The word “inflammation” doesn’t sound like a good thing. It's something we want to avoid – right?
Well, yes and no. According to Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, medical editor from Harvard Health Publishing, inflammation “plays an essential role in healing and injury repair to keep your body safe and healthy.” Inflammation is the way the body fights infections and works toward healing. When the body is injured or becomes sick, white blood cells are released to protect the wounded area and attack any invading bacteria or viruses.
There is a problem, however, when the immune system continues to create white blood cells, not getting the message that their job is done. This is called chronic inflammation and can result in white blood cells attacking healthy organs and tissues.
And yes, chronic inflammation is NOT good. It has been associated with diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
One scientific study, published just last year, pointed to chronic inflammatory disease as being “the most significant cause of death in the world.” The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked chronic diseases as the greatest threat to human health.
Avoiding Chronic Inflammation
So how can we avoid chronic inflammation? Doctors suggest:
- Practice good oral hygiene to avoid gum inflammation.
- Quit smoking. Toxins from cigarette smoke have been directly linked to inflammation.
- Keep your cholesterol in check. High amounts of LDL cholesterol can trigger inflammatory responses in the arteries.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a good diet.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
Do I Have Chronic Inflammation?
How do you know if you are experiencing chronic inflammation? Symptoms of inflammation may include:
- Swollen joints
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Fever, chills, and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
Chronic inflammation can be hard to discover. The best way to determine if you suffer from chronic inflammation is to visit your doctor for an evaluation if you are not feeling well.
When chronic inflammation is a concern your doctor may order blood tests, which measures C-reactive protein(CRP) or Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Either test can indicate if your body is currently dealing with ongoing inflammation.
Treating Chronic Inflammation
If chronic inflammation is diagnosed, your doctor may recommend:
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs that can ease pain and swelling, as well as the inflammation.
- Eliminating or greatly limiting foods high in sugars, processed meats, and refined carbs. Margarine, shortening, and lard as well as fried foods should be avoided.
- Eating more foods high in antioxidants such as berries, onions, and dark green leafy vegetables. Also include tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish.
- Limiting alcohol intake.
- Managing stress.
- Exercise! Regular exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect. One study, in 2017, showed that only 20 minutes of moderate exercise makes a difference when it comes to decreasing inflammation.
- Trying a curcumin supplement. Curcumin has strong anti-inflammatory benefits and fights inflammation at the molecular level. It has similar benefits to anti-inflammatory drugs – without the negative side-effects. Now curcumin supplements are also available in liquid format to allow for a high absorption rate.
Acute inflammation helps protect the body from bacteria and viruses BUT sometimes the immune system is triggered when there are no invaders to fight off and can attack regular healthy tissues. This is chronic inflammation and can lead to many devastating health conditions. You can avoid and treat chronic inflammation by living a healthy lifestyle and taking a curcumin supplement.
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Publishing, Harvard Health. “Understanding Acute and Chronic Inflammation.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-acute-and-chronic-inflammation.
“Top 12 Health Benefits of Curcumin.” Effective Natural Products, effectivenaturalproducts.com/blogs/news/top-12-health-benefits-of-curcumin.
Zelman, David. “Inflammation: Definition, Diseases, Types, and Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD, 13 Sept. 2018, www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation.