Inflammation and how it affects your body

22 April 2024

You might think of inflammation as that redness and swelling after a scrape or a twisted ankle. But did you know that inflammation can be internal and affect your body from within.  It can also play the role of superhero or villain. 

Types of Inflammation

Inflammation can be acute or chronic. Think of acute inflammation as the body’s rapid response team, the defense mechanism. It arrives swiftly to handle injuries or infections by releasing chemicals that cause the redness or swelling you usually associate with inflammation. If inflammation lingers, it can turn into chronic inflammation, which can contribute to various health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and more. 

Sometimes, the immune system gets a bit overzealous. Chronic inflammation can arise when the body perceives a threat that isn’t there, leading to prolonged immune responses. This can damage healthy tissues and contribute to autoimmune conditions as well as other diseases.  So keeping inflammation at bay is important to our overall wellbeing & health.

The symptoms of Chronic Inflammation can include; 

  • Body pain, arthralgia, myalgia
  • Chronic fatigue and insomnia
  • Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
  • Gastrointestinal complications like constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Frequent infections (ulcers, colds, stomach pain, cuts and bruises taking longer than usual to heal)

So how do you manage or reduce inflammatory responses in your body?  There’s a number of ways you can address it. 

Inflammation & Diet

We covered this in our last blog post, foods can be a friend and a foe when it comes to inflammation in our bodies – and not just to those who have inflammatory responses such as IBS.  The more we look after our gut with a healthy diet, the more we can avoid inflammation.  So keep a focus on foods high in antioxidants (berries are great, as are colourful veggies) as well as healthy fats (avocado, fatty fish), while staying away from sugar and highly processed foods.

The Sleep-Stress Connection

A lack of sleep and chronic stress can fan the flames of inflammation as well. Prioritize restful sleep and stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness to keep your body’s inflammatory response in check.  Diaphragmatic breathing is a fantastic way to calm your nervous system before sleep, promoting a deeper and more restful sleep.

Reducing stress before bed is also important, so unplugging from work emails and staying away from a thriller before bed!!

The Power of Exercise

Get moving! Regular physical activity has an impressive power to curb chronic inflammation. It’s like a natural anti-inflammatory prescription that benefits your body from head to toe.  Which makes sense that sitting for long periods can actually stoke inflammation in your body. So make sure you get some steps in every hour – even if it’s just to get up and grab a glass of water – one an hour is ideal!

But be careful, exercising at your maximum intensity for too long or too often can cause inflammatory responses from the body as well.  Like everything, moderation is important.

Inflammation’s Ripple Effect

Inflammation doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s tightly linked to other health factors like gut health and hormonal balance. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking guidance from professionals like your GP or nutritionalist can help keep your inflammation levels in check.

The more you provide the foundation stones for a healthy body, the more your body will look after you! 

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