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The Silent Disease: How Chronic Inflammation Can Affect Your Health

Have you ever had one of those days where you just don’t feel good, but you can’t put your finger on why? You may be experiencing some level of chronic inflammation. Contrary to what many believe, chronic inflammation is not always caused by an infection or foreign body. It’s often the result of long-standing problems like obesity or a poor diet. Left untreated, chronic inflammation can have serious consequences for your health. So how do you know if you have chronic inflammation, and what can you do about it? Read on to find out.

Inflammation is a natural part of the human body. You scrape your elbow. It triggers a host of reactions: bleeding, clot, redness, swelling, scab, and then new skin growth. This is part of the healing process. 
Acute inflammation is good, and we need to be able to repair injuries. The negative issues arise with chronic longstanding inflammation, inflammation that hangs around, sets us up for chronic disease, and diminished quality of life. Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, digestive upset, and more. 

Let me break down what inflammation is, what it does for us, and why you should care about it.

Inflammation is a natural response of the body’s immune system to injury or illness. It’s important to know that inflammation is not always bad. It can be an essential part of your body’s healing processes, especially during acute injuries. 


Inflammation becomes troublesome when it hangs around too long. We call that chronic inflammation. Your body is supposed to respond and then heal from an injury, not continue to respond day after day, month after month. 


Chronic inflammation can lead to some very serious health problems if left unchecked. Inflammation may lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses. 


Do you suffer from allergies that last all year long? Or do you struggle with digestive upset that seems to just be worsening over time? These two are signs of inflammation.


Allergies for a long time can cause the body to have an inflammatory response. This is kind of like when a light switch is turned on, and it causes the body to release histamine and mucus to fight what it thinks is an attack. Likewise, an inflamed digestive system won’t be able to relax if irritating foods continue to be introduced. The body, doesn’t get a break and thereby stays in this long-term inflamed state.


How do we reduce the inflammation in our bodies? There are many ways. 


Inflammation is a natural response of the body to fight off harmful invaders or repair damaged tissues. However, if inflammation becomes overly triggered or persists for too long, it can lead to serious health problems. There are a number of factors that contribute to inflammation in the body, including poor diet and lifestyle choices. Let’s head on to it: inflammation busters.


        1. Eating whole foods


When it comes to eating, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the quality of your food. Whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, nuts and seeds, are a much better choice than processed foods. These whole foods contain all of their essential nutrients intact and provide your body with the fuel that it needs to function at its best.


How do you know if something is processed? 


Generally speaking, if it comes in a bag, a box or a can, and it has taken many steps to get it into that form, it’s processed. It’s far removed from nature or to its natural state. 


Let’s take a Cheez-It, for example. Do Cheez-Its grow on a farm? No, but wheat, milk, and cheese do come from farms. However, how many steps of processing does it take to make a Cheez-It? I would guess at least 15 or 20 steps so that it qualifies as processed food. 


Let’s take another example: tomato sauce. Tomatoes come from a farm, but tomato sauce doesn’t. How many steps does it take to make tomato sauce from tomatoes? You put the tomatoes in a pot, turn on the heat, add basil, onion, salt, and water. It takes somewhere between one and three steps. Tomato sauce is minimally processed. Now, you get the idea. 


Five powerful foods and or supplements that help fight inflammation. 


⦿ Whether you are a nutritionist, healthcare professional, or simply someone looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle, incorporating leafy greens into your diet is essential. Leafy greens are powerful foods that contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, helping to protect the body from disease and reduce the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and more. Some of the best leafy greens include spinach, lettuce, bok choy, Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula, marshae, and even butter leaf lettuce. Aim for 2-3 cups of these nutrient-rich veggies every day to reap their powerful health benefits! So whether you’re adding them to your smoothie in the morning or sauteing them in olive oil for dinner, be sure to make leafy greens a staple in your diet for optimal health and wellness.


⦿ When it comes to powerful foods and supplements that can help fight inflammation, dark or brightly colored fruits are a top choice for many people. Berries, figs, cherries, red apples, oranges, papaya, and mango are all rich in powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins that help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Additionally, these fruits are bursting with important vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium that bolster our overall health by boosting energy levels and regulating key physiological processes. Whether eaten on their own or incorporated into delicious smoothies and salads, dark or brightly colored fruits are always a smart choice for those looking to optimally nourish their bodies.


