You’ve likely heard it before: following an anti-inflammatory diet will result in optimal health. But what exactly is inflammation and why does it matter? Tor Cardona, Editor of The Brief, SL’s daily news digest, investigates…
Any wellness guru will tell you – inflammation is like salt, a pinch is a good thing but too much can ruin everything. Acute inflammation, your body’s response to a cut or infection, protects you from harm. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, has been linked to everything from acne and allergies to arthritis and even Crohn’s disease. We turn to the expert for the lowdown…
What exactly is inflammation?
There are two types of inflammation. When doctors talk about it, they’re likely referring to a combination of heat, pain, redness and swelling which can happen externally or inside the body and typically lasts only a few days, such as a sprained ankle. In contrast, chronic inflammation, although less visible, leads to damage and disorder over time in the body. Moreover, scientific evidence suggests chronic inflammation is linked to nearly every disease on the planet. – Dr Nigma Talib, Naturopathic Doctor
So, what are the symptoms?
How long is a piece of string? Symptoms can be numerous and vague, ranging from fatigue, headaches, muscle or joint aches to respiratory problems. What is clear is that inflammation is systemic and if left untreated has the potential to trigger autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and diabetes – overworked immune systems turn against our bodies and start attacking healthy cells. – Dr Nigma Talib
Suffering from regular breakouts? Your skincare woes could be also be a sign of chronic inflammation. Dermatologist Nicholas Perricone MD – whose eponymous skincare line has been an A-list go-to since it launched in 1997 – is also adamant inflammation triggered by poor nutrition, pollution, sunlight and stress is the real culprit behind pretty much every skin issue, including wrinkles.
What causes inflammation?
What you eat really does matter. Gluten, dairy and processed foods as well as excessive sugar and alcohol are the biggest offenders. But there’s more to it than diet, with certain antibiotics, yeast infections and increased stress hormones all playing their part, too. Recognising food intolerances is so important because unless certain foods are removed from the diet, they’ll continue to inflame the body, creating a toxic environment.
Unsurprisingly, smoking and obesity have also been shown to play a part the inflammation process.
How to beat it…
Cut it out: Remove foods you may be intolerant to – top offenders include gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, sugar and artificial sweeteners. A food sensitivity test can be booked with Dr Talib at her London practice.
More fish, less meat: Eat wild-caught fish three to four times per week – this is jam-packed with essential fatty acids which help tackle overeager white blood cells which trigger inflammation.
Go green: Try to incorporate copious leafy and cruciferous green veggies into your diet, which are full of antioxidants and have an alkalizing effect on the body.
Rest up: Aim to get between seven and nine hours sleep every night – when you sleep, your body heals, which in turn reduces inflammation.
Incorporate spices: Detoxifying herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, cayenne and garlic work wonders to lower histamine levels and boost the liver, thus purging unwanted toxins.
Move your body: 45 to 50 minutes of moderate exercise, five days per week, will protect your heart, muscles and brain as well as boost the immune system, preventing disease and inflammation.
Inspiration Credits: LiveSimply.me, Healthista.com, ForTheLoveOfTheSouth.com
DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at [email protected]