Did you know, if you’ve ever twisted your ankle, jammed your thumb in a drawer, been plagued by Covid-19, been bitten by a mosquito or suffered from viral fever, your body has experienced inflammation?
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal bodily response of your body’s way of fighting off infection and healing the damage. Your immune system creates inflammation to protect your body from infections and injuries. Inflammation is a vital immune system response but too much inflammation in the body can be detrimental.
Unfortunately, not all inflammation is protective, sometimes your body can attack itself and the healthy cells in your body which leads to autoimmune diseases.
Fortunately, certain lifestyle changes can reduce and control inflammation in your body.
But first, it’s important to know the two kinds of inflammation, symptoms of inflammation and how to diagnose inflammation.
Inflammation is classified into two main types:
- Acute inflammation- this is inflammation for a short period of time, often two weeks or less.This type of inflammation is to ward off infections or injuries and restore your body to its original state.
- Chronic inflammation- is a slow and less severe form of inflammation. It can occur without illness or injury and persist well beyond the healing period. Chronic inflammation is linked to autoimmune disorders.
Symptoms of inflammation:
Heat, pain, redness and swelling, loss of function in the inflamed area, body pain, cognitive problems like loss of memory, numbness, tingling in your joints and nerves, stability and balance problems, constant fatigue and insomnia, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhoea, bleeding ulcers and acid reflux, weight gain or weight loss and frequent infections in illnesses.
Look out for these signs and symptoms to tell if there is any inflammation in your body. The specific symptoms that appear depend on the location of inflammation in your body. Long-term inflammation can lead to serious problems so it’s important to check by a health professional without any delays.
How is inflammation diagnosed?
The first step to diagnosing inflammation and reducing it is to assess how much the inflammation affects your body.
- Blood tests- There are a few non specific markers that can help diagnose inflammation in the body. This means that they pick up abnormal levels in your body and show that something is wrong but it can’t point out what exactly is the cause of inflammation. The names of these blood tests are
- Serum protein electrophoresis (SPE)
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Plasma viscosity
- Your doctor can recommend other specific blood tests based on their diagnosis.
- Other diagnostic tests- other tests like a CT scan, MRI, X-ray or sonography can be used to diagnose an inflammatory response in your body.
Ageing is part of life and slowing down (both physically and mentally) is a part of ageing.
Unfortunately, with it also comes physical ageing like weakening organs, tissues and muscles.
“Inflamm-ageing” is a type of inflammation that is age related. The good news is that you can manage inflammation as you get older. The rate at which you age all comes down to your actions. These actions can either accelerate or delay ageing. Take the following steps to help you age gracefully (inside and out) and slow down inflamm-ageing.
How to age gracefully and avoid inflammation by making some lifestyle changes
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet- Your diet should be jam packed with antioxidant foods which manage inflamm-ageing incredibly. Opting for a Mediterranean diet is also a good idea to keep your inflammation levels low. Foods like blueberries, cherries, oranges, strawberries, salmon sardines, kale and spinach, almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, olive oil (virgin and extra virgin) and whole grains should be included in your diet. Steer clear of refined carbohydrates, high fat dairy, sugar, fried foods, red meat and processed meat, these have inflammation written all over them.
- Spice it up- Curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric, is bursting with antiinflammatory properties. Spice up your curries, veggies, milk or grains with turmeric for an added anti “inflamm-ageing” boost.
- Boost your omega-3s- Omega-3 fatty acids boast of anti inflammatory properties. You can add it to your diet through salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, flaxseeds, extra virgin olive oil and walnuts.
- Supplementing- While eating a colourful diet is important, we can miss out on some essential nutrients. This is when supplements come in. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, alpha lipoic acid, cayenne, curcumin, ginger, garlic, resveratrol, spirulina, turmeric are some supplements known to reduce inflammation. However, be sure to consult a health professional before taking any vitamins and supplements.
- Say no to smoking- Smoking is injurious to health. Its time we listen to the advertisement that plays before every movie in the cinema hall. Smoking introduces thousands of toxins into your body which increases inflammation and puts you at risk of cancer, heart and lung diseases and other health issues.
- Move your body- Exercise is so important for your mind, soul and most importantly your body. Physical activity can significantly reduce inflammation in your body by flushing out all the toxins. Walking, light stretching, dancing, yoga, going to the gym, swimming or cycling, do whatever works for you. Household chores like vacuuming or gardening also count as exercise. Any exercise is better than no exercise.
- Sleep- Lack of sleep can cause inflammation. Getting enough restful sleep, restful being the keyword is essential for your body to recover and keep inflammation at bay.
- Say “Sayonara” to stress- It’s impossible to have a stress free life but limiting it can help stamp out excess inflammation. Meditate, practice mindfulness, do things that make you happy, spend time with people or animals, go outdoors or listen to music. Whatever helps you unwind and lower your stress levels in your life is what you should be doing.
Start small. You can make a few changes in your diet, start exercising and practising stress free activities. These small changes can have a big impact on your life.
Inflammation is a normal and natural part of your body’s immune response. But if you’re concerned about inflamm-ageing affecting you, incorporate these lifestyle changes and notice the difference it can make.
Stay consistent and stay healthy!