⦿ Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is found in the spice turmeric, and supplements are typically made from curcumin extract. Curcumin is thought to be one of the most powerful foods or supplements for fighting inflammation. It is effective in reducing inflammation in a wide variety of conditions, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease. Curcumin is also being studied for its potential to prevent or treat cancer. Although more research is needed, the available evidence suggests that curcumin may be a promising natural treatment for many chronic diseases. It’s fat-soluble and can be taken in capsules with meals to be properly absorbed.


⦿ Boswellia is another powerful anti-inflammatory supplement derived from Indian frankincense. This has been well-studied for arthritis, pain, and inflammation. It’s very safe and free from side effects, unlike pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs. 


⦿ Melatonin is best known as a sleep aid, but this powerful hormone does much more than help us get a good night’s rest. Melatonin has been clinically proven to increase the body’s immune capabilities to fight viruses, bacteria, and parasites. This lowers inflammation caused by chronic infections. In addition, melatonin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects that can help to reduce the symptoms of conditions like arthritis and asthma.


        2. Exercising regularly


Sitting down for long periods can be bad news. You might have heard that sitting is now considered to be as dangerous and unhealthy, if not worse than smoking.

According to a new study, Americans spend more than half their waking hours sitting. This Increases your risks for blood clots, swelling, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. 

Any movement is a good movement. Start with taking a 20-minute walk each day. You can even divide it up into two 10 -minute walks. Make it a habit, and it will be something that you look forward to, and it’ll be good for your health.


        3. Getting good sleep and sleeping well.


Sleep is essential for keeping inflammation in check. By simply going to bed before midnight, waking up in the early morning light, we’re taking part in the natural rhythm. Women who stay up late and sleep in late, and who have difficulty sleeping, have more inflammation. The rule here is to go to sleep with the birds and wake up with the birds. Birds follow the natural rhythm. We are a part of that rhythm.


In our discussion earlier, I mentioned melatonin, known as a sleep aid. Melatonin has been clinically proven to increase the body’s immune capabilities to fight viruses. Bacteria and parasites, which in turn lowers our level of inflammation caused by chronic infections. As we age melatonin production can diminish. Difficulty falling asleep can be a sign of a melatonin deficiency.


        4. Managing our stress levels


It’s important to build something just for you into each day. Some way for you to have fun and incorporate laughter., honestly, are some of the best ways to manage stress. Other things to do may include: practicing mindfulness techniques, such as breathing, prayer, meditation, or yoga. 


What happens when we breathe deeply? It sends oxygen to every cell in the body. The carbon dioxide waste manufactured from many chemical processes is expelled as we breathe out.  Most of us breathe in a shallow way without engaging the diaphragm. If you’re not sure if you’re breathing deeply, you could try a deep sigh to get things moving. You want to aim for about 10 breaths a minute, breathing in through your nose and releasing completely out through your mouth.


Breathing and relaxation go hand in hand. With deeper breaths. The parasympathetic nervous system takes over and this lowers heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels. High cortisol is linked with high inflammation. 


Chronic inflammation is one of the main reasons behind chronic disease epidemic that we have these days. It makes sense then to help reduce inflammation naturally. While inflammation is a natural process that helps our body heal and fight infection, chronic long-standing inflammation can wreak havoc on our health if left unchecked. Luckily, there are many things we can do to help reduce inflammation. If you’re concerned about inflammation and its effects on your health, schedule a discovery call with us today. We’d be happy to discuss how we could help you reduce inflammation through diet, lifestyle changes, and targeted supplementation. Thanks for reading!


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DISCLAIMER:  The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional 

Dr. Andrea Purcell

A trusted and well-respected Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Purcell has been in private practice for over twenty years. Dr. Purcell is a published author and has a women’s specialty practice for hormone balancing, weight loss, mystery illness, and gastro-intestinal concerns. Dr. Purcell assists her patients by identifying the underlying cause of disease and removing obstacles that impede the body's natural ability to heal. Drugs and surgery are used as a last resort. She believes that increasing health on the inside shines through to the outside.