Hello everyone Floyd Meyer here I am a Physician Assistant with a Master’s in public health, a degree in molecular biology, and I am currently working in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Today we are continuing our series on Resilience which is the ability to remain well, recover, or even thrive in the face of adversity.
This week we are going to dive into all things inflammation. What is inflammation, how inflammation impacts resilience, and some basic steps we can take to decrease chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s response to a stressful event or experience. The immune system acts to buffer the increased stress, clean up any damage that has occurred, and initiate the healing process.
Most people imagine inflammation as a bad thing that needs to be fought. For instance, when your ankle gets red and swollen following an injury, but in fact inflammation is a necessary step in the healing process.
So why does inflammation get such a bad rap? The reason is because there is a big difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation is like the example we just discussed. There is an acute injury like rolling your ankle. The body then responds by sending inflammatory cells to stabilize the joint with swelling and clean up any damage that may have occurred. This process will generally last 1-72 hours
The damaging effects of inflammation happen when this process continues day after day becoming systemic chronic inflammation. This chronic inflammation can be caused by numerous sources including:
- Chronic bacterial, fungal, or viral infections.
- Continual exposure to foreign irritating chemicals like cigarette smoke, unhealthy foods, industrial chemicals, etc.
- Autoimmune diseases where the immune system is attacking a part of your own body as if it is foreign.
- Biochemical and metabolic dysregulation.
Other risk factors include;
- Increased age
- A diet high in refined carbohydrates and trans-fats
- Sleep disturbance
- Increased stress levels
When an individual is chronically inflamed this causes numerous deleterious effects on the different systems throughout the body decreasing our overall resilience. Research is now linking chronic inflammation to virtually all diseases from cancer, to neurological disease, heart disease, chronic pain, and many others.
Now that we understand the role that inflammation plays in the body and its effects on resilience, what can we do to decrease our chronic inflammation? There are a number of basic steps one can take to decrease their inflammation. This list is by no means comprehensive, but I want to give you somewhere to start to improve your overall resilience.
Step 1 to reducing levels of inflammation in your body is to remove the offending agent. You can’t get better if your system is constantly reacting with pro-inflammatory molecules. This includes treating any underlying infections, removing irritating chemicals like cigarette smoke, and eliminating foods that you are sensitive or allergic to.
Step 2 includes adding in anti-inflammatory compounds. Colorful foods have a variety of anti-inflammatory compounds in them that can help bring your body back into homeostasis. Foods like blueberries, raspberries, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and spices like turmeric and ginger all can help lower your inflammation levels. Also, you can consider adding in specific supplements like omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin D which can both be potent anti-inflammatories.
Step 3 is getting physical exercise. When you exercise you are stressing your body, but it is an acute reaction, and as such your body actually upregulates processes that help you to reduce that inflammation. This effect lasts long after you stop exercising lowering your overall inflammation levels. Also, exercise helps to reduce stress levels and stress whether physical or psychological increases levels of inflammation in the body.
Step 4 would be to get your body on a schedule. Our bodies follow an internal daily cycle. We are meant to be awake and eating during the day and asleep and fasting at night. When we deviate from this pattern our biochemical pathways become dysregulated which leads to higher levels of inflammation. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night and following a Time Restricted Eating schedule where you eat only during a 12-hour window can do wonders for your overall inflammation levels. If you want to learn more about either of those make sure to check out my previous videos and blog posts as I have made it as easy as possible for you to implement both of these practices!
This list is both a lot to act on and at the same time, it only scratches the surface of what it takes to reduce chronic inflammation levels. These recommendations will always need to be tailored specifically to you in order to get the best results.
Inflammation is an extremely important component of resilience, and in order to have a resilient mind and body we need to do what we can to reduce chronic systemic inflammation. For more about inflammation make sure to check out my previous videos.
I hope that this has been helpful. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below. If this resonated with you please share with your friends and family and subscribe and follow for more of this content. The time for action is now. Again this is Floyd Meyer. Have a great day!
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