Inflammation is a biological response of the body to protect itself from harmful internal and external stimuli and start healing. It is a part of the body’s immune system and protects us from infections, wounds and tissue damage. Inflammation can be acute where it can start quickly and become severe in a short span of time. For example, acute inflammation can cause diseases and conditions like sinusitis, a sore throat from a cold, acute bronchitis, etc. Inflammation can be chronic in response to unwanted toxins in the body like cigarette smoke or excess body fat. This may extend from months to years that may lead to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and non-infectious conditions like tuberculosis, peptic ulcer, hepatitis, etc.
What causes chronic inflammation?
- Stress: Stress causes activity in the brain that can lead to physical pain which may lead to an inflammatory response in the body. Hence, people suffering from stress may experience inflammation.
- Poor diet: Some foods like simple sugars, high fructose corn syrup, refined flours, trans-fat-rich foods, processed meat, fried foods, etc. can trigger the inflammatory response in the body. So the consumption of these food items should be restricted.
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Consumption of alcohol, smoking, leading a sedentary life and being overweight creates a stress in the body that triggers an inflammatory response.
- Pollution: Pollution causes damage to the cells which may cause inflammation.
How can you be safe from chronic inflammation?
- Regular physical activity: The regular physical activity of 30 – 50 minutes will help you reduce weight and will also help you to mobilize the joints. This will reduce the chances of developing chronic inflammation.
- Having a well-balanced and nutritious diet: Do include all the food groups in your diet. Have foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, magnesium, carotenoids, antioxidants and lycopene as these nutrients are anti-inflammatory.
Some anti-inflammatory foods are:
- Olive oil
- Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
- Leafy greens, including spinach and kale
- Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel
- Fruits, especially blueberries, oranges and cherries
- Spices like ginger, turmeric, oregano and cloves
- Relieve yourself of stress: Sleeping for a minimum of 6-8 hours a day, trying and using stress relaxation techniques, talking about how you feel, etc will help you in maintaining and lowering your stress. This reduces the chances of inflammation.
Understanding the link between chronic inflammation, diet and exercise will help in ageing healthily and keep chronic diseases at bay. Eating an overall healthy diet rather than singling out foods and incorporating them into your diet is the best way to fight inflammation. Unprocessed, plant-based foods with a variety of colours will ensure your body is protected from inflammation.