Inflammation serves a purpose when your body has real enemies to fight. Fortunately, modern life reduces the threats our bodies have to face during daily survival. Unfortunately, having much more than our necessities can lead to another problem. The physiological stress of prolonged inflammation can do serious damage to the body.
The Good Fight – and How It Goes Bad
Inflammation can serve a vital purpose in your body. When you have a cut or an injury, inflammation goes to work. Additional blood and fluid are brought to the area, which makes it feel swollen, warm, and tender. The pain and swelling cause you to instinctively protect that area, and then inflammation go to battle: White blood cells combat any foreign invaders and begin the task of clearing dead tissue off the field, platelets coagulate to close any wounds, and the increased blood flow brings nutrients and oxygen that your tissues will need for healing. The process is similar when you have an infection: pain and/or fatigue prompts you to rest, while the inflammatory process gets to work fighting the enemy and bringing in the infrastructure to repair the damage.
Chronic inflammation does not resolve after an illness or an injury and may be triggered by ongoing conditions in the body. Chronic inflammation is linked with a number of disabling and even deadly conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, as well as chronic pain. When inflammatory symptoms are frequent or constant, this issue needs to be addressed.
The Cease-Fire – Anti-Inflammatory Treatments
Prednisone or other steroids can be prescribed to stop an inflammatory reaction that has escalated too far, or gone on too long. Though steroid treatments are very effective at stopping inflammation and can save lives when reactions are severe, the treatment itself can have negative effects on the body that are best avoided when possible.
An effective anti-inflammatory with much less dramatic action, and fewer side effects, is cannabidiol (CBD.) This safe and non-addictive extract from the hemp plant is becoming more widely available, with easy-to-use forms such as these chewable gummies, for example, https://cbdfx.com/collections/cbd-gummies/
CBD is especially useful as a treatment for chronic inflammation due to its protective effects on the body. It reduces both inflammation and pain, as well as having a positive effect on some other factors that lead to chronic inflammation, such as anxiety and poor sleep. CBD is also an antioxidant, which can reduce some of the damage that inflammation and other stresses cause within the body.
The Peace Treaty – an Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle
Lifestyle factors, including diet, sleep patterns, exercise, and stress, are the most significant cause of chronic inflammation. Being overweight, dehydrated, not sleeping enough, being sedentary, or psychological or emotional stress can lead to inflammation that persists throughout the body. Too many refined carbohydrates, processed foods, alcohol, or a lack of antioxidants can also lead to problems.
Happily, the inverse is also true. By drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, exercising, and limiting your intake of low-quality foods, and adding healthy anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, you can reduce your risk of chronic inflammation and each of the debilitating diseases inflammation is known to cause.
To calm inflammation over the long term, reduce or eliminate your intake of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates such as flour and flour products. Carbs will still be a significant portion of your daily calories, so replace the refined stuff with whole grains, legumes, root vegetables, and fruits. For protein, seek out nuts, seeds, and fish, which are good anti-inflammatory foods. Avoid highly processed meats and oils, but do use healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado. In addition to these changes, be sure to drink enough water!
Sleep and stress reduction also play an important role in calming your inflammation for good. A minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night is needed for cell repair, which includes reducing inflammation. To reduce stress, which can lead to both poor sleep and chronic inflammation, dedicate some time each day to meditation, taking a walk, or practicing gratitude.
When your body’s over-reaction to daily life is calmed over the long term, you allow the body’s normal defense mechanisms to rest. When an inflammatory response is needed to combat an injury or illness, your body will be ready.