Reduce Chronic Inflammation to Improve your Health
Chronic inflammation might not seem to be an issue that a chiropractor needs to discuss, but like spine and back health, inflammation plays a key role in your well-being.
Why Inflammation is Necessary
Acute inflammation is necessary for your body to stay healthy because it is designed to protect you from harmful bacteria and viruses that attack the body and also starts the healing process after injury. Acute inflammation helps to promote healing by directing blood flow and white blood cells to the injured area.
During this process, chemicals called cytokines are released by the injured tissue. These cytokines alert your body and direct hormones, immune cells and other helpers to help heal the area.
Next, depending on the injury, prostaglandins help to slow blood flow (clotting), start a fever, and introduce pain and swelling. These are natural signs that your body’s immune response is working.
The Effects of Inflammation
Inflammation is triggered when tissues become injured to begin the healing response. Inflammatory acute episodes begin within seconds of the trauma or invading virus or bacteria entering the body and may cause heat, redness, swelling, loss of function and pain – and can last up to a few days. If you are experiencing these symptoms for several months or years, it’s considered chronic inflammation.
What is Chronic Inflammation
Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is harmful to you because the perceived threat causing the inflammatory response is unwarranted and the persistent inflammation can damage tissues in your body, replacing healthy cells with fibrous tissue.
This can lead to and complicate a wide range of disease such as heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease (aka irritable bowel syndrome or IBS), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancers. Not only can chronic inflammation lead to life-altering diseases, but it can cause a significant number of symptoms such as chronic psychological stress, low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, neck pain, headaches, muscle tension, aching, soreness, and fatigue.
10 Easy Ways to Combat Chronic Inflammation
- Eat healthy foods: Avoid foods that cause inflammation such as fried foods, processed foods, grains and sugar (high glycemic index foods). Consuming omega-3 fatty acids like that in fatty fish has been shown to help lower inflammation as well. An anti-inflammatory diet made mostly of whole foods can keep your body and mind healthy and working well. For best results, avoid refined carbohydrates and processed sugars and eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Eat a salad daily: In the same vein as healthy eating, a salad loaded with leafy greens and water-rich vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers are chock full of antioxidants, especially when topped with a sugar-free olive oil vinaigrette. These antioxidants can reduce and prevent inflammation, especially when combined with other lifestyle factors.
- Avoid surges in blood sugar: Eat regularly to prevent dips and peaks in your blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that over time, this can cause inflammation and even lead to obesity. Eating balanced meals and snacks with moderate servings of protein (eg. a boiled egg with your oatmeal) can help curb temptation to eat processed food that can increase inflammation.
- Exercise: Studies have shown that regular moderate exercise can lower inflammation in the body. Typically, people who exercise regularly will also heal faster from injuries. The exercise doesn’t have to be complicated either. A simple daily walk is one of the best ways you can combat chronic inflammation and keep your body at its peak.
- Reduce Stress Levels: Being stressed out can release hormones that increase inflammation throughout the body. There are many ways that you can relieve stress levels from simple breathing techniques and removing stressful triggers to meditation.
- Stop Smoking: Smoking increases inflammation and can harden your arteries, causing an increase in blood pressure. However, within 10 years of quitting smoking, you may be able to reverse the effects of this harmful habit.
- Lower or cut out alcohol intake: If you’re feeling sluggish and out of sorts, alcohol may be to blame. Alcohol can dehydrate and cause inflammation, so if you’re not feeling at your best, skip your nightly glass of wine for a few days and see how you feel.
- Sleep: Being sleep deprived can have many negative effects on the body including increasing inflammation levels. Make sure you are getting sufficient and restful sleep of at least 7-8 hours. For more information on sleeping check out this article on insufficient sleep and osteoporosis.
- Practice good oral hygiene: What does brushing my teeth have to do with my body, you might ask. Taking great care of your teeth and gums can stop infections and cut down on bacteria entering your bloodstream. As a result, there is less inflammation-causing bacteria available to sneak into the rest of your body.
- Lose Weight: Carrying excess weight is one of the biggest causes of inflammation in the body. The good news is that physical activity and treating your body to whole foods can go a long way towards attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, following all the steps above can help you drop pounds and feel amazing.
Reduce Chronic Inflammation with Chiropractic Care
Regular chiropractic adjustments can help ensure your nervous system is working properly. Because chronic inflammation has been closely linked to stubborn back, head and neck pain, chiropractic care can help relieve you of your symptoms and inflammation.
When combined with the 10 steps above, chiropractic care can help reduce pain and discomfort. At Mind Body Spine, we provide the tools you need for optimal nutrition, exercise and stretches you can easily do at home between visits and stress reduction techniques. Combined, this whole-body approach to your wellness not only reduces your pain and tension, it prevents chronic inflammation and discomfort.
Experiencing chronic inflammation? If you’re just not feeling like yourself, come and see Dr. Stephanie Louie at Mind Body Spine in Victoria, BC. We’ll complete a new patient examination for you using your complete health history. You can easily book your first appointment online or by phone at (250) 885- 2320.