The Truth About Inflammation
One of the biggest topics in health this year is inflammation. What that means is that a lot of people are searching for information about it, and that many marketing people are using it to get clicks and drive traffic to their websites. Guess what else this means? There is a lot of bad, half-correct and incomplete information out there.
To help you weed through all of this, I have searched the internet, found scientific research and put together some solid information about inflammation.
First, let’s talk about what inflammation is. Simply put, it is a state in the body in which there has been damage that results in this area becoming swollen and often red. This definition refers to “acute inflammation.” This is the temporary redness and swelling that happens when you are injured, like when you twist your ankle, or get a bruise. This type of inflammation is actually helpful because it is part of the healing process. It is also temporary.
This year’s “hot topic inflammation” refers to a condition called “chronic inflammation.” This is inflammation that is not helpful and doesn’t go away after a few days. This type of inflammation is not helpful and can lead to negative consequences such as insulin resistance and increased weight.
Chronic inflammation can cause fat cells to become enlarged and increase the storage of fat within the body – so it can lead to weight gain. It also causes water retention, which causes weight gain. However, obesity can lead to chronic inflammation. This can be a vicious cycle – weight gain can be a factor in chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain.
There’s more. Weight gain isn’t the only thing that causes chronic inflammation. It can happen in people who are not overweight but can lead to those people gaining weight. This is tricky, which is why finding information about chronic inflammation can be hard. I’m going to try to simplify it for you.
Some of the things associated with chronic inflammation include: high stress levels, lack of quality sleep, poor diet and vitamin deficiencies, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and chemical exposure. Most of these things also lead to weight gain if not controlled.
So how do these things lead to chronic inflammation and weight gain? I will start with stress. When you are under long-term stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisone. High cortisone levels are associated with insulin resistance and increased belly fat.
This leads us to poor sleep. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, your body is stressed. So is your brain. This stress leads to the same problems: increased cortisone levels which leads to insulin resistance and a bigger waist line.
(Etheria Wellness offers programs to help you lose weight and manage stress)
Again, this is a vicious cycle.
Exposer to toxins can also lead to chronic inflammation. This can be through smoking, eating unhealthy foods that contain chemicals, exposure to environmental chemicals, chemicals in beauty and cleaning products, and even environmental pollution.
If you have a poor diet that is full of processed foods and sugar – and low in the nutrients that you need, then your body can experience vitamin deficiencies which can further inflame your system.
So now that you know that chronic inflammation is a real thing, what can you do about it and how do you know that you have it? Your doctor can run some simple blood tests that can indicate chronic inflammation. These lab tests are your white blood cell count (WBC) and C-Reactive Protein level (CRP). These tests are used to find infection and inflammation in the body, however, the results can be high without any identifiable infection if you have chronic inflammation. You might want to start by talking to your doctor.
If you do have chronic inflammation what can you do about it?
There is not one single answer – but is can be pretty simple: start by improving your diet. A healthy diet that is low in processed foods and sugar and high in nutrient rich foods will help you both fight chronic inflammation and lose weight.
While looking for information on this topic, I found two pieces of scientific data. One was a European study in 2008, which found that people with a high BMI (body mass index) also had chronic inflammation. The second was a 2004 Harvard University study which showed that chronic inflammation was reduced with weight loss. Both studies included the individual’s lab levels WBC and CRP. So, I suggest that you see if you need to eat better (most of us do), and if you need to lose weight, start a plan to do so.
Here are some tips that are great for losing weight and reducing inflammation:
- Eat a diet rich in antioxidants. These foods include brightly colored fruits and vegetables, green and white tea, berries, dark chocolate, and green leafy vegetables.
- Get enough omega 3’s and 6’s, which are found in Salmon, chia seeds, nuts, avocado, olive and coconut oils.
- Toss the salt shaker and use spices instead. Turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, ginger and peppers are great choices. (Spicy foods are linked to reduced inflammation and increased metabolism.)
- Get enough exercise! When you exercise, your muscles release anti-inflammatory proteins. It is recommended that you get 3 hours of cardio exercise weakly. This can be walking, jogging, biking, and swimming.
- Get enough sleep and work to manage your stress. (Etheria Wellness can help with this!)
- Drink the recommended amount of water. This helps to flush toxins out of your system, and you will feel better and lose more weight if you aren’t dehydrated.
On a final note, I will give you a list of foods that have been linked with increased inflammation. I usually suggest that you avoid most of these foods anyway, but some, such as red meat, just need to be kept in moderation.
The list: Red meats, processed meats, SUGAR, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, soda, many sports drinks, dairy products, bottled fruit juice, potato chips, and alcohol.
If you struggle with eating right or weight loss, Etheria Wellness offers several options for getting help. Contact us today to get more information.