Systemic inflammation sounds like something you’d notice right off, but it isn’t. Our bodies are inflamed almost all the time to some degree. This is part of how we fight infections and keep our inner workings in balance. However, a poor diet, obesity, stress, and other internal and external factors can elevate the body’s inflammatory response, leaving it in constant overdrive.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is part of our body’s natural response to things like stress, germs, and physical and emotional pressure. If you’ve ever had an accident that caused swelling and bruising, then you’ve seen inflammation at work. In many ways, inflammation is beneficial since the process tells the body that it’s time for the immune system to kick in and begin repairing the damage. This type of acute inflammation typically resolves within a few days. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, happens when we are continually exposed to stimuli. Many healthcare professionals, including Dr. David Jockers of Exodus Health Center, believe that chronic, systemic, low-grade inflammation is the root of most diseases.
Long-term consequences of systemic inflammation include the loss of mobility, cognitive decline, abnormal cell growth, and compromised digestive function. An inflamed gut is often a byproduct of the standard American diet, which includes an overabundance of unhealthy foods and tends to prioritize eating for convenience. An imbalanced diet can wreak havoc on the gut microbiota, which is comprised of bacteria and other non-human cells and is related to digestion, emotional health, and the immune system.
A Natural Approach
One of the simplest ways to beat acute inflammation is to take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. However, this is not effective against widespread inflammation. Lifestyle changes can reduce internal irritation naturally and lead to overall better health.
Since inflammation is brought on in part by toxicity in the body, increasing your fluid intake can flush these toxins and may help lessen pain. Similarly, focusing on foods that fight inflammation can help you reduce your body’s response. Harvard University lists strawberries, salmon, walnuts, spinach, and tomatoes as some of the most effective anti-inflammatory foods. Processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and fried foods contribute to the issue. Taking a probiotic and eating fermented and prebiotic foods further assist in boosting gut health, which can help lower overall inflammation since the gut is linked to all systems.
In addition to what you put into your body, what you get out of your body can also affect your inflammation levels. Exercise, which can trigger an acute response, is essential in reducing body-wide issues, including inflammation. Many healthcare professionals recommend periodic movement throughout the day, often citing that it’s best to get up from a seated position at least once every hour for 10 minutes. In addition to this constant movement, a regular exercise routine can ward off inflammation, increase muscle strength, and encourage weight loss. Exercise can also help us manage stress, which is another contributing factor to inflammation.
The effects of inflammation are widespread. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, you may feel fatigued, irritable, and emotionally drained. However, these issues may be attributed to other health conditions as well. There are tests available that can help identify inflammation, including C-reactive protein and Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (sed rate) screenings.
Inflammation inhibits your body’s ability to heal properly and may trigger more serious health concerns that are much harder to manage. By paying attention to your gut (which is where inflammation often starts), exercising, and taking steps to reduce stress, you may be able to manage inflammation without medical intervention. These types of activities are part of an overall healthy lifestyle and can help you look and feel your best 100 percent of the time.