Inflammatory and degenerative diseases are on the rise and occurring in younger and younger people. Inflammation is a protective attempt by the body to remove the foreign invadors like bacteria, viruses and toxins and to initiate the healing process from infections and injuries. Short-term, temporary inflammation is important and essential to life. However, chronic inflammation is bad and causes disease.
Chronic inflammation is the common link to inflammatory diseases like asthma, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and autoimmune disease. Diseases like heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and dementia have a common link of chronic inflammation and diseases like diabetes feed the fire of chronic inflammation. A blood test called C-Reactive Protein (CRP), when elevated, is a sign of chronic inflammation. The process of inflammation has many contributing factors which “stoke the fire”. Here are some ways you can put out that fire.
- Stop smoking. Smoking causes chronic inflammation and hardens the arteries. Research shows you can reverse all the damaging effects to your arteries within 5-10 years of quitting.
- Eat less omega-6 fats: Oils like cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut, and soy are higher in omega-6 fats. Oils like olive, avocado, walnut, and macadamia are lower in omega-6. Read food labels: processed foods like cracker, cookies, and granola bars typically use high omega-6 oils. Better yet, don’t eat processed foods.
- Eat more omega-3 fats from fish, and nuts. People who eat a Mediterranean-style diet—based on fruits, vegetables, seafood, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil—can lower levels of inflammation.
- Avoid “toxins” in foods like pesticides, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and trans-fats.
- Get active. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation. Aim for five days a week of steady exercise (brisk walking, swimming, biking) for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Shrink your waist size. Take a tape measure and measure your waist, right around the point of your bellybutton. If you’re a woman with a waist measurement of over 35 inches or a man with a waist of over 40 inches, you probably have high inflammation. You can reduce your waist circumference by reducing your food portions, clean eating and exercise.
- Get enough sleep. Research has shown that too little sleep (less than six hours) or too much (more than eight hours) results in more inflammation. Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep. If you struggle with insomnia, read about the 7 Steps to Fighting Insomnia.
- Reduce stress. High levels of stress hormones can lead to the release of excess inflammatory chemicals. Schedule 15 minutes of relaxation into your schedule every day —deep breathing, meditation, prayer, yoga, music or Tai Chi. If you make this a priority, you will be more productive and less stressed. Read more about the stress response…
- Get your teeth cleaned regularly: Gum disease increases your risk for heart disease likely through the link of chronic inflammation. Those who have inflammation should have dental cleaning every 3 months.
- If you have chronic inflammation or inflammatory diseases:
- Consider a trial of avoiding “nightshade” vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes) which can cause inflammation in some people. Read more about nightshades…
- Cook with anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric
- Consider supplementing with herbs such as CurcuPlex (Curcumin from Turmeric) or Boswellia/Willow Bark such as Saloxicin