I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, our bodies are supercomputers! One of their main jobs is to protect us from some nasty outside influences (not the ones we wish our teens avoided), and they do have some fabulous processes in place to help us stay healthy and strong.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal and essential part of your body’s defence mechanism, which helps protect and heal us from foreign invaders. If you cut yourself, the area will become red, swollen & start to scab over, thanks to hormones in the blood that make sure your immune cells leg it over to the injury to put up a barrier to any infection happening. When the job is done, the immune triggering hormones usually retreat back to when’st they came but sometimes they don’t, and that’s where the problems can arise.
Can it be helped with a band aid?
You may have seen in the media, magazines, tv etc, more chat about inflammation and it’s because fantastic scientists and doctors are now discovering that actually so many of today’s body issues are coming from long term inflammation. It can have the body in a constant state of alert which is now shown to have lasting and very damaging effects on our cells, tissues, joints and even our DNA which sadly cannot be helped by a mere band aid plaster. Current research is showing that it can also play a part in conditions from heart disease to cancer to asthma to auto-immune conditions so HELL YES, let’s talk about it.
Despite our best efforts to be healthy and well, our bodies can still develop internal inflammation that sometimes can go undetected, and ….. sometimes it shows itself more obviously.
Outside inflammation can show as sunburn, an insect bite, skin breakouts, plant stings etc. Internal inflammation develops inside your body over time and this is where we need to be more careful. Inflammation can be in your gut, in your joints and /or your organs, and is caused by your immune system being on high alert, meaning your body is trying to defend itself.
There can be different signs that the latter is happening, lack of energy, lack of sleep, loss of function, pain in the joints, bloating, gut issues, skin issues, heightened intolerance / allergic reactions and it can have been going on for a long time before you really notice. And guess what, the older we get, the more our body produces immune hormones and the tougher it is for our bodies to control them. YIPPEE, another billy bonus of getting older lol!!!
Some causes can be due to long term conditions and some are a result of short-term illnesses / infections or injuries. Our cells have to act quickly to provide the protection which, can be a bit painful – millions of miniscule cells in an army ready to march on through and fix things. This is where the inflammatory hormones come into play as that’s their job, but we must be aware that once the work is done, we need to help these soldiers retreat.
- There is no nice way to say it, being overweight is one of the top triggers. Fat tissue actually produces immune hormones, so the more fat your body has, the more of a certain type of inflammation you’ll have.
- Lack of movement doesn’t help either as when we move, the inflammation tends to calm down due to the body making hormones to counteract it.
- Focusing on our ‘diet’ is one of the easiest and best ways to keep chronic inflammation to a minimum. Unhealthy fats and highly refined foods such as starchy processed and sugary foods all make things worse as can alot of alcohol, caffeine & smoking. Your body just doesn’t like or want these things and fights to get rid of the poisons as soon as they are ingested or inhaled.
- Long term stress can also kick it up a notch as the levels of the fight or flight hormone, Cortisol, will be lifted and stay lifted which can cause inflammatory damage in your body. This also affects your sleep quality which is vital for your body to repair and renew it’s tissues. When we don’t get a proper nights’ sleep, it’s the healing stages that are missed out by the body.
So what can help?
Cherries have a massive anti-inflammatory content which is why you’ve maybe heard of people with Gout drinking cherry juice.
Fruit & veg are the best for cutting the inflammation thanks to anti-oxidants such as cartenoids (in orange veg), lycopene (tomatoes) & elements such as Magnesium. Plants should make up the biggest part of your daily ‘diet’ as these are the most anti-inflammatory especially leafy greens. The Mediterranean way of eating has been agreed to be the most suitable, think, good fats (olive oil, avocado, wild salmon, olives, nuts etc) and spicing things up a little with ginger & turmeric which are also highly anti-inflammatory.
If you do want to go down the natural route, you can look at homeopathy but I would suggest talking to a qualified Homeopath (which I’m not), they may suggest things such as Arnica for injury, Aconite for inflammatory flu like symptoms & Belladonna for heat, redness & swelling amongst others.
Other natural supplements may include Devils Claw which works on various of the bodies anti-inflammatory pathways, Turmeric (active ingredient Curcumin) & strong forms of Cherry juice, Omegas for joints and any good quality natural supplements containing lots of fruits & veggies which my family and I take daily.
If going down the supplement route, do talk to a professional who knows what they’re talking about, don’t just pop down to the local supermarket and grab the cheapest supplements, they’ll be full of crap fillers which won’t do your body any good and the concentration of the active ingredients will be way lower. You’d be better off just heading to the farmers market and stocking up on loads of fruits & veggies, in paper bags obviously.
Check out your Life Laundry! What can shift to make things easier for you on a daily basis. What activities make you feel more relaxed e.g. a yoga class, walk at the beach, taking deep breaths, sitting with your feet up reading a mag or a book, meditating, watching a movie, stroking your pet, driving in the countryside (avoid crazy drivers). Make a list and pop it in your phone or on a piece of paper where you can see it to remind yourself.
The bottom line is some inflammation in our bodies is required and can keep us alive, but we certainly don’t need or want it all the time and not in super high doses. Do what you can to keep the ‘not required’ at bay. Eat well, sleep well, move well, chill well and hopefully that will keep the pain and meds away.
Until next time