We all know what it feels like to experience inflammation.

We get the flu, or we have a cut, or we sprain our ankle. Our immune system is activated. We experience the heat, swelling, redness and pain of acute inflammation.

Several years ago, I developed Influenza A, a nasty viral infection. I was on the couch for several days, hot with fever, a red face and aching all over. Inflammation at its best!

What exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s way of healing injured tissue or fighting bacteria in the bloodstream. It’s normal. Inflammation begins when bacteria or damaged tissue release chemicals into the body. In turn, white blood cells create substances that cause cells to divide and grow, vanquishing the bacteria and rebuilding tissue to help repair the injury.

In these circumstances, inflammation is a good thing. These symptoms are signs that our immune system is healthy, doing its job and protecting us. When all is good, the symptoms fade. Life goes back to normal.

Imagine all this going undetected for months. Imagine heat, swelling, redness and pain circulating through your body all the time. This is chronic inflammation. Many of us walk around with it every day, unaware that we have it. This is where the trouble starts. However, it’s tough to diagnose.

What happens when inflammation gets out of control?

Chronic inflammation is the sign of an immune system gone rogue, when white blood cells attack healthy tissues and organs, damaging them. When inflammation is triggered without an injury or doesn’t end when it should, it can lead to disease. It often develops where you’re genetically most vulnerable.

We’re just discovering the impact of chronic inflammation. It has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, belly fat, Celiac disease, cognitive decline, Crohn’s disease, depression, diabetes, exhaustion, hair loss, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis. It can cause DNA damage and lead to cancer.

Why does a good thing turn bad? We’re still discovering how and why chronic inflammation occurs and how it is linked to disease. It may be caused by lingering infections, by abnormal immune reactions to normal tissues, or by conditions such as obesity.

Five Ways to Decrease Chronic Inflammation

What can we do to try to decrease chronic inflammation? Plenty. Whether you have a chronic illness or simply want to reduce your risk of chronic inflammation, follow these tips and you will be on the right track!

  1. Eat real food: I love food.It’s one of my favorite things to discuss with people. We need to shift away from the standard American diet. It’s full of processed, fried, highly refined food, with bad fats, artificial flavors and additives, and way too much sugar. A shift to a more plant-based, whole-food diet that’s free of common allergens and inflammation triggers is your best bet. Plants are full of anti-inflammatory elements, including magnesium and antioxidants. Grapes and red wine also are inflammation fighters. My Food for Fuel program offers such a diet.
  2. Move, move, move: Everything gets better with exercise. We are built to move. Couch surfing sucks the health right out of you.
  3. Eat fat: Be gone, low-fat and no-fat foods. It’s not the fat, but rather the type of fat that creates health instead of disease! For example, adding omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in some fish, like salmon, to your diet can help reduce inflammation.
  4. Wind down: If you’re too intense, learn to let go, relax and go with the flow to release your anti-inflammatory juju. If you have anxiety or depression, seek treatment to lower your stress levels and keep your immune system from kicking in unexpectedly.
  5. Beware of the toxins: We all know tobacco, street drugs and too much alcohol aren’t good for you. But what about other toxins in the environment? Eat organic food if possible, use natural cleaning products, stay away from BPA and other plastics that are full of hormone disruptors, and keep plants in your home and work space to clean the air. Every little bit helps!

You catch my drift. While you can’t control everything in your life, you can control a lot by tweaking your lifestyle to decrease your risk of chronic inflammation. Cool your internal fire and experience true health.

Want more?

  • Join me in Food for Fuel. We discuss ways to reduce inflammation through diet and identify your personal food triggers. We’ll interact in the private Facebook group and you’ll enjoy live check-ins from me.
  • Come see me in clinic! If you live in the Green Bay area, make an appointment so I can help identify your sources of inflammation and suggest steps you can take to cool your internal fire!
  • Click the image below to get access to my free resource library. You’ll find a free mini recipe book containing clean, simple recipes to help you start to combat inflammation starting today:

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