One question I see almost daily is “What is inflammation….exactly?”
Inflammation is one of those trendy words that seems to be everywhere today. And, many of my readers / clients are confused by the contradictory information they see. So, thought we’d kick off our week with an overview and some ideas about treating it with food and movement!
Inflammation happens when your body’s white blood cells and the things they make protect you from infection from outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.
But in some diseases, like arthritis, your body’s defense system — your immune system– triggers inflammation when there are no invaders to fight off. In these autoimmune diseases, your immune system acts as if regular tissues are infected or somehow unusual, causing damage.
TYPES OF INFLAMMATION
Inflammation can be either short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic). Acute inflammation goes away within hours or days. Chronic inflammation can last months or years, even after the first trigger is gone. Conditions linked to chronic inflammation include:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
HOW IS INFLAMMATION DIAGNOSED?
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam, focusing on:
- The pattern of painful joints and whether there are signs of inflammation
- Whether your joints are stiff in the morning
- Any other symptoms
They’ll also look at the results of X-rays and blood tests for biomarkers such as:
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
SO, HOW CAN WE TREAT INFLAMMATION? DRUGS? SURGERY?
Before jumping into any sort of treatment plan, I suggest spending some time with your physician or medical provider. As always, there are many things to consider prior to making a final decision. That being said, I’d like to share some things you can do at home to lessen the symptoms of inflammation.
Some ways to ease long-term inflammation include:
- Quit smoking.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Manage stress.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Try supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, white willow bark, curcumin, green tea, or capsaicin. Magnesium and vitamins B6, C, D, and E also have some anti-inflammatory effects. Talk with your doctor before starting any supplement.
Of course, the things we eat and drink can also play a role in improving inflammation. Here are some good foods for consideration:
- Olive oil
- Leafy green vegetables (spinach, collards)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts)
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)
- Fruits (berries, oranges)
A few foods to avoid:
- Refined carbohydrates (white bread)
- Fried foods (French fries)
- Sugary drinks (soda)
- Red and processed meats (beef, hot dogs)
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
If you think you may be affected by inflammation, schedule some time with your medical provider to confirm. Or, you can try a few of these small changes to diet and movement and see how it feels. Leave a comment to schedule a consultation with me about your concerns!
Do you suffer from inflammation? How have you treated your symptoms? Medication? Surgery? Diet change?
Stay well and eat real foods,