harmful habits of smoking and binge drinking.
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