Inflammation is such a buzzword in the health industry right now, but it’s not just about sore joints! Here’s why should we pay attention to the various symptoms of inflammation and why all the ‘basic’ healthy habit changes we’re working on go a long way towards reducing it.
What is inflammation?
Some degree of inflammation in our body is normal and expected – essentially it’s how our body’s immune system responds to irritation from something… germs, a splinter, even food. Interestingly (and this is the part most people don’t realise), it can also be a reaction to perceived injury or illness such as from our stress response. Our immune system reacts by sending out white blood cells to protect the area in trouble. If the issue isn’t resolved, the white blood cells continue to be produced and the inflammation persists.
Our immune system is capable of dealing with small ‘hits’ of inflammation, however, when it has to cope with constant chronic levels that add up from things like processed foods, frequent high intensity training, stress and anxiety, a lack of rest and recovery; that’s when things can go haywire. Rather than a focused, concentrated area of inflammation like a wrist or a finger, it can begin to manifest throughout the body.
Our immune system then struggles to cope, inflammatory symptoms can get out of control and because of the nature of these symptoms, they can begin to affect our health as well as our training and nutrition efforts.
Symptoms of elevated levels of inflammation in the body can include:
- Joint pain or achiness
- Feeling puffy and bloated
- Difficulty burning fat
- Feeling low on energy all the time
- Increased likelihood of injuries
- Difficulty recovering from injuries/sickness
- Inflammatory conditions such as skin issues
How do we reduce inflammation?
By nailing some of our key healthy habits – practicing them until we get them consistent – and generally being kind to your body. This includes:
- Having 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- Taking the time to rest and recover
- Allowing injuries the time to heal
- Eating nourishing whole foods most of the time
- Eating a balance of whole foods including healthy fats, carbohydrates and lean protein
- Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
- Becoming in tune with your body and noticing what foods trigger undesired symptoms (such as bowel irritation, bloating, constipation), then reducing the intake of those foods
- Focusing on practices to help reduce stress and anxiety
These ‘basic’ tasks may seem straightforward but most people struggle to do them. Which of these might you benefit from adding to your routine?
Jiang, C., Liu, Y., & Wang, Y. (2017). Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Retrieved 14 November 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5476783
Harvard Health. (2019). Playing with the fire of inflammation. Retrieved 14 November 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/playing-with-the-fire-of-inflammation
Mayo Clinic. (2019). How to use food to help your body fight inflammation. Retrieved 14 November 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/how-to-use-food-to-help-your-body-fight-inflammation/art-20457586
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