Diet and lifestyle changes can help prevent chronic inflammation
Inflammation is a normal part of our bodies’ natural defense against disease. It’s what happens when our immune system responds to something that shouldn’t be there. When you get an infection, your white blood cells start fighting the bacteria. Your body releases chemicals called cytokines, which help recruit other immune cells to the area. If the infection isn’t treated quickly enough, the cytokines cause damage to nearby tissues. That’s why antibiotics can sometimes cause diarrhea, nausea, fever, and other side effects.
“If you don’t get proper nutrition, don’t exercise regularly, or if you’re stressed out, your body will respond by triggering inflammation,’ says Dr. Pitis. ‘This can have harmful effects over time, so it’s important to keep an eye on what you put in your mouth, how much you move around, and how much stress you face.”
What does chronic inflammation do to the body?
Chronic inflammation is an underlying cause of many diseases. It starts when cells become inflamed, causing them to release chemicals that attract white blood cells to the area. These white blood cells then attack the body’s tissues, leading to tissue damage. Inflammation also causes the immune system to produce antibodies, which help fight infection. However, if you have chronic inflammation, these antibodies can actually harm healthy tissue. Chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes.
Fatty deposits in the lining of your blood vessels can lead to plaque formation and blockages. These clots can then break apart, causing a stroke or heart attack. Your immune system helps prevent this by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. But when you get sick, your body produces chemicals called cytokines that cause inflammation. Cytokines also increase levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, which leads to fatty deposits in the walls of your blood vessels.
Blood tests are often used to measure inflammation. These tests measure the amount of hs-CRP in your blood. CRP is an acute phase reactant produced by the liver and is released when there is tissue injury. High levels of hs-CRPs indicate ongoing inflammation. Homocysteine is another inflammatory biomarker that doctors sometimes measure. It is a sulfur containing amino acid that is formed during metabolism of methionine. Elevated levels of homocysteine indicate increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Glycosylated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a form of hemoglobin that occurs naturally in red blood cells. When glucose enters the bloodstream, it attaches to the hemoglobin molecules. As the body breaks down glycated hemoglobin, it releases small amounts of glucose into the bloodstream. Over time, high levels of HbA1c indicate poor glycemic control and may increase the risk of diabetes complications.
What can I do to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation?
You can reduce inflammation in your body by following a few simple steps. These steps will help you avoid chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
1. Eat less sugar
2. Cut back on processed foods
3. Get regular exercise
4. Avoid smoking
5. Drink plenty of water
6. Reduce stress
Load up on antiinflammatory foods
If your body is healthy, then you should be eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. You should also limit your consumption of processed foods and refined sugars. These unhealthy habits can lead to chronic disease and inflammation.
Eat more fruit and vegetables and foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids. Some of your best sources of Omega 3s are cold water fish like salmon and tuna, and also tofu, walnuts, ground flax seed, and soybeans. Other foods that contain Omega 3s are grapes, celery, berries, garlic, olive oil and tea.
The Mediterranean Diet is a great example of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet. This is because it focuses on eating fruits, veggies, fish and whole grains while limiting unhealthy fats like red meat, butter and eggs as well as processed and sugary foods.
Cut back or eliminate inflammatory foods
“Inflammatory foods include red meats and any foods with trans fat,” says Dr. Gray. These inflammatory foods increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health problems.
Control blood sugar
Simple carbohydrates like white flour, white rice and refined sugar cause spikes in blood glucose levels. These spikes then lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. High fructose corn syrup also leads to insulin resistance and obesity. Avoiding simple carbohydrates will help you lose weight and keep your blood sugar stable.