What To Do About Inflammation

Curing your pain and inflammation can be difficult and when I was about 30 years old, I was in the worst shape of my life and felt terrible. I had trouble concentrating, my body hurt and I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything.

I was raised with a strong work ethic so I trudged through, but every day seemed like a struggle.

Eventually, I became so fed up with how I felt that I decided to get to the bottom of it. After significant research, I determined that the symptoms I suffered from were likely caused by inflammation. I also discovered that I wasn’t the only one; loads of people were in the same boat. And

what’s worse? Many people don’t know they have it and treat the symptoms as a normal part of life and the aging process and something to simply endure. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce the grip inflammation has on your life. I know, because after changing my diet, my symptoms disappeared. More on that later.

Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of subtle signs that you might have inflammation as well as some simple things you might do to get rid of it and live a healthier, fitter, more energetic life.

But, before we get into that, it’s important to understand a bit about inflammation—hint: it’s not entirely bad—and how too much of it can lead to severe health issues down the road.

What Is Inflammation?

Merriam-Webster dictionary describes inflammation as “a local response to cellular injury that is marked by capillary dilatation, leukocytic infiltration, redness, heat, and pain and that serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue.”

Essentially, that means that inflammation is the body’s way of managing injury or illness.

Have you ever noticed how your lymph nodes become swollen when you don’t feel well? That’s a form of inflammation, and an indicator that the body’s doing its job to fight off a bug.

While inflammation is an important part of the body’s immune response, problems arise when this response doesn’t shut off. In this case, the chemicals your body releases that are supposed to attack and destroy harmful bacteria or infection go after healthy cells and tissues.

Everyday Causes of Inflammation

In some cases, inflammation is due to genetics or some other faulty mechanism within the body. However, daily habits and nutrition choices can cause you to become inflamed. Those include, but are not limited to:

* Alcohol

* Smoking

* Inadequate sleep

* Overweight and obesity

* Poor dietary choices or allergic reactions to certain foods

* Exposure to toxins

* External stressors like work, relationship issues, bills, etc.

Left unchecked, chronic inflammation may result in major conditions like heart disease, some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and disorders that cause progressive and irreversible central nervous system damage. The Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, goes so far as to suggest that “uncontrolled inflammation plays a role in almost every major disease, including cancerheart diseasediabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression.”

Bottom line? Chronic inflammation is bad for you.

Some Signs of Inflammation

Now that you know a bit more about inflammation and the risks associated with chronic inflammation, let’s get into why you’re here, which is to understand some of the subtle signs of inflammation.

The Muffin Top

In a study published in Diabetes, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis determined that fat cells in the abdomen secrete molecules that increase inflammation. They specifically blamed visceral fat—that deeper stuff that surrounds the organs—for producing inflammatory cytokines, which have been associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more.

Fatigue

Do you find yourself reaching for coffee after coffee throughout the day? Your constant consumption may have more to do with inflammation than a love of espresso. A thorough examination in Arthritis Research & Therapy explains that fatigue is likely the result of inflammation.

Depression

Depression is no laughing matter and should not be taken lightly. While experts suggest myriad causes for the challenging condition, the same Arthritis Research & Therapy report mentioned above found that some patients who experience depression also had high levels of inflammatory cytokines in their systems.

Stomach Problems

An upset, overactive stomach, bowel problems and painful bloat—also known as irritable bowel syndrome—is another indicator that you might be overly inflamed. In an article published on EverydayHealth.com, Lin Chang, MD, director of the Digestive Health and Nutrition Clinic and a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA supports this statement. She explains that inflammation may cause changes in secretions or the way the bowel moves or experiences pain.

Redness of the Skin

Do you have red, blotchy skin? What looks like a random sunburn that never goes away might mean that you’re burning up inside. And those with psoriasis—a skin disease linked with inflammation and marked by red, itchy, scaly patches—have a higher risk of various metabolic diseases, heart attack and stroke.

Allergies

Stuffed-up noses, constant sneezing and red, itchy eyes may be a due to a genetic predisposition for some. For others, inflammation could be a likely culprit. Some researchers say that it all starts with stress—psychological and/or physical. Whether due to that demanding boss or from chemical-laden “treats” we consume, the body releases a variety of hormones to manage stress and deal with toxicity. Over time, repeated exposure to stressors and a lack of stress management can lead to overactive allergic cells.

Joint Pain

Excessive inflammation has long been associated with joint problems. According to the Arthritis Foundation, joint inflammation can take the form of “pain, swelling, tenderness and warmth in the joints, as well as morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour.”

The foundation adds that this stems from a faulty immune system that releases inflammatory chemicals that attack joint tissues.

Itchiness

Do you find yourself constantly itching and scratching? There are many reasons for this, and inflammation could be one of them. A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Science explains, “Itch results from activation of cutaneous nerve endings by noxious stimuli such as inflammatory mediators, neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, causing itch signal transduction from peripheral skin, through the spinal cord and thalamus, to the brain cortex.”

How I Beat Inflammation

When I discovered that I likely suffered from inflammation and that it could be linked to the food I ate, I decided to make nutrition changes and adopt some of the principles of the paleo diet. At first, that meant cutting out dairy and sugar, which resulted in near immediate improvements in my mood, mental acuity and weight.

So, I decided to go full paleo.

Within 2 months, I dropped 35 pounds, went from 14% body fat to 7%, my allergies and join pain disappeared, my energy levels soared and my mind was sharp as a tack. I knew that these improvements directly correlated to food.

It’s important to note that these results are my own and do not illustrate causation, however it is uncanny that these improvements took place after going paleo. I have also been witness to countless others who have seen similar success through dietary changes.

What I can say with complete certainty is that I will stick to this diet for the long haul.

Fight Inflammation With Food

As mentioned, one way to eradicate inflammation is to take a hard look at your diet and determine if changes need to be made.

According to Harvard Medical School, the following are some of the foods may cause inflammation:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard

The following foods have anti-inflammatory properties:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

Other Ways to Dampen the Fire

Food is certainly a major factor when it comes to inflammation, but there are other life choices that may affect it. Here are some other things you can do to return your body to homeostasis:

* Get more sleep. A report from Biological Psychiatry found that inadequate sleep can trigger a pro-inflammatory response. They suggest that getting that nightly eight can have the opposite effect.

* Take a hike. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with inflammation. So, spending time in nature and soaking up some rays on a regular basis can help.

* Work out the knots. As if you needed more reasons to put that massage on your to-do list. A study out of Cedars-Sanai in Los Angeles found that subjects who got a regular rubdown experienced a “notable decrease” in most cytokines. 

* Hit the gym. The benefits of exercise are many. It turns out that regular physical activity is associated with lower markers of inflammation.

* Meditate. Meditation is often used to reduce stress levels and gain clarity. A study published in Biological Psychiatry shows that a regular practice can reduce inflammatory disease risk.

Inflammation is a pervasive and uncomfortable state. But it doesn’t have to be a part of your life. Hopefully this post has shed light on the condition and can help you take the next steps toward feeling better and living more vibrantly.

By:  Heath Squier :   Julian Bakery, Inc. 

NOTE: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 If you’re concerned that you might have chronic inflammation, it’s best to speak to your primary care physician about it. Your doctor is equipped to perform evaluations to determine inflammation levels.

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