Inflammation is the body’s immune response to heal itself after injury, foreign bacteria or injured tissue. It triggers body’s response to assign immune cells, nutrients and hormones towards a problem it thinks can cause damage to the area and thus acts as a healing mechanism. Inflammation in body can be of two types – acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the immediate response to an injury or infection and leads to healing. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand suggests an ongoing condition of the area that the body is unable to heal. This is a bad omen and is the cause of several diseases and organ degradation.
Our body has several small ways of telling how it’s feeling from within, ways that are easy to recognize but are still largely ignored. Inflammation is best avoided if you want to live a healthy life which is potentially longer too. Sometimes, inflammation is as simple a reaction as getting acne or flu, and sometimes it can be the cause of many serious illnesses – asthma, TB, osteoarthritis, Crohn’s disease, cancer, heart diseases, etc.
WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION IN BODY?
Inflammation in the body is sometimes the result of poor diet and sometimes environmental factors. Chronic inflammation can also increase risk factors for diseases in other two ways: first – the body sends a false signal to treat an area, the immune cells jump in and finding nothing to work at start attacking other nearby cells; second – the body is unable to detect a problem and inflammation continues causing slow damage overtime.
Inflammation is caused by three main reasons:
- Eating too much refined carbs, sugar and processed food – Eating processed food causes inflammation of the gut which causes ‘leaky gut syndrome’ and is a silent invitation to diseases. Increase in blood sugar also contributes to increase in free radicals, which are well known cell killers.
- Working out too hard and infrequently – Every workout causes micro tear of the muscle which triggers a recovery process. With regular trainings these muscles get adapted to the stress and tear up less and cause less inflammation, unless you increase the intensity or you are irregular which makes the body repeat the same process. However, when you train daily the muscles do not get a chance to fully recover. Training too hard and resting too little can lead to chronic inflammation. Other than muscles, joint tissues too need that time to recover. That is not to say of course that one shouldn’t workout; just increase intensity gradually and take rest days.
- Chronic stress and anger – Stress and depression can lead to inflammation by elevating cortisol level.
CAN INFLAMMATION BE CURED? HOW TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION?
Inflammation is not a disease but just a condition of the body that can be improved by taking appropriate measures.
- Pay attention to diet – avoiding junk is a good practice in general, but in this case it can be particularly useful to increase intake of anti-inflammatory food.
- De-stress and have proper sleep
- Workout regularly and don’t think about quick results; they may come at the cost of reduced long-term health. Also, pay attention to mind calming activities to tackle stress.
- Avoid toxins in the body entering via pesticide-infested food, chemical laden skin care products, smoking and alcohol.
- Avoid dairy products – it is hard to imagine Indian diet without milk, paneer and ghee but some people don’t react too well to lactose and need to stay away from dairy. Also, depending on the source of dairy, some products can be high in omega-6 which is highly inflammatory.
Thus with proper food and lifestyle changes, it is easy to keep inflammation at low levels, just what is needed to heal infections and injuries.
WHAT FOODS ARE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY?
It is amazing to realize how simple and cheap it is to keep inflammation at bay. Turmeric, ginger, basil, avocado, olive oil, nuts, broccoli, cinnamon, onions, whole grains and chia seeds are well known anti-inflammatory foods. With the Indian diet especially we are lucky to be already including a lot of these healthy herbs and spices. Other than these, supplements for omega-3 and probiotics greatly help.