The Fire Within is Not Always Good
5 simple lifestyle changes to relieve inflammation
How would you respond if a physician asked, “Do you suffer from low-grade inflammation?” Your response may be, “Huh? I dunno. What are the signs?”
Achy joints, sore muscles, fatigue, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight gain, and fat accumulation are just a few indications that your body is feeling neglected and inflamed.
Two forms of inflammation exist – acute and chronic. While inflammation receives plenty of criticism, it isn’t all bad. Acute inflammation is needed as the body’s natural response to healing. It helps white blood cells and other chemicals repair tissue or wounds. Complications with inflammation occur when it becomes chronic. Prolonged inflammation can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health ailments.
If that warning is not enough to get your attention, maybe this will:
Chronic inflammation is making you age faster.
It’s true… chronic inflammation (even low-grade) is one of the three leading causes of accelerated aging. In other words, if you ignore inflammatory triggers, your biological age will rapidly outpace your chronological age… meaning, you will be physically older than your years. This is because inflammation contributes to the shortening of your telomeres.
How does chronic inflammation develop? Several different factors can produce unwanted inflammation in the body, including lack of exercise, nutrient deficiencies, a diet rich in refined foods, and poor lifestyle choices.
Lose extra pounds
Obesity is considered an inflammatory condition. Overweight individuals have higher levels of C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, leptin, and other inflammatory biomarkers that cause cardiovascular and diabetes risks.1,2 The accumulation of fat, or adipose tissue, is associated with low-grade inflammation.3 Furthermore, foods high in sugar, which influence weight gain, increase the glycemic load and C-reactive protein levels in the body to cause metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular issues.4
Start moving now
When you are moving and exercising, your muscles release anti-inflammatory compounds into the blood to help modify the inflammatory response. Lack of exercise or movement can directly contribute to low-grade inflammation.5,6,7Reduce inflammation by moving your body on a daily basis. Most of our time is spent sitting, which decreases blood circulation and increases fatigue. You don’t need to climb a mountain or run a marathon, but moderate exercise – walking, swimming, biking, etc. – on a daily basis can help you feel great.
What are you eating?
Stop eating processed, refined foods. Saturated fat, sugar, trans fats, and preservatives found in the majority of pre-packaged and fast foods contribute to inflammation. A diet high in saturated and trans fats and low in antioxidants can damage blood vessel walls to cause an immune response related to inflammation and the development of cardiovascular ailments.8,9,10 Low-grade inflammation in older individuals has been shown to contribute to fat accumulation, insulin resistance, and inflammatory-related diseases.11
So, you’re saying I have to stop eating to get rid of inflammation? Nope. You can reduce inflammation with food. Just choose the foods that give your body fuel and promote healing.
Pack in antioxidants
Antioxidant-rich foods should be a main part of every meal. Fruits and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients that help reduce free radicals and prevent tissue damage that triggers an inflammatory response. Make sure you are eating more vegetables than fruit, and eat fruit separately from your regular meals. Spices, such as turmeric and ginger, are also high in antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation.
Goodbye pesky viral and bacterial infections
Another cause of low-grade inflammation is bacterial and viral infections. Chlamydia pneumonia, a bacterial type of pneumonia, can cause inflammation in the cardiovascular system.13 H. pylori that can be found in the GI tract is a common inflammatory-causing bacteria that leads to stomach ulcers.14 Getting rid of infections can lessen the load of inflammation on certain systems in the body. Zinc and vitamin D can help protect against pneumonia, while licorice root, zinc carnosine, probiotics, and cranberry’s can help heal the stomach and reduce the production of H. pylori.15,16,17,18,19,20
1 Das UN. Is obesity an inflammatory condition? Nutrition. 2001 Nov-Dec;17(11-12):953-66.
2 Bastard J, Maachi M, Lagathu C, et al. Recent advances in the relationship between obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. European Cytokine Network. 2006;17:4-12.
3 Kredel LI, Siegmund B. Adipose-tissue and intestinal inflammation – visceral obesity and creeping fat. Front Immunol. 2014 Sep 24;5:462.
4 Liu S, Manson JE, Buring JE, et al. Relation between a diet with a high glycemic load and plasma concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in middle-aged women. American J of Clinical Nutrition. 2002;75:492-8.
5 Bruunsgaard H. Physical activity and modulation of systemic low-level inflammation. J of Leukocyte Biology. 2005;78:819-35.
6 Febbraio MA, Pedersen BK. Muscle-derived interleukin-6: Mechanisms for activation and possible biological roles. FASEB Journal. 2002;16:1335-47.
7 Febbraio MA, Pedersen BK. Contraction-induced myokine production and release: is skeletal muscle an endocrine organ? Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews. 2005;33:114-9.
8 Dow CA, Stauffer BL, Greiner JJ, DeSouza CA. Influence of dietary saturated fat intake on endothelial fibrinolytic capacity in adults. Am J Cardiol. 2014 Sep 1;114(5):783-8.
9 Accinni R, Rosina M, Bamonti F, et al. Effects of combined dietary supplementation on oxidative and inflammatory status in dyslipidemic subjects. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases. 2006;16:121-7.
10 Ford ES, Giles WH, Mokdad AH, Ajani UA. Microalbuminuria and concentrations of antioxidants among US adults. American J of Kidney Diseases: The Official Journal of the National Kidney Foundation. 2005;45:248-55.
11 Pararasa C, Bailey CJ, Griffiths HR. Ageing, adipose tissue, fatty acids and inflammation. Biogerontology. 2014 Nov 4.
12 Ferrucci L, Cherubini A, Bandinelli S, Bartali B, Corsi A, Lauretani F, et al. Relationship of plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids to circulating inflammatory markers. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2006; 91: 439-46.
13 Kaperonis EA, Liapis CD, Kakisis JD, et al. Inflammation and chlamydia pneumoniae infection correlate with the severity of peripheral arterial disease. European J of Vascular & Endovascular Surgery: the official journal of the European Society for Vascular Surgery. 2006;31:509-15.
14 Corrado E, Rizzo M, Tantillo R, et al. Markers of inflammation and infection influence the outcome of patients with baseline asymptomatic carotid lesions: A 5-year follow-up study. Stroke. 2006;37:482-486.
15 Meydani SN, Barnett JB, Dallal GE, et al. Serum zinc and pneumonia in nursing home elderly. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):1167-73.
16 Jovanovich AJ, Ginde AA, Holmen J, et al. Vitamin D level and risk of community-acquired pneumonia and sepsis. Nutrients. 2014 Jun 10;6(6):2196-205.
17 Matsukura T, Tanaka H. Applicability of zinc complex of L-carnosine for medical use. Biochemistry (Mosc.). 2000 Jul;65(7):817-23.
18 O’Mahony R, Al-Khtheeri H, Weerasekera D, et al. Bactericidal and anti-adhesive properties of culinary and medicinal plants against Helicobacter pylori. World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Dec 21;11(47):7499-507.
19 Krausse R, Bielenberg J, Blaschek W, Ullmann U. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of Extractum liquiritiae, glycyrrhizin and its metabolites. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 Jul;54(1):243-6.
20 Burger O, Weiss E, Sharon N, et al. Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric mucus by a high-molecular-weight constituent of cranberry juice. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2002;42(3 Suppl):279-84.