Basically, there are two kinds of inflammation – acute and chronic. Contrary to our intuition, acute inflammation is the good guy here. It has a protective function and is part of our healing mechanism. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is highly destructive to tissues and organs and is the very thing that leads every single body to its eventual demise.
Fatigue, weight gain, bloating, muscle pain, joint pain, numbness, headaches, brain fog, skin conditions, PMS, asthma, allergies, MS, Hashimoto, lupus, Celiac, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s… All of these have one underlying factor in common: chronic inflammation. Luckily, chronic inflammation is not difficult to manage. Read on to find out how.
Inflammation: the Do’s, the Don’ts and the Why’s
We all know that inflammation can be healing. Remember the time you had an injury or an infection caused by some virus or bacteria? Swelling, fever, pain and redness would have been some of the acute inflammatory signs. These are caused by white blood cells rapidly moving into the affected area in order to protect tissues from pathogens and damage. The process lasts a few weeks while the body gets over the trauma, and then everything goes back to normal. Thus, acute inflammation is a pretty good mechanism to have in our healing tool box.
However, there is another inflammatory scenario, one where chronic inflammation sets in and starts burning our body. This type of inflammation is not healing as it usually takes place in the absence of pathogens or injuries. In this case, the immune system mistakenly activates a destructive type of blood cells, and they start to eat at tissues and organs. Importantly, chronic inflammation does not produce acute symptoms, so we can become used to it while our body is being set on fire and gets gradually burnt down.
Now, how would you know you might have chronic inflammation? Well, pretty much any chronic condition or complaint can be traced back to it: fatigue, weight gain, bloating, muscle pain, joint pain, numbness, headaches, brain fog, acne, eczema, psoriasis, PMS, polycystic ovaries, IBS, Crohn’s, celiac, asthma, allergies, cancer, lupus, MS, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s… As you can see, the list is practically endless. To sum up, if you suffer anything chronically, your body is most likely experiencing chronic inflammation.
Luckily, chronic inflammation can be managed extremely successfully with life style changes. Here, you only have two rules to follow. First, remove the substances and habits that cause inflammation. Second, add substances and habits that are anti-inflammatory. In that order! For instance, knowing that smoking is pro-inflammatory while meditation is anti-inflammatory, you can’t hope to reduce inflammation by meditating between smokes. You have to give up smoking first, and that will account for 80% of your results. Then you can take up meditation to add the final 20%.
Now, let’s look at the main things that trigger chronic inflammation:
- Sugar, grains, starch, soy, seed oils, processed foods, alcohol and cigarettes
- Excess weight
- Some cosmetics and environmental chemicals
- Stress, anger, worry, aggravated relationships
- Late dinners and late nights
Conversely, here is a list of things that reduce chronic inflammation:
- Turmeric, ginger, garlic
- Vitamins and other anti-oxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, Boswellia
- Meditation and other stress reducing practices
- Skipping dinner, going to bed early, exercising appropriately
Importantly, if you want to address chronic inflammation, start at the top of the list working your way down. Start with your diet! Remove the anti-inflammatory foods first. Adding garlic to your take-away dinner plate and washing your sugary desert down with a multi-vitamin smoothie simply won’t cut it. You need to roll up your sleeves and take the junk out of your life. Make room first and then start adding anti-inflammatory goodies. Granted, the process may seem difficult in the beginning. But the more you do it, the more you would want to do it, as you will be charging your body with strength, vitality and life force.