Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Hello and welcome to another blog. In this one, we are going to be discussing something called chronic inflammation. It is a cause of a lot of common symptoms you might have, such as chronic pain, fatigue, gut issues, etc… I am going to give you some tips about how to recognize it and what habits to change so you can effectively get rid of it. But First.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a complex biological response of the body to harmful stimuli. It is a protective response of the immune system against pathogens (any organism that can produce disease), damaged cells, and irritants (foreign objects for instance). The function of inflammation is quite important. Eliminate the cause of cell injury, clear damaged tissue, and initiate the repair process.
Inflammation is not a bad thing.
We have all hurt ourselves at some point. We fall off a bike, cut with a knife, step on a nail, had a splinter, etc… of course, those are history now, as they are already healed. That wouldn’t have been possible if there was not an inflammatory process to tell the brain: Hey, there is an injury. We need to initiate the recovery process. We do need inflammation to survive. So do not look at it as something bad. However, there are two types of inflammation that you need to be aware of.
This is the one that we discussed above. This types of inflammation occur after injuries, sicknesses, and strenuous activities. They are usually short-term, lasting for few days. They are essential for the healing, adaptation, and recovery process.
After a workout, the muscles have minor damages and therefore they are instantly inflamed. That inflammation triggers a recovery process that repairs the muscles and eventually causes them to adapt. So if you are getting stronger, know that it couldn’t be possible if there was no inflammation.
This type of inflammation is a low-grade, long-lasting process that can go on for years. This is the dangerous one that is linked in many studies with various brain and heart diseases. It is usually caused by bad behavior patterns, which constantly keep high levels of inflammatory markers. It happens slowly and silently, so the most dangerous part about chronic inflammation is that you can’t feel it happening.
How do you find out if you have any?
We all do. And even hard to recognize, the most common symptoms are chronic headaches, joint and ligament pain, gut health issues, chronic fatigue, and lack of motivation.
We can’t always be aware of the cause of our systematic inflammation, but we can try to eliminate the most common contributors to it. I will list the most common behavior which by changing, will result in a potential decrease of the symptoms.
Reduce heavily processed food and sugar.
Food by itself is inflammatory. It is a foreign body that takes time and energy to be processed. However, some foods can help the smooth work of the gut, and some that can really cause issues.
Processed foods, such as all take away, fast foods, frozen foods, and long shelf life foods are full of toxins that slow down and make the digestion process harder. This results in bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and increased inflammatory markers.
Minimizing the consumption of heavily processed food can be a very difficult task for many people, especially in today’s busy, but sedentary lifestyle. Instead of hammering yourself for eating badly, try to encourage yourself to eat well.
Try to increase your consumption of fresh vegetables. Make effort to cook your food instead of buying it prepared. Try to add more fruits and berries to the diet. It is a slow process. If you try to eliminate foods, you will be more likely to fail. Try to add more healthy food instead. You will be surprised by the results.
Make sure you sleep enough and you sleep well.
Sleep is the time of the day when we do not only lay down and dream of various crazy stuff. Sleep is the time when we recover, eliminate toxic waste from the brain and make new brain cells. It is crucially important to sleep at least 7 hours per night, as well as to ensure that we have enough quality of it. Lack of sleep or quality of sleep can definitely cause systemic inflammation and contribute to pain and lack of recovery.
Having at least 7 hours of sleep is pretty hard, but not an impossible task to obtain. I recommend creating routines around it. Going to bed at around the same time every night can help a lot. Minimizing blue or bright light exposure right before sleep is a good practice to ensure optimal production of melatonin. A hormone that prepares the brain for good quality sleep. Check out this blog to find out more.
Last but not least is activity.
This is very important for reducing chronic inflammations. Regular exercise is shown to decrease TNF (tumor necrosis factor) and CRP (C-reactive protein), both involved in chronic inflammation.
And, you may be asking yourself: Why exercises? It is written above that exercise does spike inflammation.???
Exercise, if done correctly, increase muscle mass, reduce body fats, build strength and help digestion. Improve insulin sensitivity. Improves mobility and range of motion, lubricate the joints. I can go on and on. The point is that the lack of them is detrimental.
Start slow. Find what works for you. If you are not used to moving much, every type of activity is going to be hard. Find the one that you enjoy the most. Resistant training is arguably one of the best forms of training because it can be modified according to your own needs, and it is more fun than just running. I highly recommend hiring a personal trainer if you choose to start this way.
Make sure you do not overtrain. Give your body enough time to recover. Remember. Under training is going to give you some results, overtraining will give you none, and even increase the systemic inflammation markers.
Even though these are the top 3 things you should do to fight chronic inflammation, there are a few more that are quite important as well.
Drink enough water.
This will ensure optimal toxin and waste elimination as well as joint lubrication. If you can manage to have at least 2 litters per day, it will be more than great.
Easily said than done. In fact, working on those big 3 will help you a lot with reducing stress. However, if you want to improve it significantly, I highly recommend meditation or some type of spiritual practice.
Reduce coffee intake.
I know, coffee feels good. And don’t get me wrong. It is not a bad supplement if we don’t overconsume it. Coffee stimulates the nervous system and puts it in a fight or flight state. That is the very opposite of feed and digest or in other words the recovery state.
Before we finish I want to throw some thoughts about anti-inflammatory drugs.
They are not bad. But they have their application, which is not to numb the pain so we can work out. If you have chronic pain that stops you from training, that is your chronic inflammation. And numbing it with drugs is going to worsen the problem. Not only that, but anti-inflammatory drugs are reducing the overall inflammation. The one that we need to adapt to and get stronger. A better option would be to address the root cause of the pain and take the time needed to fix it.
With that said, inflammation is a pretty complex process. It is essential for adaptation and progression, as well as for healing and growing. However, chronic one can be really detrimental and hard to even notice. Try out some of those tips. I hope they change other aspects of your health too.