Q: What is inflammation, and how do I reduce it?
A: Acute inflammation is a natural healing and protection response from our immune system. Think of your ankle swelling from an accidental roll on the tennis court. The body floods the joint with plasma and immune repair cells to inhibit movement so the soft tissue can mend. Or, perhaps you get a seasonal runny nose when pollens enter your sinus and the mucous membranes swell and release antibodies to remove the unwanted threat that your body deems dangerous. In both these instances, the immune system creates inflammation in a response to danger or injury. This is healthy.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is not healthy
Chronic Inflammation is the root cause of 75-90% of today’s illnesses (according to the Cleveland Clinic). If our immune system is continuously taxed as it fights to remove incoming viruses, bacteria, antigens, chemicals or plastics, we can trigger stress on our organs and endocrine (hormone) system.
Research is now seeing Chronic Inflammation as the underlying stress leading to heart disease, metabolic disease, cancers, and even depression and anxiety. The same triggers that lead to ongoing inflammation are also seen as potential contributors to autoimmune illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism), and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBS). And, autoimmune diseases also create more inflammation as the body’s immune cells get confused and start attacking the body instead of the intruders.
Unmanaged stress from trauma, whether psycho-emotional or physical is a key factor in inflammation. Research is showing an extremely strong connection between the nervous system, hormonal system, and immune systems. Chronic stressors that come into the body through the digestive, and respiratory systems, or absorbed through the skin like toxic chemicals, food allergens, or bacteria have an easier time defeating a suppressed immune system when cortisol is continuously elevated.
It all may sound a bit of doom and gloom, but fear not! Here are a few strategies to support your immune system and lower inflammation. Some of these strategies are also beneficial to those suffering from autoimmune illnesses to support a state of remission.
How to Reduce Inflammation
- Support the eliminatory system with a fiber and probiotic-rich plant-based diet, and lots of fresh water
- Minimize the ‘sour 8’ foods (gluten, lactose, casein, soy, corn syrup, alcohol, sugar, nightshade vegetables) and other unique dietary antigens, after having a food sensitivity test by a certified Naturopathic ND
- Consider mineral supplements like vitamin D and C to support immune cells and the B’s to lower stress
- Add anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, for example, turmeric, omega 3 oil, brassica vegetables, and sauerkraut
- Get regular exercise and target 10,000 steps a day to keep the circulatory system moving toxins out of the body
- Sleep deeply and regularly 7-9 hrs, as deep non-REM sleep is when the immune system goes to work
- Intermittent fast for 12 hrs between dinner and breakfast allowing cells to ‘clean-up and recycle’ via autophagy
- Manage mental and psycho-emotional stress with meditation, nature immersion, massage, and somatic therapy
- Avoid petrochemicals, pesticides, and plastics as much as possible, as most are considered hormone disruptors
- Support your eliminatory system to release toxic chemistry with infrared saunas or steams, massage and chelation foods like cilantro and spirulina
We hope that this gives you a good understanding of what causes inflammation in the body and how to reduce it.
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