Inflammation is an important part of the body’s healthy response to injury and infection; however, research has suggested that it may also be at the root of many health conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and atherosclerosis.
When Is Inflammation Good?
Inflammation is part of the body’s response to infection and tissue damage, and it is crucial to the healing process. It is also a protective reaction involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators, intended to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and initiate tissue repair. There are two classes of inflammation: acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is the “good” inflammation that fends off foreign invaders and heals injuries. If an inflammatory response flares up and then dies down, there’s nothing to worry about.
Take strength training for example. When we train we are essentially breaking down tissue via tiny microscopic tears. This can leave us with sometimes painful, tender spots in the muscles and joints. This is a form of inflammation and the body responds by repairing the broken down tissue not only to the point of where it was, but even more so as the body’s goal is to prevent it from happening again. This process is at the heart of muscle gain. We MUST break tissue down in order to gain muscle.
When Inflammation Is Bad.
When inflammation is prolonged, this is considered chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can be a symptom that causes problems of its own. It has been implicated in the muscle loss that occurs with ageing (which is why resistance training is extremely beneficial) as well as in obesity.
Chronic inflammation may result when:
- The body is unable to eliminate an agent causing acute inflammation, such as a food sensitivity
- Exposure to low levels of a particular irritant or irritants cannot be eliminated, such as toxic elements or environmental pollutants
- An autoimmune disorder is present
- Chronic stress is present.
Identifying the cause of your chronic inflammation is the first step in determining the path to a healthier you.
What Factors Can Cause Chronic Inflammation?
Several things can cause chronic inflammation, including:
- untreated causes of acute inflammation, such as an infection or injury
- an auto-immune disorder which involves your immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue
- long-term exposure to irritants, such as industrial chemicals or polluted air
Experts also believe that a range of factors may also contribute to chronic inflammation, such as:
- chronic stress
- processed foods and sugars
I think that list is important to take note of. ALL of those listed are in OUR control. All can be addressed without the need for doctors and medication and if you’re feeling as though you are in a state of constant inflammation, then those diet and lifestyle choices should be the FIRST place you look to.
Foods To Eat
A variety of foods have anti-inflammatory properties. These include foods that are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, such as:
- olive oil
- leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
- fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel
- fruits, especially cherries, blueberries, and oranges
Foods To Avoid
- refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- fried foods, such as French fries
- processed meat, such as hot dogs and sausage
The Bottom Line
Chronic inflammation increases your risk of several serious diseases. Eating an anti-inflammation diet can help you reduce your risk of inflammation. Avoiding smoking and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy body weight can also help lower your risk, along with reducing your stress levels.