A convincing link has been established between chronic inflammation and certain chronic diseases. This connection involves the immune system, contributing to autoimmune diseases, some types of arthritis, and some cancers.
So, what causes inflammation? Is there anything we can we do to lessen it? Happily, the answer is yes. Much of the inflammation Americans are dealing with is lifestyle related, and there is much we can do to lessen it. Here are some ideas.
A healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fatty fish (such as salmon or tuna) actively lessens inflammation. Foods with saturated fats, such as dairy and fatty meats, promote inflammation. Trans fats, found in processed foods, also promote inflammation. Sugar, found in sodas, snack foods, and now added to most processed foods and sauces, is also a big promoter of inflammation.
Going hand in hand with good food choices, being at a healthy weight also reduces inflammation. Body fat produces chemicals that promote inflammation, so the more excess weight you carry, the more inflammation in the cells of your body.
Be active: research has proven that physical activity reduces levels of inflammatory chemicals. Conversely, research has also shown that being sedentary increases the same chemicals.
Relaxation techniques, such as prayer, meditation, and yoga all have been shown to reduce inflammation. Stressful situations increase it. While we all have stress in our lives, it pays great health benefits when we adjust our lives to avoid continued, long term stress.
Like relaxation, good quality sleep lessens inflammatory chemicals in the body. Every lost hour of sleep increases those same chemicals.
Good oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and regular dental teeth cleaning, helps fight inflammation! This is because these habits prevent plaque from forming on our teeth. Plaque not only leads to gum disease and cavities, but also generates inflammatory chemicals!
Minimize exposure to air pollution. Several studies have shown that car exhaust and other air pollutants increase systemic inflammation and the risk for arthritis. Consider getting air purifiers for your home and purchasing top quality filters for your air conditioning system.
Few of my patients are smokers, but many have friends and loved ones who are, or frequent places where others are smoking. Tobacco smoke stimulates systemic inflammation, and avoiding smoke lessens it.
Finally, if you have disease symptoms involving the immune system, such as joint disease and arthritis, consider taking anti-inflammatory nutritional supplements. My two favorites are Tumeric and Omega 3 fatty acids, (fish oil).