By: Leanne Ely
When most people think of inflammation, they think about swollen joints and arthritis.
That said, limiting the amount of inflammation in your body might not be on your radar screen at all, especially if you don’t have joint problems. But inflammation is way more than arthritis, and reducing the amount of inflammation your body encounters should be on everyone’s radar.
When any unwanted invader (such as a virus or bacteria) enters your body, inflammation is the body’s first line of defense. White blood cells are soldiers in the inflammation army, and they protect your body when it’s attacked.
This is how inflammation is intended to act in our bodies. The inflammatory process is a function of the immune system.
But today many of us are living with chronic inflammation, which is a problem because our inflammatory processes will not shut off. In turn, we become susceptible to a score of health issues. More about that in a bit, but first, let’s look at why we’re so inflamed!
The most common causes of chronic inflammation are stress and diet.
• Stress. Research suggests that chronic stress can cause your body to become unable to regulate its inflammatory response.
• Digestive turmoil. Chronic inflammation starts in the digestive system, so if you’re experiencing any sort of digestive grief, that can be a big source of chronic inflammation. (And millions of Americans are suffering with digestive issues from IBS to Celiac Disease.)
• Poor diet. Sugar, processed foods and the like put our gastrointestinal tract into over-drive, leading to chronic inflammation. Lack of sleep, inactivity, too many sodas and too much caffeine can also cause inflammation in the body.
• Food allergies, hormone fluctuations, exposure to chemicals and airborne toxins can also all contribute to inflammation in the body.
What’s the big deal about inflammation?
Studies show that chronic inflammation is linked to visible signs of aging, chronic pain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease!
When you lower the amount of inflammation in your body, you’ll be significantly lowering your risk of developing chronic disease.
The following are some ways you can help reduce the amount of inflammation in your body:
• Get more sleep. Aim for 8 hours per night.
• Reduce stress! I know, it’s easier said than done but try going outside in nature, getting a massage, reading a book—do something kind for yourself every day!
• Cut out the sugar. If you eliminate sugar, you will experience a tremendous number of health benefits, including reduced inflammation (and your good food tastes better!).
• Nutrients. Eat your vegetables! Lots of them, greens, colors and sulfur veggies.
One of the reasons I follow a Paleo diet is because it really is nature’s way of ensuring that you have as little inflammation in your body as possible. If you would like to give the Paleo diet a try, my suggestion is to join us for our 30 Day Paleo Challenge. We just released new menus for Fall, and I will be sharing all sorts of goodies with the group throughout the month of October. Click here to join!