You might think that inflammation is a side effect of many health problems. But in fact, it’s often the underlying cause. Managing systemic inflammation—and reducing the damage it causes to your body—is crucial for overall health and wellness.
What is Inflammation? In short, inflammation is your body’s immune response to toxins—or what it perceives as toxins. Physical changes occur in your body as it activates to fight “intruders,” engaging white blood cells, antibodies, and more. Everything from stress to weight problems to a lack of sleep can affect your system and activate inflammation.
However, it isn’t always easy to detect inflammation if your symptoms aren’t visible. For example, allergies and acne can even result from an overload of toxins in your body.
How Does Inflammation Affect the Body? Inflammation is a common factor in—and contributes to—many diseases, Harvard Health highlights. Symptoms of systemic inflammation can include skin conditions, allergies, and even serious health risks like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Scientists have also found links between inflammation and conditions as severe as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, inflammation can also cause pain, heat, swelling, redness, and lack of function in your joints and tissues.
But a surprising link between mental health and inflammation also exists. As Psychiatric Times explains, the same brain states which result in mental illness can also create inflammation. Environmental factors can worsen inflammation, which can, in turn, increase mental or emotional issues—making for a more complex scenario than researchers previously thought.
How to Minimize Toxicity at the Cellular Level It’s hard to look at our daily habits and recognize what impacts us on a cellular level. In today’s world, pollution and unhealthy diets are high on the list of risks to your microbiome. Here are a few ways to minimize toxicity at the cellular level by making smart changes to your habits.
Change Your Diet Dietary changes are a huge help when it comes to minimizing cellular toxicity. After all, the food you eat passes through your body, touching nearly every system. “Bad” foods are often responsible for activating immune responses and triggering inflammation. Healthy changes you can incorporate for your system include:
· Consuming more fiber
· Avoiding toxic foods like non-organic dairy and eggs, fish with high mercury content, and toxic produce
· Filtering the air in your home
· Drinking more water
To help eliminate toxins from your system, you can also take steps like drinking green tea daily and consuming more green veggies.
Learn About Your Microbiome Your microbiome is an essential part of your body’s immune response, and the majority of it lives in your gut. In short, the microbiome contains millions of bacteria—good bacteria—which protect your body. These bacteria help process food via digestion, enhance your immune system, and can even influence your emotional health. Having a healthy microbiome is one crucial step toward lowering inflammation.
Fortunately, supporting your microbiome is as simple as incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into your body. Prebiotics are healthy food for bacteria, which helps them thrive. Probiotics are additional bacteria to support a lowered immune system or unhealthy microbiome. Prebiotics are naturally occurring in foods like bananas, garlic, and onions, while probiotics are found in pickled cucumbers and yogurt.
Add Exercise to Your Routine Experts note that regular, moderate exercise is key in preventing degenerative inflammatory problems. Even 20 minutes of exercise can have an anti-inflammatory effect on your system. Exercise encourages the release of hormones in your bloodstream, which then triggers receptors in your immune cells. Essentially, as you exercise, fewer inflammatory proteins respond to the hormones, meaning a lower overall immune response.
Get Enough (Deep) Sleep A lack of sleep can affect your life in potentially critical ways. Falling asleep at the wheel, for example, could land you in the hospital or worse. But sleep also impacts your microbiome, and a lack of it only increases inflammation in your body. Pro-inflammatory bodies propagate when you experience sleep deprivation, so regular rest is essential.
Inflammation can be burdensome, but it is manageable. By changing your diet, setting aside time for sleep and exercise, and doing things you enjoy, not only can you reduce inflammation, but you can also feel less stressed.
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