Inflammation isn’t always bad. In fact, in small doses, it’s essential for your body’s health and survival. However, when it turns into excessive, chronic inflammation, it can lead to autoimmune disorders, disease, and chronic illness. Since chronic inflammation can become so serious, it’s important to do what you can to spot it, prevent it, and treat it if you have it. To help you do so, we’ve put together a list of ways to stop chronic inflammation in the body.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process. When we get injured, sick or are exposed to harmful toxins, our immune systems send inflammatory cells to protect themselves and kick start the healing process. There are two types of inflammation:
Acute inflammation: The response to sudden body damage, such as a cut or splinter that often causes redness or swelling. It’s intended to trap and negate bacteria, toxins or viruses and usually doesn’t last more than two weeks.
Chronic inflammation: The body starts to send out inflammatory cells or substances, even though there is no infection or injury. This occurs internally, so the signs of chronic inflammation are more subtle and increase gradually over time. It can last several months to years.
Inflammation plays an important role in healing, but chronic inflammation can increase your risk of various diseases including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and periodontitis.
7 Signs of Chronic Inflammation in the Body
- Body pain or discomfort (joint stiffness, tendonitis, muscle pain)
- Chronic fatigue and insomnia
- Anxiety, depression, and mood disorders
- Gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhea or acid reflux
- Weight gain or unexplained weight loss
- Frequent infections
- Skin rashes like psoriasis
7 Common Causes of Chronic Inflammation in the Body
- Autoimmune disorders (such as lupus) where your body attacks healthy tissue
- Long term exposure to toxins, like polluted air and industrial chemicals
- Persistent, untreated acute inflammation, such as from an infection or injury
- Chronic stress
- Diet rich in unhealthy fats, sugars and processed foods
How is Inflammation Confirmed and Diagnosed?
Many people don’t realize they have chronic inflammation until they’re diagnosed with another condition. If you’re experiencing common signs of chronic inflammation in the body, be sure to speak with your doctor. Based on your symptoms, your doctor may give you a series of tests to make a diagnosis. Certain blood tests are a good place to start. Your doctor will likely include ones that highlight C-reactive protein (CRP), which indicates infections or inflammation in the body (like the joints), as well as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), which shows inflammation in the heart.
7 Ways to Prevent Chronic Inflammation in the Body
- Manage your stress
- Avoid smoking and drink alcohol in moderation
- Engage in regular exercise to keep you strong and fit, and reduce inflammation
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods like oily fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats
- Stay away from inflammatory foods like sugar, refined carbs, fried foods, processed meats, dairy, and processed foods
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Practice good sleep hygiene
6 Ways to Treat Chronic Inflammation in the Body
1. Supplements and Spices
Vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and D, as well as zinc can help reduce inflammation and help repair your body. Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and promote gut health. You can also try spices such as turmeric, ginger, or garlic, which all help to reduce inflammation.
2. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Following an anti-inflammatory eating plan, such as the Mediterranean Diet can be helpful. The Mediterranean Diet decreases your intake of meats, cheeses, processed foods and sweets and fills you up with healthy, whole foods like oily fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, nuts and legumes, and olive oil. It also eliminates processed oils like cottonseed and soybean oil, which are found in many ultra-processed foods. It’s a realistic and sustainable way to reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy weight.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise helps you decrease stress, maintain a healthy weight, and maintain healthy bones and muscle mass, all of which help to fight inflammation. Try your best to get in two strength training workouts per week, as well as 150 minutes of moderate cardio, such as jogging, walking, cycling, tennis, swimming, or aerobics.
4. Prioritize Sleep
Getting quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, avoid digital devices for an hour before going to bed, and sleep in a cool, dark room. Sleep deprivation is associated with markers of inflammation, so proper sleep is a great way to keep your immune system in check.
5. Stay Away From Inflammatory Foods
Whether you follow the Mediterranean Diet or not, avoid inflammatory foods as much as possible. This includes sugar, refined carbs (white bread, pasta, rice, cakes, pastries), fried foods, processed meats (sausage, salami, bacon), dairy, and processed foods (frozen pizzas, chips, crackers, freezer meals). You’ll also want to avoid fast foods as much as possible. This will undoubtedly help with inflammation in your body.
6. Steroid injections
If your inflammation is interfering with your day to day life, corticosteroid shots can be used to decrease inflammation at a certain joint or muscle. They’re given by your healthcare professional and will be injected directly into the area of your body that’s experiencing symptoms, such as your ankle, hip, knee, spine or wrist. You should not have more than three or four steroid shots in the same body part per year.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with chronic inflammation or are worried about getting it, keep these ways to spot, treat and prevent it in mind.
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