By now I am sure you have heard the new buzzword in healthcare, “inflammation.” Everyone is talking about it, so much that in 2004 Time magazine called inflammation a “secret killer.”
As a chiropractor, I probably mention inflammation to patients several times a day. So what is inflammation and why is it so bad?
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Inflammation is a part of our body’s natural healing process. Whenever our bodies are injured or require some type of healing, inflammation occurs to localize and remove the problematic agent. Inflammation also allows damaged cells and tissues to be cleared from the site and brings healthy white blood cells, proteins, and other components to the site of injury to continue the healing process. Acute inflammation, which is healthy, should only last for a few days. Anything longer than that is considered to be chronic inflammation and is a sign of the body not healing properly.
Chronic inflammation is not good for the body. It is the cause of allergic hypersensitivity, autoimmune illnesses, and inflammatory arthritides such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- For more in-depth information, see What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis? on Arthritis-health.com.
Chronic inflammation is now being associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, musculoskeletal degeneration, diabetes, aging, and obesity.
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So how does one develop chronic inflammation? Many factors can cause chronic inflammation. The most well known are poor diet, poor biomechanics, lack of exercise, stress, food allergens, environmental toxins, and infections (bacterial or viral). The majority of these causes can be reversed by simple changes in lifestyle.
Chiropractors can restore joint function and decrease inflammation
As a chiropractor, I understand that poor biomechanics and aberrant joint function can cause inflammation. When joints are misaligned, inflammation comes to the site. When inflammation stays in that joint it puts pressure on the nerve, leading to dysfunctional communication from the brain to the intended tissue. Therefore, one of my aims when treating patients is to restore proper joint function. I do this by properly aligning misaligned bones. By doing so, I hope to decrease and remove the inflammation that is present in the aberrant joint.
Your diet can affect inflammation
So, what can you do on your own to decrease the levels of inflammation in your body? The obvious solutions are to improve your diet, exercise, decrease stress, and improve your biomechanics by improving your joint function.
See Food for Thought: Diet and Nutrition for a Healthy Back.
Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can provoke inflammatory responses, so eating foods that aren’t high in those compounds can help. You can also counter inflammation by eating foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory effects.
Here is a list of foods that are recommended for an anti-inflammatory diet:
- Fruits (except oranges)
- Fatty fish
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Tart cherries
- Olive oil
These foods are recommended because they possess anti-inflammatory components like omega-3, calcium, fiber, vitamin E, iron, lycopene, betalains, allicin, and anthocyanins. Although this list contains foods that would surely fight off or decrease chronic inflammation, it is a general list. Therefore it’s not specific to any one person. For absolute clarity on the types of foods best for you, please consult your primary healthcare physician.
For an audio version of this list and more commentary, head over to my website to hear the podcast, “Anti-Inflammatory Diet.” You will also find links to listen on YouTube and Stitcher as well.