What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation refers to your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it – such as infections, injuries and toxins –  in an attempt to heal itself. When something damages your cells, the body releases chemicals that trigger a response from the immune system. But sometimes, our body’s defense system triggers an immune response against healthy cells, causing unnecessary over-activity.  This is the case with certain types of arthritis and other auto-immune diseases.

Symptoms of inflammation may include:

  • Heat
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Loss of Function

However, other types of immune activity that occur deeper within the body may not produce those types of symptoms. For instance, some internal organs (such as the lungs) do not have sensory nerve endings, so there will not be pain.

Managing inflammation is important. Chronic immune system over-activation can damage joints, arteries and organs. Here are some tips to reduce inflammation in your body:

Add Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Your Diet. Studies have shown that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation; some of the best sources are salmon, tuna, tofu, walnuts and flax seeds. Other anti-inflammatory foods include grapes, blueberries, avocados, garlic and olive oil.

Cut Back on Inflammatory Foods.  Try to avoid sugar, trans fat, red meat and processed foods as much as possible.

Exercise.  Consistent exercise is a great means to prevent immune system over-activity. Physical activity reduces levels of a protein called TNF that is an inflammation trigger. At the same time, exercise causes your muscle cells to release another protein called Interleukin 6 which helps fight inflammation.

Manage Your Stress.  Chronic stress is a huge contributor to inflammation. When stressed, our body goes into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode and produces a hormone called cortisol. Prolonged stress alters the ability of cortisol to regulate the inflammatory response and can wreak havoc on our immune system. Try meditation, yoga, journaling or some other method to keep stress levels down.

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