Is your body maintaining a healthy inflammatory response?
If you overuse a back muscle through overexertion, your body reacts with symptoms such as swelling, pain, redness or loss of function. This acute inflammation is a healthy but temporary response to heal your injury.
But there is another type of inflammation that is not so beneficial.
Inflammation in overdrive
Unfortunately, many people live with immune systems in overdrive, which compromises the body's ability to maintain optimal health. While acute inflammation targets a local area (e.g. your back muscles), a suboptimal inflammatory response affects the entire body (systemic inflammatory response).
This inflammatory process can go unnoticed for many years and ultimately have negative effects on health. The aging process itself leads to a buildup of harmful inflammatory cytokines.
This inflammatory condition triggers the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that affect immune function. These chemicals can help immune cells communicate and direct them to the area that needs support.
Cytokines have both pro- and anti-inflammatory effects. For good health, your body must achieve a balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Many health experts believe that reducing this underlying systemic inflammation contributes to optimal health. Of course, the body still needs to be able to respond appropriately with an acute immune response if necessary.
Many research studies have demonstrated this connection between inflammatory response and cardiovascular health. For example, a study published in the journal Circulation looked at 2,225 participants between the ages of 70 and 79. The results showed that inflammatory markers were significantly elevated in subjects who did not have optimal cardiovascular health.
A healthy inflammatory response also impacts brain health. The brain contains immune cells called microglia that can secrete chemicals that affect the brain's inflammatory response. The ability to maintain a balanced inflammatory response helps support memory and brain function.
In older adults, microglia are in a state called "primed." This causes them to react more strongly when the immune system is triggered.
Now that you've seen that maintaining a balanced inflammatory response is the key to optimal health, you'll discover how to protect yourself. First, let’s look at what triggers or promotes inflammation.
What causes excessive inflammation?
In addition to the aging process, many other factors influence the ability to support a balanced inflammatory response
- Excessive stress
- Obesity or overweight
- Lack of exercise
- high blood sugar levels
- Poor diet
- Inadequate sleep
- inadequate oral health
- Reduced levels of sex hormones
- Mood swings
How to support a healthy balance of inflammatory responses
With so many potential factors that can cause inflammation, it's important to take steps to support healthy levels of inflammation in your body. Here are eleven tips:
- Eat plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables every day, such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, garlic, onions, and others.
- Maintain good oral hygiene, which impacts healthy inflammation and heart health.
- Get moderate exercise most days of the week.
- Make sure you get 7 to 9 hours of healthy sleep every night . Set up your bedroom to promote sleep, keep it free of light-emitting devices and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
- Work with your doctor to get to your optimal weight. Fat cells, especially those in belly fat, interfere with healthy levels of inflammation.
- Include plenty of antioxidants in your diet. You have seen that free radicals and oxidation affect the inflammatory response. That's why antioxidant nutrients can support healthy levels of inflammation. Antioxidants are particularly important for older people. Aging leads to a decrease in the body's ability to protect itself from free radical damage. In addition to food, you can also increase your antioxidant intake through supplements. Vitamin C and various other vitamins are antioxidants. There are also many antioxidant nutrients, including polyphenols such as resveratrol and others.
- Reduce your sugar consumption. Sugar also influences free radical production and the healthy inflammatory response.
- Reduce your intake of omega-6 oils and neutral animal fats found in many processed foods, baked goods, salad dressings and vegetable oils. These are highly refined oils that go rancid and oxidize, forming annoying free radicals.
- Instead, consume more omega-3 fatty acids and other monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Sources include rapeseed oil, olive oil, linseed oil, hemp oil or high-quality nutritional supplements from cold water fish, such as: B. Krill.
- Look for new ways to reduce your stress levels, as stress affects healthy inflammation in the body. Apply relaxation techniques, take a yoga class, spend more time in nature, and connecting with family can help reduce everyday stress.
- Ask your doctor to do a CRP or C-reactive protein test, which is a nonspecific measure of the body's inflammation. This test is relatively inexpensive and while it doesn't show where the inflammation is located, it is a marker of how inflamed your body is at the time of the test.
You've seen how inflammation affects your health. Please try some of these simple strategies to promote a healthy inflammatory response and optimal wellness.