Is inflammation affecting you?
Inflammation – a word we hear commonly, but do you really understand what it is and how it manifests in the body? There are in fact different types of inflammation and it doesn’t always spell out disaster. Read on for everything you need to know about inflammation, how it may be affecting you without you realising, and the best foods to reduce your inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a protective defence mechanism of our immune system which responds when foreign invaders or substances are detected. There are different types of inflammation, acute, shorter lasting, and chronic which is longer lasting.
Acute inflammation is usually beneficial and short lived. Inflammation increases the blood flow and certain immune cells to the damaged part of the body and starts the healing process (when you graze you knee or break a bone, for example). Signs of inflammation include swelling, heat, pain, redness and temporary immobility (at the sight of inflammation).
Chronic inflammation refers to long-term low-grade inflammation. This is usually caused by failure to eliminate what’s causing the acute inflammation, the body mistaking its own tissues as pathogens (autoimmune diseases) and low level but prolonged exposure to irritants (such as chemicals or toxins from the workplace or home). The signs of chronic inflammation can be less noticeable but can include pain, fatigue, mouth sores, chest pain, join pain and rashes.
What contributes to chronic inflammation?
- Chronic stress
- High intakes of sugar and caffeine
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Physical inactivity
- Over exercising
- Inadequate sleep
- Excess alcohol
- Obesity (fat cells, especially around the organs, secrete inflammation cells)
Diseases associated with inflammation
Inflammation can be an underlying cause and mediator in many diseases. These include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Allergies and intolerance
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Some cancers
Foods to reduce inflammation
So, as you can see, inflammation may be going on ‘behind the scenes’, without any overt signs, but over time symptoms and diseases may start to appear. Including anti-inflammatory foods into your diet regularly can really support your body and reduce your inflammation. Along with dietary interventions, reducing your exposure to substances contributing to the inflammation can be really helpful.
- Omega 3 fats (found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring)
- Fruits and vegetables (especially deep and brightly coloured veg – think berries and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach)
- Green Tea
- Herbs such as turmeric and ginger
- Fibrous foods such as lentils, beans and chickpeas, flaxseed
- A Mediterranean style diet (low in red meat, high in fish, oils, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables)
Diet needs to be personalised, so find what works for you, but including some of the foods above into your diet regularly can be supportive to the body.
*** This blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for seeking professional medical advice, medications, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided here is general and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases or conditions. Please contact your GP or private health consultant if you have any personal health concerns or consult a registered nutritional therapist for personalised dietary and lifestyle advice and guidance.