Chronic inflammation has real detrimental effects on our health, linked to the development of heart disease, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. So, what can be done about it?
Inflammation is one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms. When your body gets attacked by a virus your immune system jumps in to save you and producing white blood cells to protect your body from outside invasion and bring you back to health. But what happens when this natural, healthy response gets hijacked?
There are two types of inflammation:
- Acute inflammation
- Chronic inflammation
Acute inflammation is the quick response by your body and plays a role in the healing process. Whereas chronic inflammation is a prolonged inflammatory response which can lead to problems triggered by many things, including lifestyle and environment. It can also be triggered by stress and obesity. So, acute inflammation is a vital part of our immune system, but chronic inflammation can have a deteriorating effect on our health.
The good news is that while certain things in our lifestyles and environments can contribute to inflammation, others can work as anti-inflammatories. Here is a list of our top tips to reduce your risk of chronic inflammation:
Foods to avoid:
- Processed grains and sugars, such as sodas, sugar desserts and cereals
- Deep fried foods, such as French fries and donuts
- Processed meat, such as sausages, hot dogs and deli cold cuts
Foods to eat
There are a number of foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, high in cell nourishment and polyphenols, for example,
- Wide range of fruits and vegetables
- Plant-based sources of protein, like legumes, nuts, seeds
- Unprocessed, whole foods
- High-fiber foods like legumes and whole-grains
- Probiotic foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi
Studies have found that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day can suppress the inflammatory response. So, get your walking shoes on and go outdoors.
When we get psychologically stressed, our bodies try to fight it like
an infection. If that stress is constant, the inflammation can be too.
Plan regular rest into your days and weeks, build a good support
network and try to keep daily stresses in context. Some people do
this by keeping in close contact with their extended family, others do this by prioritizing their social life or being parts of communities like churches or volunteer organizations
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Many researchers now consider excess fat, particularly belly fat, to be hazardous to your health producing significant amounts of hormones and other chemicals, including inflammatory cytokines that can throw the body’s hormone balance off center and lead to chronic inflammation and increased risk of a full range of things like heart disease and insulin resistance. This is one of the reasons why even modest weight loss (i.e. 5-7% of your initial weight) can lead to big improvements in health.
So, our top tips to lower your risk of chronic inflammation are to fill your diet with whole plant foods, being active, keeping your stress levels under control, and working to maintain a healthy weight. And enjoy life!
Get free help to get your back on track – Dr Sal runs a free weekly webinar sharing his years of professional medical experience. Ask him questions and listen to some of his guest speakers.
For more on the lifestyle medicine approach to good health and healing, join us live every Wednesday at 3pm for our Ask Dr. Sal series with Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute.
Join the movement that sees employers, health care systems, hospitals and physicians achieve real and positive health outcomes for their employees and patients. CHIP is the first Certified Lifestyle Medicine Program that has helped thousands of people prevent, halt and even reverse chronic illness.