Inflammation is defined as, “a local response to cellular injury that is marked by capillary dilatation, leukocytic (white blood cell) infiltration, redness, heat, and pain and that serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue.” This is an essential part of the healing process and is a natural, chemical response to wounds, injuries, and infections.
Chronic inflammation occurs when the body continuously pumps out the chemicals that cause short-term, localized inflammation, leaving your body in a constant inflammatory state. When this happens, the immune system is, in effect, mistakenly attacking the body’s own healthy tissues and organs. This can contribute to serious health issues including MS and other autoimmune diseases, among others.
Bottom line? It’s not good. So, how can we help reduce inflammation in the body? Some people tend to try cbd tincture or something similar, however, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. That being said, here are my tips:
Listen to your body. We have all become somewhat desensitized to ourselves. Particularly when struggling with an autoimmune disease, we start to distrust ourselves and our bodies. We know we don’t feel well, but we don’t always make the connection as to why. Ask yourself the following questions to start, and keep them in mind when you are not feeling quite right:
- Do my symptoms feel better on vacation or when I’m out with friends enjoying myself?
- Do my symptoms improve with sleep or become aggravated when I don’t get enough sleep?
- Do I feel better when I’m eating certain foods and/ or worse after eating other foods?
- Are my symptoms most aggressive in the morning or at the end of the day?
- Are my symptoms aggravated by heat? Humidity? Cold? Rain?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you become more aware of your body and how it feels. Being on vacation or relaxing with friends reduces stress and therefore, inflammation. Not getting enough sleep increases inflammation. Sugary foods are terrible for inflammation. Everything we do and feel and eat affects our health, so taking a holistic approach to caring for your mind and body will help keep things in balance and inflammation in check.
Eat well. As a practitioner who believes one person’s medicine is another person’s poison, it is not always easy for me to give dietary advice online. However, as a general rule of thumb, I would suggest the following:
- Choose real food. Include as much whole, real, organic food as possible in your diet. Whole foods tend to be those found in their natural, original form, i.e., vegetables and fruits, wild-caught fish, free-range eggs, etc.
- Eat healthy fats. Look for monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados, and omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil.
- Avoid processed foods. Look out for these ingredients which are some of the largest contributors to silent inflammation: Trans fats (in most processed foods and hydrogenated oils), sugar, aspartame and all artificial sweeteners (these are toxic), refined flours, and gluten.
Sleep and relax. Danielle LaPorte said, “Stop the glorification of busy.” This is one of my favorite new quotes. We live in a time where the dominant theme is, “The early bird catches the worm,” and “Who needs sleep?” As if getting up at four or five o’clock in the morning just to cram more into your day makes you seem more productive. I think this is a big mistake. We need to shed the guilt about sleeping or even relaxing. It is essential for our health. Sleep is a natural antidote to inflammation. I believe seven to nine hours a night is crucial for the body to rejuvenate, restore, and heal itself. If you are wiped out, take some down time. Your body is telling you what it needs. Be kind to it and listen. Some tips for ideal sleep:
- Invest in a good mattress and pillow(s).
- Install black-out shades or curtains.
- Remove all electronic devices from your bedroom.
- Use a white-noise machine if you are hypersensitive to noise.
Supplement your diet. We are all different, so it’s important to work with your family practitioner or healthcare provider to run the required tests in order to determine which supplements are necessary for you. Sometimes when researching online you may come across supplements and medicines that could potentially be beneficial to you on news pages and even websites similar to https://kratom.org/, these can be good for you but you should always thoroughly research each one. Below I cover the ones I think are most beneficial, but again, please consult your physician before taking any supplements. My list includes:
- Probiotics: These help balance the ratio of beneficial to non-beneficial bacteria in the gut. Healthy bacteria helps reduce inflammation.
- Vitamin D: Most people are deficient in vitamin D, which can help reduce inflammation, and low D levels have also been connected to autoimmune diseases.
- High quality Omega-3 fish oil: This oil is also shown to keep inflammation down.
- Bioflavonoids: These plant chemicals offer a wealth of anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant effects.
- Spices: Ginger and turmeric have natural anti-inflammatory effects, but you should always check for contraindications to any medicines you’re taking.
Having said that, lipoic acid might also have the potential to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore, customized supplements (from Rootine.co or similar companies) can be taken in order to help maintain lipoic acid in the body.
Exercise. Move your body! Working out is another natural way to reduce inflammation — and it’s a great stress reliever! Try not to get stuck thinking you must go to the gym for 45 to 60 minutes a day. Here are some simple ideas for incorporating exercise into your daily life:
- Walk: I maintain that daily walking is one of the best ways to get your heart rate up and you can do it anywhere. Start slow with five to ten minutes and slowly build up.
- Dance: Make a great playlist and go for it!
- Learn Yoga or Pilates: These practices incorporate deep breathing and get the body moving in a very gentle way.
Consider acupuncture. The ancient practice of acupuncture, which involves puncturing the skin at different points in an attempt to stimulate blood flow and restore balance or “qi” can be helpful in the fight against inflammation. Acupuncture is known to:
- Increase blood flow, which helps reduce inflammation.
- Encourage the body to release endorphins, which help to reduce stress and in turn, calm inflammation.
- Strengthen the immune system, which is weakened when the body is fighting constant inflammation or chronic autoimmune attack.
If you want to see if chronic inflammation is contributing to your symptoms, you can ask your doctor to run a simple blood test that measures the amount of C-Reactive protein in your blood, which indicates inflammation. I know some people like to have some measurable test with concrete results to help them understand why they may be experiencing certain symptoms. However, whether you are experiencing inflammation or not, I strongly believe that the above tips are beneficial for all of us. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Lynn Keating, Lac. CHHC
To learn more about MS and keep up with the latest news in MS research, follow MS HOPE Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.chronic inflammation, health tips, inflammation, MS, omega-3 fatty acids, sleep tips