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5 Essential Ways To Fight Inflammation
If regulated and under control, inflammation is an important component of the immune system function which is necessary for fighting pathogens and healing from injuries.
The symptoms of acute inflammation, redness, swelling and pain, are noticeable. Chronic inflammation has more subtle symptoms. If not addressed, it can spread throughout the body and have damaging effects on our health. Almost every chronic disease, from diabetes, heart disease, depression, digestive issues to fatigue and brain fog is linked to inflammation.
When the root cause has been addressed and cleared away, as in the case of a virus or an allergic reaction, the inflammation subsides and everything goes back to normal. However, if the inflammatory process goes on for too long or if it occurs in places where it is not needed, that becomes problematic.
A combination of multiple factors is often found to be the cause of chronic inflammation, such as poor diet, food sensitivities, exposure to toxins, nutritional deficiencies, gut imbalances, certain medications, inadequate sleep, chronic stress, a sedentary lifestyle, or low grade infections.
Here’s what you can do to help fight chronic inflammation:
1. Diet. Avoid processed food, sugars, and packaged foods. Opt for dark leafy greens, wild-caught salmon, sardines, mushrooms, almonds, whole grains, healthy fat sources. Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Rosemary, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, clove, black pepper are well known anti-inflammatory spices.
2. Remove toxins from your food and environment. Most conventional food production uses pesticides, which exposes us to different levels of pesticide residues. Knowing when to choose organic versus conventional produce is extremely important. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a guide of the items most important to buy organic – find it by Googling “EWG Shopper’s Guide.” Also be sure to choose non-toxic, natural cleaning products for your house.
3. Exercise. Studies have shown a strong relationship between regular exercise and reductions in low-grade chronic inflammation. Move and stay active and make realistic fitness goals that best fit your schedule and ability.
4. Stress Management. Chronic, high levels of stress can have a damaging effect on health. Removing ourselves from toxic, stressful situations and relationships when possible, walks in nature, practicing yoga and or meditation can be extremely beneficial for lowering our levels of inflammation.
5. Sleep. Poor sleep triggers inflammation. The best way to maintain good sleep hygiene is by having a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime, and maintaining a healthy sleep environment.
Work with your functional medicine doctor to guide you through a personalized, targeted approach to identify the causes of inflammation in your body and to achieve better health.