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What is Inflammation?

As functional health doctors, we often get questions about inflammation. Inflammation is a buzzword today as it relates to health and wellness…but what exactly is it?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response against things like infections, injuries and toxins. When something damages your cells, chemicals are released that trigger a response from the immune system. This response may include increased blood flow, causing redness and warmth over the area and sometimes swelling. This type of inflammation is known as acute and it is the body’s way of healing.

Chronic inflammation is the inflammatory response to long-term insults, injuries or toxins. Generally, the extent and effects of chronic inflammation vary with the cause of the injury and the ability of the body to repair and overcome the damage. A significant factor in dealing with chronic inflammation is everyday lifestyle choices.

Managing inflammation is important. Chronic inflammation can damage joints, arteries and organs. It is well-established that inflammation can be present without redness, heat, swelling and/or pain. Stress, lack of sleep, environmental toxins and diet are all major contributors to inflammation and can cause our cells to respond as if an infection or trauma were present. This is the case with certain types of arthritis and other auto-immune diseases.

Here are some tips to reduce inflammation in your body:

Sleep! Getting less than 6 hours of sleep can cause our cells to release white blood cells as a defense to perceived harm. Stress is known to cause sleep disorders. Since individuals with irregular sleep schedules are more likely to have chronic inflammation than consistent sleepers, sleep disorders are also considered as one of the independent risk factors for chronic inflammation.

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods! Grass-fed meat and wild game, wild caught fish/shellfish, chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, dark chocolate, red wine, green tea, and olive oil.

Eliminate/Reduce Pro-Inflammatory Foods!  sugar!, trans fat, refined grains, flour, refined omega-6 seed oils, preservatives and processed foods.

Exercise!  Physical activity lowers levels of a pro-inflammatory protein called TNF. At the same time, exercise causes your muscle cells to release another protein called Interleukin 6 which helps fight inflammation.Exercise is also an excellent way to deal with stress. 

Manage Your Stress! Both physical and emotional stress is associated with inflammatory cytokine release. When stressed, our body goes into the sympathetic nervous response, or fight-or-flight mode and releases cortisol (the stress hormone). Prolonged stress affects cortisol’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response and can wreak havoc on our immune system. Try meditation, yoga, journaling or some other method to decrease stress levels.

At Integrated Health Solutions, we go beyond the traditional model of reactive pain care. In addition to addressing the mechanical, functional and physical aspects of healthcare, we educate our patients on the other aspects of life that are contributing to dysfunction and offer a multifaceted approach to improving overall well-being. If you would like to learn more about how inflammation may be having a negative affect or your health, or for any other health concerns, please reach out to us today!

Content provided by Dr. Drew Hunt

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Integrated Health Solutions

Integrated Health Solutions