Inflammation stands in the way of many women’s health and overall wellbeing. Many people think of inflammation as the result of specific wounds or infections, but systemic, low-grade inflammation can be even more dangerous to the body as a whole. Low-grade inflammation is linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer's just to name a few. When the body is constantly fighting inflammation, it can make it difficult to achieve results from a fitness plan and feel your best. Treating low-grade inflammation is essential and possible with proper nutrition, exercise and rest.
What Does Systemic Inflammation Do?
Inflammation occurs when the immune system senses an injury or imbalance in the body. The first response is to activate inflammatory cells to begin fighting the source. It becomes a problem when the system stays on high alert and keeps producing extra inflammatory substances instead of returning to a calm state.
When your body endures low-grade, chronic inflammation, it diverts resources away from digestion, proper metabolism, and other ongoing functions. This makes it so that your body can't get the energy it needs, which results in fatigue, lack of motivation and a reduced desire to work out or perform other physical activity. Sleeping more does not tend to bring about improvements in the situation. Instead, the inflammation must be addressed.
Over time, chronic inflammation can also lead to problems like heart disease, hardened arteries, Alzheimer's disease, and other issues. There are both short- and long-term benefits for reinstating balance and preventing low-grade inflammation.
Can Doctors Test for Inflammation?
Yes. Tests look for markers like C-reactive protein, TNF-alpha, homocysteine, and others are available. Elevated levels of these substances indicate inflammatory processes. Some, like C-reactive protein, are known to be correlated with higher instances of cardiovascular disease. If you suffer from frequent headaches, constipation, chronic fatigue and joint pain it may be a good idea to see a doctor or integrated medicine specialist to address the source of inflammation and work to alleviate the stress on your body.
Reducing Inflammation Through Dietary Intake
Certain foods are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, while others have the opposite effect. Anti-inflammatory foods help to create and maintain a healthy gut microbiome. "Good" gut bacteria help to control toxins in the diet, secrete substances that calm the gut lining, and help to regulate metabolism. By choosing foods that contain many anti-inflammatory properties like pineapple and turmeric, you can help the immune system get some much-needed rest.
The amount of food consumed is also important. Obesity is believed to directly cause generalized inflammation due to the hormones released by an overabundance of fat cells. Weight loss, in and of itself, can be a very effective way to regain balance and calm chronic inflammation.
Foods that Cause Inflammation
Foods that cause and aid inflammation are the usual suspects. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, red meats and fried foods. These foods also contribute directly to insulin resistance and obesity. Foods that contain trans fats also promote inflammation as well as directly damaging the linings of your blood vessels. These are especially prevalent in processed foods, but natural fats that stay solid at room temperature can also contain them.
Eating processed meat or drinking too much alcohol causes inflammation. The same goes for regular consumption of vegetable oils, which exacerbate inflammation due to their imbalance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods that Reduce Inflammation
Whole foods are natural inflammation fighters. Veggies like broccoli, kale, collard greens, and spinach are full of nutrients. Fresh fruits like blueberries, cherries, pineapple, and grapes also contain a gamut of anti-inflammatory chemicals that can help to bolster your immune system and prevent chronic inflammation.
Healthy fats, like those contained in nuts, avocados and fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, and mackerel contain plenty of inflammation-reducing Omega-3 fatty acids.
Spices are also a great source of anti-inflammatory goodness. Turmeric, cinnamon, and fenugreek are great inflammation-reducing spices that can be incorporated into roasted veggie dishes, smoothies and sauces.
By living a healthy lifestyle, drinking plenty of water and keeping your activity level high you can effectively heal yourself from the inside out. When you choose foods that help to manage your immune system and its inflammatory response you feel better, more you. And when your body isn’t in a constant state of internal turmoil you can perform better every day. Check out Kate’s favorite anti-inflammatory foods in her3-day meal plan from Urban Remedy. These whole foods have everything your body needs to help keep your body functioning at its peak and promote the health of your immune system.