What is inflammation?
Inflammation is actually a good thing, but... there can be “too much of a good thing”, as the saying goes! Our modern, often sedentary, lifestyles in the information age are contributing to inflammation in the body.
Our immune systems create inflammation as protection from infection and injury but when it becomes chronic, it can cause a whole host of problems. It is one of the key factors in disease, it has come to be widely known that chronic inflammation can cause and exacerbate many serious conditions.
Acute inflammation is restorative and helps the body to fight infection and heal injuries. There is an increase in blood flow to the affected area to help transport white blood cells, proteins and other necessary substances and this will often cause pain, redness, stiffness, swelling and heat plus a loss of function in the area that is inflamed. Chronic inflammation is when this process continues for long periods and it can begin to cause damage in the body and lead to further issues. Rheumatoid Arthritis is perhaps one of the best-known inflammatory conditions, but fatty liver disease, asthma, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and Inflammatory Bowel Disease are also common.
How do you test for inflammation?
An elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) marker shown on a complete blood test is used to detect inflammation, although this cannot determine the difference between chronic and acute inflammation. CRP is made by the liver when tissues are inflamed. Your doctor may also do other tests to investigate further in order to pinpoint the problem.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Physical inactivity, obesity, hormonal imbalances, smoking and exposure to environmental toxins, poor diet and lack of sleep all contribute to chronic inflammation. It is also linked to prolonged stress which means the sympathetic nervous system, also called “fight or flight” mode, is activated for lengthy periods. The parasympathetic nervous system modulates inflammation, but it cannot do this whilst we are in the opposite state.
What can you do to reduce inflammation naturally?
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise to reduce inflammation as it is more gentle on the body and less likely to cause muscle soreness than more vigorous forms of exercise. Qi gong and swimming are also excellent.
Connection with others and having someone to talk to will help to reduce stress. If you don’t have a support network contact one of your local agencies such as the Samaritans for help https://www.samaritan-international.eu/. Find local groups to join or online group sessions if you can’t meet people in person.
Reduce day-to-day stress by ensuring that you make time for yourself and try to include activities such as walking, exercise, yoga, qi gong, gratitude, forgiveness, meditation, singing, chanting and breathwork in your daily routine. Many of these practices help to strengthen the vagus nerve, which communicates with the brain stem to modulate inflammation.
Energy healing and alternative therapies
There are many good practitioners of various energy healing techniques plus therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy.
Improve your sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep will help your body to repair faster. Read our blog on sleep here.
Cold and heat exposure
Cold exposure has become popularised by the work of Wim Hof and his “superhuman” abilities. This has led to much needed research in this interesting field. If you don’t want to sit in a barrel of iced water then you can also try a cryotherapy chamber. Cold exposure has also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve.
Infrared saunas have been popular with athletes for some time, they have many benefits and may speed up healing and reduce inflammation.
Eat the right foods
Eat anti-inflammatory foods, high in antioxidants and avoid foods that cause inflammation like foods high in refined sugar, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and excessive alcohol. Good anti-inflammatory, nutrient rich food sources are berries, broccoli, avocados, spinach, green tea, virgin olive oil, nuts, tomatoes and medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake. Herbs and spices include turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, cinnamon, black pepper and rosemary.
Reduce your exposure to toxins
Eat organic food as much as possible and look for toxin free products. The EWG website has great information on how to do this.
There are some EXCELLENT PRODUCTS THAT WE RECOMMEND 😊 on the market that may help reduce inflammation and we also suggest working with a nutritional therapist, naturopath, ayurvedic practitioner or functional nutritionist if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
Everybody is different and reacts differently to different methods so if you have a chronic condition don’t give up hope, give things time and be open to trying new approaches!
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.