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What is inflammation, and what is it doing to my health?

What is inflammation, and what is it doing to my health?

Inflammation is a buzzword that has been thrown around a lot lately.

Although inflammation can be harmful when it lasts too long, small amounts of inflammation are absolutely necessary to help your body heal, fight infections, and stay healthy.

This article helps explains what inflammation is and how it affects your health.

What is inflammation, and how does it affect my health?

Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body heal and fight infections.

When the body triggers inflammation, it makes more white blood cells, immune cells, and chemicals called cytokines. Together, they collectively work to help fight infections (1).

The most common visible signs of inflammation are redness, pain, heat, and swelling.

Unfortunately, inflammation can get out of hand sometimes and persist for longer than necessary. This is called chronic (long-term) inflammation and is linked to many diseases.

A few harmful diseases linked to chronic inflammation include (2, 3): 

  • Diabetes.
  • Insulin resistance.
  • Heart disease.
  • Liver diseases.
  • Cancers.

Chronic inflammation can also happen when people are stressed or overweight (4).

Also, eating too much of certain foods has been linked to inflammation, including (5, 6, 7):

  • Alcohol
  • Refined sugar
  • Artificial trans fats
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Processed meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, canned meats, and salami.

If your diet contains a lot of these foods, it’s time to cut back and take back your health.

Instead, choose more anti-inflammatory foods such as:

  • Avocado.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines.
  • Colorful fruit like grapes, cherries, tomato, and all berries.
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, broccoli, arugula, and bok choy.

Aside from your diet, other lifestyle changes you can make to fight inflammation include (8):

  • Exercise at least a few times per week.
  • Get at least 79 hours of restful sleep each night.
  • Certain supplements like fish oil, green tea, curcumin, spirulina, and resveratrol.

Summary Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body heal and fight infections, but when it gets out of control and lasts for too long, it may increase the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and more. Try following a few of the suggestions above that may you fight chronic inflammation and take back your health.

 

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Blog written by
Ryan Raman MHSC, RD
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