HOW TO CONTROL INFLAMMATION
ALMOST EVERY DISEASED STATE IS ROOTED IN INFLAMMATION, BUT YOU CAN TAKE STEPS TO COUNTER IT.
Take steps to counter it
Inflammation is a biological, protective response that’s designed to tackle damage, pathogens or irritants in a short-term process. But factors in modern lifestyles lead to chronic inflammation, which is the basis for many diseases. Medical researchers have even coined the term ‘inflammaging’ to describe the inflammatory conditions that start to manifest as we age. Risk factors include high stress and lack of stress management; lack of restorative sleep; lack of exercise; bad lifestyle choices, such as drinking, smoking, and destructive behaviours that include recreational drug taking, bad sleep habits, and bad food choices.
Chronic inflammation interferes with the body’s natural antiinflammatory mechanisms, such as the stress hormone cortisol, which is designed to stop substances being released in the body that cause inflammation. However, when it is released continually, it raises blood sugar levels and creates an inflammatory cascade – your body’s immune system and anti-inflammatory mechanisms are always switched on, which hampers your ability to fight disease. Managing stress is key to controlling the inflammatory process.
During sleep your body repairs and heals itself in ways it cannot when you are awake. Restorative sleep is essential to reduce inflammation, a certain amount of which is just a by-product of being alive. Make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature and completely dark, and try to get to sleep early as often as possible. At least seven to eight hours a night is optimum. Don’t keep your phone in the bedroom. Avoid chemical sprays such as air fresheners and plug-in mosquito repellents as these toxins will need to be eliminated, which wastes energy that should go towards repairing the body. If you don’t consume liquids after 7pm you should be able to last the night without getting up to go to the loo.
Chronic inflammation interferes with the body’s natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms, such as the stress hormone cortisol.
Exercise in excess can be inflammatory but moderate exercise is not. Sitting all day – such as at work – also creates an inflammatory state. Get up and move around and hike on the weekend, walk daily or garden.
Food can push you either way – into an antiinflammatory or inflammatory cascade. Refined food (‘finer’ than the way nature presents it) always comes at a price, and almost always inflames. Inflammatory food also causes weight gain.
In contrast, feed your body healthy food and you won’t need to worry too much about inflammation. Almost all fresh vegetables and certain types of fruit are anti-inflammatory if prepared correctly – especially green, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, pineapple and garlic, as well as coconut oil, chia seeds and eggs. Free range or pasture-fed animal protein does the same – but not meat from feedlot animals that are grain fed. Healthy fats are antiinflammatory while man-made fats and seed oils are pro-inflammatory. Saturated fat from animals is not inflammatory – it is a stable, naturally occurring form of fat that is needed by every cell of the body.
Your attitude is equally important: sustained anger and a negative attitude inflame both body and brain. On the flipside, an upbeat attitude, sunny disposition and thinking positive thoughts have the opposite effect.