Do You Know if You Have Chronic Inflammation?
For a long time, the word inflammation has meant the red, puffy skin around a cut that signals your immune system is fighting off infection. But in recent years, doctors have identified a different kind of inflammation—one that happens deep in your body and that could be the root cause of serious health issues like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and allergies. It has also been linked to arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
Because chronic inflammation is all internal, it’s also known as “hidden inflammation.” Here’s what happens deep in your body: Something triggers the immune system—it could be chronic pain, ongoing infections, allergies, obesity or even gum disease. Whatever the root cause is, the result is that the immune system is under the impression that there’s something to heal, so it constantly releases white blood cells. Over time, those immune cells eventually interfere with internal organs and other healthy cells in the body.
Is there a way to fight it?
While you might not be able to rid your body completely of inflammation, there are some steps you can take to reduce it.
- Get enough sleep.
- Reduce your waist size. If you carry too much weight around your middle, you have a higher risk of inflammation. Women should try to keep their waist size less than 35 inches while men should keep theirs less than 40 inches around.
- Limit stress.
- Keep your teeth and gums happy. Good dental habits—like flossing and brushing twice a day—can reduce risk for gum disease and, therefore, inflammation.
- Restore balance to your gut by taking probiotics.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Avoid tobacco.
- Eat healthy. Certain foods either cause or fight inflammation, so it’s important to make smart choices about your diet. Sugar, saturated fats, trans fats and refined carbohydrates can all trigger inflammation. For people who are trying to eat healthier, some experts recommend an “anti-inflammatory” diet, which is similar to the Mediterranean diet and includes fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, fish and very little red meat.
Cutting down on inflammation isn’t the only way to reduce your risk for serious diseases. Check out these blogs to see more steps you can take:
- Want to Lower Your Cancer Risk? What You Put on Your Plate Matters
- Cancer Prevention Tips: A Workout a Day Helps Keep Cancer Away
- Five Ways to Prevent Diabetes
If reducing your risk for disease is a priority, check out #HealthyMe, a personalized web experience based on your health and wellness goals. To sign up today, visit http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/healthyme.
Photo credit: A m o r e Caterina