HOW TO CON­TROL IN­FLAM­MA­TION

AL­MOST EV­ERY DISEASED STATE IS ROOTED IN IN­FLAM­MA­TION, BUT YOU CAN TAKE STEPS TO COUNTER IT.

LOSE IT! - - Contents - BY NU­TRI­TIONAL THER­A­PIST SALLY-ANN CREED

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.

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