Rheumatoid Arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, cancer… the list goes on.
The answer is Inflammation.
As I research my health posts for this blog, I keep seeing the term ‘inflammation’ in regards to our health. But, what is it and what’s its significance?
For starters, the word, ‘inflammation’, is derived from the Latin, ‘inflammatio’, which means, set on fire.
Inflammation is a natural process. White blood cells are sent to the area of your body, where it is either injured or under attack from invaders like bacteria and viruses; to heal or neutralise/kill the invaders.
All perfectly normal. You even experience an inflammatory response after exercise or even after a meal!
However, this response is only meant to be short-term, where anything goes back to normal when the injury or illness has been dealt with.
It’s when your body keeps continuously producing this response for long-term periods, it becomes a problem. Even when there’s nothing for your body to fight off.
Inflammation is quite a new area for scientists to study but, it is understood that, if it’s long-term, your body’s immune system is tricked into attacking its own soft tissues, as though they are invaders. Unfortunately, this could lead to soft tissue destruction and you developing chronic conditions, as mentioned in the start of this post.
Chronic inflammation has also been linked to cancer, because of its long-term damage to DNA, which causes problems in your cells replicating themselves. The dodgy cells will self-replicate, instead of the normal cells.
Lifestyle habits that are linked to causing Inflammation
Vaping and E-cigs, when used, cause spikes in the inflammation levels in your body.
A poor diet.
According to the Harvard Medical School, some studies have shown that foods like white bread, processed meat and drinks like alcohol and soft drinks can increase inflammation.
Poor sleep can affect inflammation levels but conversely, inflammation can trigger sleep disorders!
However, the most common cause is thought to be prolonged, psychological stress.
Foods that may have an anti-inflammatory effect in your body includes:
- Brown rice.
- Leafy green vegetables.
- Spices like turmeric, ginger and cayenne.
- Dark chocolate.
- Foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flaxseeds, eggs and soya beans.
And drink lots of water.
Foods that you may need to reduce or avoid:
- Dairy products.
- Red processed meat.
- Soft drinks.
Exercise is another strategy to use for reducing inflammation. It has been found that a 20-minute session of moderate exercise can trigger an anti-inflammatory response in your body.
So. Just to be clear, inflammation is a natural response in your body to protect you and alert you to anything that is wrong. Short-term inflammation is unlikely to cause any ill health and without it, you wouldn’t know if anything IS wrong.
It’s chronic inflammation that is harmful.
Luckily, you have some control in it getting worse. By eating relatively healthily and by exercising, for a start.
Now, I know it’s easy to say, ‘Don’t be stressed,’ but if you suffer from too much of it, then maybe the following could help to manage it.
- Exercise. It helps me.
- Talking to someone you trust.
- Saying, ‘No.’
If you’re overwhelmed by your stress, then please consider seeing your doctor.
Sources: bustle.com, nutriadvanced.co.uk, wellandgood.com, livescience.com, magazine.vitality.co.uk, healthline.com