Updated: Mar 5, 2020
Chronic inflammation is the culprit of great discomfort in the lives of many, and has been linked to diabetes, cancer, depressions, Alzheimer's and arthritis. Inflammation is also the root cause for many preventable diseases including gut dysfunction.
Acute v Chronic Inflammation
Acute inflammation shows up as pain, redness, swelling and heat around tissues and joints. Acute inflammation is the result of small traumas such as stubbing a toe, cutting a finger; or infection. When an injury happens, the body’s response is to send white blood cells to protect and surround the area.
Chronic inflammation has the same response but the pain, redness, swelling and heat is persistent, as a result white blood cells start to attack healthy tissues and organs.
When living an unhealthy lifestyle, you are at high risk for chronic inflammation. Autoimmune disorders, obesity and poorly dealing with emotions can contribute to chronic inflammation.
The longer a body stays in an unhealthy state, the longer the body remains in a state of inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, depression, Alzheimer's, and make arthritis symptoms significantly worse.
Dealing with Stressors
Healthily dealing with emotions can help prevent chronic inflammation. Bottling up emotions can be linked to negative health conditions like heart attack and stroke.
It is important to deal with trauma like heartbreak, loss of a loved one; and anxiety and depression. Inflammation can affect mental health, and can even be a root cause of depression and anxiety.
Without heading to the medicine cabinet there are some supportive self-care modalities that can effectively support a battle with anxiety and/or depression, and decrease inflammation.
Yoga and all of its parts offer incredible support, and healing for the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Yoga includes physical practice, breath awareness, mental benefits, and spiritual growth. Yoga can help clear the mind, not to be mistaken for forgetting, but instead organizing the clutter of the mind.
The breath is a tool vital to any yoga or meditation practice, and lengthening the exhale has proven positive benefits on the parasympathetic nervous system, supporting an easier return to a state of rest and digest.
Meditation also supports positively focused energy and thoughts, while yoga enhances spiritual connection and historically has been practiced with the intention to grow more mindful and spiritually aware. Be careful not to create too much pressure around meditation. Meditation can start to feel too precious. It does not matter where or when you meditate, just do it.
Yoga and meditation also offers a strong sense of community if you are attending classes at a studio. The support and safety in most yoga studios can provide a strong sense of security, especially when it is lacking.
Guilt can easily sneak in over missed yoga practices or meditations. It is incredibly important to give yourself permission to mess up. Each day is so incredibly different, and it is not worth it to stress over creating a routine to rigid to follow day in and day out. Enjoy life!
Work, life and stress balance is key to battling chronic inflammation caused by stress, anxiety, or depression. Perhaps yoga is not your first choice, regardless, it is important to find a hobby or community to help take your mind off of your stressors. Exercise is proven to decrease inflammation. When dealing with anxiety or depression leaving the house does not always feel attainable, the good news, at home workouts are just as effective and just 20 minutes of exercise gets the job done. No pressure!
Finding a community can offer accountability and support on your journey back to wellness.
Inflammation can show up in our body in many different ways.
Gum disease is an easily recognized sign of inflammation. If your gums bleed when brushing or flossing it is important to schedule a dentist appointment. Some studies even show relationships between gum disease and heart disease.
While cholesterol is important to every body’s normal function, high levels of cholesterol can be dangerous. It is important to change your lifestyle in order to support stable and healthy cholesterol levels.
Chronic inflammation is aggravated by smoking and it is important for longevity in life to decide if the negative effects of smoking are worth it.
Avoiding sugar and high-fructose corn syrup can definitely support decreased inflammation in the body. Sugar also takes a negative toll on the immune system and can leave you feeling low.
Other contributors to inflammation include fried foods, red meat and refined carbs. Moderation becomes incredibly important when dealing with chronic inflammation.
“Vincent Pedre, M.D., explains, "Inflammation causes oxidative stress (a form of biochemical stress), which leads to distress signals in the brain that can lead to either depression or anxiety—or both. On the flip side, we know that the brain will release cytokines (the same chemical messengers your immune system uses to communicate an alert) in response to mental stress. The cytokines regulate really important brain functions, including neurotransmitter metabolism as well as the connection and communication between nerve cells."
What an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Looks Like
What you eat also serves as prevention for chronic inflammation. Eating a well-balanced and anti-inflammatory diet may require some lifestyle changes, but the list below offers a wide variety of anti-inflammatory snacks and delicious additions to change the way you feel.
Blueberries along with all of the berries have high antioxidants. A diet high in antioxidants supports a decrease in inflammation.
Bone Broth is a great gut healing remedy, and also supports decreasing inflammation.
Leafy Greens enhance the body’s natural detoxification process
Turmeric matched with black pepper is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Research shows turmeric can be used in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia. It may also help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and performance in active people. In addition, a relatively low dose of the complex can provide health benefits for people that do not have diagnosed health conditions.
Garlic supports cancer and heart disease prevention, supports better immune system function, provides a great source of anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger offers antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Thyme is an anti-inflammatory as well as an antibacterial and an anti-fungal.
Red Grapes are an anti-oxidant and can help combat Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.
Green Tea has quite incredible anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries.
Cherries can help reduce pain from arthritis as well as reduce the effects of delayed onset (post-workout) muscle soreness.
Plums are anti-inflammatory and can help improve the health of your bones
Olive Oil is another powerful anti-inflammatory and easy to incorporate in cooking and dressing your favorite meals.
Flax Seed is anti-inflammatory and just like most anti-inflammatories, can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Fatty Fish is an important part of a well-balanced diet because of the omega-3 fatty acids--
Apples help cut cholesterol and help fight inflammation.
There are many ways to support decreasing inflammation in your body that do not require your medicine cabinet.
As always, before making any significant lifestyle changes please consult with your physician.