We may only think about inflammation as a negative thing, but it’s designed to be a protective immune response to stress, illness, or injury. It’s a necessary function of our bodies, but when it’s unwarranted or prolonged, it can negatively impact our overall health and well-being. Inflammation can be a vicious cycle in that your body’s many systems can cause it, and it can affect your body’s many systems. In functional medicine, we believe one cause has many conditions and one condition has many causes. Inflammation is an example of a cause with many conditions. Examples of this include heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and depression. Read on to learn more about inflammation and what you can do to prevent it.
When our immune systems perceive something it deems a threat or responds to illness, it springs into action and tries to trap bacteria so the body can begin healing itself. This often leads to pain, bruising, swelling, or even internal signs you can’t see or readily recognize. Inflammation is acute (temporary) or chronic (slowly progressing and long term).
Acute inflammation signs include flushed skin, swelling, pain, or tenderness, while chronic inflammation signs include fatigue, fever, joint pain, skin rashes, or chest pain.
Some lifestyle factors such as the following can increase your risk of inflammation.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Unresolved trauma
- A high body mass index (BMI)
- Too much or too little exercise
- Chronic stress
How to Help Prevent Inflammation
There are steps we can take to help our bodies fight off inflammation.
1. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
What you eat greatly affects how your body feels and how well it reacts to stressors, so keeping a healthy diet of anti-inflammatory foods can make a big difference. These foods include leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, fatty fish, and fruit, to name just a few.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
In addition to adding the foods above to your diet, you should consider reducing or cutting your consumption of red meat, fried or processed foods, or anything cooked with trans fats like margarine or corn oil. Sugar is the biggest culprit in terms of causing inflammation in the body. We recommend limiting sugar to less than 30 grams of added sugar per day.
Control Your Blood Sugar
Maintaining healthy blood sugar is another way to help your body fight inflammation. One way to do this is to eliminate or reduce white foods such as flour, rice, refined sugar, pasta, bread, and anything made with high fructose corn syrup. Additionally, food sequencing helps to maintain blood sugar regulation. Did you know that eating protein and fiber before eating carbohydrates has been shown to improve glycemic control in diabetics by up to 70%?
2. Make Time to Exercise
Being physically active helps prevent inflammation. Regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a few times a week can help your body tremendously.
You should do whatever exercises and weight training you enjoy, but these are some of the most effective for fighting inflammation.
- Brisk walking
- Aerobic exercise
- Bike riding
3. Keep a Healthy Weight
Being obese puts you at a higher risk of developing unhealthy inflammation. Research has shown that losing excess weight can help your body ward off inflammation and even reverse it.
4. Reduce Stress
We can’t control the fact that we encounter stress as humans, but we can change our response. Chronic unmanaged stress contributes to inflammation and mental health issues, including anxiety. Incorporate meditation or yoga to help control your stress throughout the day.
Chronic stress can also stem from unresolved trauma from your past. Healing from this will allow you to reverse inflammation and prevent it in the future. Our whole-person approach utilizes counseling to guide you through the internal healing process.
Faithfully Guided Is Your Whole Person Health Partner
Inflammation can happen without us even knowing it, causing uncomfortable symptoms that can make us miserable. But being aware of the risk factors and taking these easy appropriate steps to prevent and reverse inflammation can make all the difference. And to feel your best in every way, reach out to the team at Faithfully Guided, where we treat your whole person so you can live an abundant life.