One of the most prevalent buzzwords in health headlines today is inflammation. What causes it. How to treat it. Why it might be the culprit for making you feel less than 100%. To get the full picture, let’s look at what inflammation is, how it can impact your health, and ways to reduce it.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation isn’t always bad. In fact, it’s a natural process that your body uses to heal and defend itself from infection, injury, or illness. We all recognize the signs of short-term inflammation: the pain, heat, redness, and swelling that pops up when we’re fighting infection, have a cut, or run into something. Inflammation only becomes a problem when it becomes a chronic condition.
How can inflammation impact your health?
When your body has an inflammatory response, your immune system jumps into action. But if this occurs when there is no infection or illness, inflammation can damage your healthy joints and organs and arteries. This damage can happen without you even realizing it until you start feeling unwell or fatigued. When bodies are under chronic attack from inflammation and it goes unchecked it can drive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and cancer.
Doctors can confirm the level of inflammation in your body through a series of blood tests.
Ways to reduce inflammation
Inflammation can last for days, weeks, and even years, but the good news is that you can control or even reduce it by making changes to your diet, sleep, exercise, and stress levels.
1. What you eat
You’ll want to focus on eating foods that are anti-inflammatory and eliminating foods that are known to cause inflammation to protect yourself from or reduce chronic inflammation in your body. The Mediterranean diet, the traditional foods those who lived in Italy in Greece back in the 1960s ate that include fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains and very little red meat and no processed foods, is an example of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Foods to eat to reduce inflammation:
Foods to avoid or reduce because they cause inflammation:
2. Moderate Exercise
Most of us realize the benefits of moderate exercise, but now a study confirms the benefits of a 20-minute session of moderate exercise to stimulate the immune system and produce an anti-inflammatory response. When you exercise your body activates immunological responses.
3. Getting adequate sleep
Turns out that sleep, immune function, and inflammation are regulated by circadian rhythms. When your regular circadian rhythms are interrupted, normal immune function is also disrupted which then triggers inflammation. Doing your best to maintain a consistent sleep schedule is one way to reduce inflammation
4. Reduce stress
Just like inflammation, there is a good side to stress. But, when it becomes chronic, it’s a problem. Stress reduces the white blood cells that fight off infection called lymphocytes. When this goes on too long, increased inflammation results. As you better manage stress, the inflammation in your body will go down as well.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to practice meditation several times a week (daily is best). Spending a few moments each day being mindful and focusing on your breath can reduce your cortisol levels and inflammation. You can also use mindfulness and deep breathing throughout the day when events trigger a stress response. While you can’t avoid stressful situations altogether, you can control your response.
Pilates is a great way to reduce stress and ultimately inflammation and help you move well, feel well, and live well. Please call or text us today at 303-472-6743 to schedule your introductory session.