Is Your Lifestyle Causing Hidden Inflammation?
Is Your Lifestyle Causing Hidden Inflammation?

Is Your Lifestyle Causing Hidden Inflammation?

Living in the shadow of a pandemic for the last couple of years has brought our immune systems into sharper focus than ever before. Latest studies suggest a link between inflammation and immunity – whether it manifests as frequent colds, joint pain, skin rashes or fatigue. So, what are the signs your body is inflamed and how can you get your immune system back on track? Here’s what the experts want you to know…

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“When the body fights off an infection, this triggers an immune response to tackle whatever it is that’s damaging our cells. But, if this lingers, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which leaves the body in a constant state of alert, causing a problem referred to as ‘inflammunity’. In the right doses and in the short term, inflammation is health-promoting – it initiates repair and triggers healing. But, as with any system, things can go wrong and friendly fire may be the result. If the offending ‘stressor’ isn’t removed from the body quickly and efficiently, the immune system can come to a halt, triggering inflammation and damaging body tissues. The problem is that inflammation isn’t always obvious – it’s not always a red, swollen knee or itchy rash – and studies have linked it to mental health struggles and even Alzheimer’s. Nearly every organ in the body has immune receptors – so nearly every part of the body is at risk of the negative impact of inflammunity.” – Lara Hughes, naturopath and nutritional therapist 

What Are The Typical Signs Of Inflammation?

“Acute inflammation can cause redness, swelling and pain, while chronic inflammation can be less obvious, causing a broad array of symptoms, including gastrointestinal upset, food sensitivities and reactivity; chest pain and tightness; fatigue; feverishness; joint pain and stiffness, such as rheumatoid arthritis; skin rashes and sensitivities, such as dermatitis and psoriasis; brain fog, memory problems and decreased cognition; allergies such as hay fever, asthma and atopic skin conditions; and frequently coming down with bugs, viruses and infections.” – Lara 

What’s Making Us So Inflamed In The First Place?

“Gut health plays a significant part in inflammation. If you eat a highly processed, refined diet that lacks fibre and is high in sugar, then chances are your gut bacteria are out of balance, which can damage the delicate gut lining, drive inflammation and compromise the immune system. Alcohol consumption also plays a part, as does obesity. Those with a higher BMI – particularly if you carry more fat around your stomach – have a higher baseline level of inflammation. In fact, research shows that fat cells promote system-wide inflammation. Those with sedentary lifestyles also tend to be more inflamed, while sleep deprivation also takes its toll. When we have a bad night’s sleep, this leads to spikes of cortisol, which increases inflammation and depresses immune function, and fosters cravings for simple carbs and high-sugar foods, all of which escalate the inflammatory cascade. And while it may sound counterintuitive, over exercising can also be damaging. If you participate in lots of endurance running – such as marathon training – or do HIIT every day without sufficient rest, this increases cortisol secretion for up to 48 hours, which promotes inflammation and suppresses the immune system.” – Lara

Those with a HIGHER BMI – particularly if you carry more fat around your stomach – have a higher BASELINE level of INFLAMMATION.

What About Diet?

“A high glycaemic load diet can wreak havoc with your health. Not only do glucose-containing, refined products like white rice, bread, pasta, white flour-containing baked goods, sweets and chocolate promote inflammation in their own right, but the nail is hammered into the coffin by accompanying blood sugar dysregulation, which triggers cortisol secretion (increasing inflammation and suppressing immune function in tandem). And it may sound obvious, but a nutrient-depleted diet that lacks sufficient vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids will deplete your body of the resources needed to switch off inflammatory signals.” – Lara 

Are Some People More At Risk?

“Yes – the older you are, the more at risk you are of being inflamed and this affecting the immune system. In fact, studies show older age leads to inflammaging – i.e., ageing of the immune system. Later in life, the body produces fewer immune cells and the immune system is less able to produce an efficient response, which can not only leave an infection lurking but can also promote low-level background inflammation. At the same time, if you are prone to allergies, such as hay fever, you already have high levels of inflammatory markers. That well-known itchiness and sneezing sensation that comes with hay fever is a sign your immune system is primed to release inflammatory-promoting histamine. Diabetics and those exposed to high levels of toxins – whether environmental pollution or from household products and topical skincare – are also at an increased risk.” – Lara 

Here, The Experts Share Their Tips For Keeping Inflammation Under Control For Better Immunity And All-Round Health…

Aim For 8-A-Day: “Don’t just aim for five portions of fruit and veg – the more you can eat, the better. Try to include a variety of different coloured fruit and veg – frozen, tinned and dried options all count towards your daily goal.” – Dr Nisa Aslam, GP

Stick To A Healthy Body Weight: “Exercise three or four times a week, eat a balanced diet and reduce your calorie intake if you are overweight. Excess body fat is pro-inflammatory and significantly increases the risk of inflammunity, affecting your ability to fight off an infection.” – Nisa 

Eat A Mediterranean Diet: “Research repeatedly shows the Mediterranean Diet – rich in fibre, wholegrains, vegetables, fibrous fruits, lean protein, oily fish and healthy fats – can lower inflammation, support immunity and alleviate a plethora of chronic, inflammunity-related conditions.” – Lara 

When we have a BAD night’s SLEEP, this drives cortisol, which increases inflammation and fosters CRAVINGS for simple carbs and high-sugar foods, both of which ESCALATE the inflammatory cascade.

Stress Less: “Keep stress to a minimum by taking active time from work and screens to relax and get some headspace. Studies show that bouts of stress release cortisol, our dominant stress hormone that’s also an inflammatory marker, which can be detected within minutes in saliva after a stressful experience.” – Nisa 

Take A Supplement: “Consider taking a quality multivitamin that’s rich in immune-supporting vitamins C and D, zinc and selenium, as well as a good-quality omega-3 to directly support anti-inflammatory pathways.” – Lara 

Exercise Wisely: “Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, ideally not just walking. Pilates is a great option, and certain forms of yoga have the added benefit of focusing on breathwork and lowering inflammatory-promoting stress responses. Ideally, exercise outside to maximise vitamin D enhancing sun exposure, which regulates the immune system and has a role in lowering inflammation and pain.” – Lara

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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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