Chronic inflammation is a common but serious condition that can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression. In essence, it is an ongoing state of metabolic turmoil that your immune system identifies as infectious. To fight off the perceived threat, your body produces mononuclear white blood cells to surround and attack the invaders, causing low-grade swelling and inflammation throughout your body. With nowhere to go, and no actual invaders to attack, the white blood cells may eventually start attacking internal organs or other necessary tissues and cells.
The typical American lifestyle is often busy and stressful. Maintaining high levels of stress over long durations of time has been found to change gene activity in the immune system that triggers an inflammatory response. Chronic overeating, too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined grains, processed foods and excessive alcohol consumption may also trigger chronic inflammation. Inflammation is linked to depression and difficulty sleeping, which can increase stress, creating a vicious cycle. A 2015 study in “JAMA Psychiatry” found that people with depression had 30 percent more brain inflammation than those who were not depressed.
Regular physical activity and intermittent fasting have been shown to reduce inflammation. A reduced calorie whole foods diet like the Mediterranean diet, with high vegetable consumption and limited meat and dairy positively effects inflammation reduction. Stress management may be the most beneficial way to reduce inflammation. Stress is often linked to overeating and excess alcohol consumption. Daily meditation, mind-body exercise like yoga, qigong and tai chi, spending time in nature, and lifestyle changes that allow time for rest and recreation will reduce stress and benefit your health over the long run.
Foods that Help
To reduce inflammation, choose whole foods with protective antioxidants and polyphenols like green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, apples, berries, watermelon, pineapple, nuts, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, coffee and red wine. Use organic coconut oil and cold pressed virgin olive oil for cooking. Avoid refined grains, sugar, fruit juice and soft drinks, refined vegetable oils, margarine, shortening, deep fried foods and processed meats. Eat butter, eggs and other animal products from sustainable organic pasture-raised sources.
Healthy nutrition goes hand-in-hand with physical fitness. As the saying goes, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” Whether you want to learn the basics or keep up with the latest, W.I.T.S. has course offerings to meet your needs. Bite into the basics with Certified Personal Trainer or Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Take a stab at Nutrition Concepts or Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Dig into Pregnancy Fitness or Older Adult Fitness Foundations. Feed your brain with continuing education from any of our awesome CEC bundles!
Bruun, JM et al. (2006). Diet and exercise reduce low-grade inflammation and macrophage infiltration in adipose tissue but not in skeletal muscle in severely obese subjects. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, 290(5), 961-967.
EurekAlert!: New biological evidence reveals link between brain inflammation and major depression (2015, January 28). Retrieved from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-01/cfaa-nbe012615.php.
Foods that fight inflammation (2015, October 26). Harvard Health. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
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