Inflammation is the body’s process of fighting against harmful infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system. This response includes the release of antibodies and proteins, as well as increased blood flow to the damaged area. The whole process can last anywhere from few hours to days.
Chronic inflammation happens when the immune response lingers longer than normal, leaving your body in a constant state of alertness. Over time, chronic inflammation can have a negative impact on your tissues and organs. Research suggests that chronic inflammation plays a role in a range of common health conditions from asthma to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
There’s no definitive answer as to why chronic inflammation occurs. But it’s clear that the immune system continues to act as if there’s a problem – either because one still exists or because the inflammatory response won’t switch off. Certain lifestyle factors can trigger chronic inflammation. If you want to reduce your chance of chronic inflammation, be sure to do the following:
- Quit Smoking – Toxic chemicals in tobacco products trigger an immune response in your respiratory system, putting your immune system on constant high alert.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – Researchers have found that fat cells cause an inflammatory immune response. The more fat cells you have, the greater the negative impact on your health. Maintaining a healthy weight can help avoid triggering inflammation.
- Exercise Regularly – A consistent exercise routine not only helps maintain a healthy weight but also produces anti-inflammatory effects. One study found that even a single 20-minute session of fast walking on a treadmill had a positive influence on the immune system. Exercise helps circulate anti-inflammatory substances.
- Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet – Go through your pantry and eliminate any processed foods, which can make inflammation worse. Instead, stock your fridge with whole foods. Fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and lean meats are all good choices that are packed with nutrients your body needs. A proven anti-inflammatory diet is the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on whole foods like these.
- Reduce Stress – The fight or flight stress response of our ancestors is rarely necessary anymore. These days people are more prone to being stressed out by relationships, work or everyday events. That constant stress leads to an overabundance of stress hormones, which produce an inflammatory response. You can reduce chronic inflammation by finding ways to lower your stress levels. Consider relaxation strategies such as yoga or tai chi.