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The Pros and Cons of Inflammation

person with knee painInflammation is a natural process that starts your body’s healing process and helps your body defend itself from harm. It increases the blood flow to an area so that more anti-inflammatories and oxygen can come, and more toxins and carbon dioxide can be taken away. It also causes swelling, which is our body’s way of restricting movement and protecting an area, if you twist your ankle it swells up so much you can barely use it, therefore acting like a natural splint.

Although there is a place for inflammation in our bodies and it is essential for our bodies to heal, it’s not good for us when we are exposed for it for too long, this is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation occurs when the body continues to send inflammatory markers to an area that no longer needs it, this can lead to damage to our healthy cells. A lot of chronic diseases are linked to chronic inflammation, for example, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancers.

Ways You Can Reduce Inflammation

  • Food: There are many foods/drinks that are linked to inflammation in the body, e.g. sugary/sweetened drinks, white bread, processed meat and snacks, crisps, excessive alcohol consumption. There are also many anti-inflammatory foods, e.g. a Mediterranean diets are linked to reducing inflammatory markers, vegetables (kale, broccoli, cabbage), Fruit – especially deeply coloured like grapes, Turmeric, Cinnamon, dark chocolate and healthy fats (Olive oil).
  • Smoking: tobacco has been shown to increase inflammation throughout the whole body!
  • Sleep: Routinely getting 6 or less hours of sleep a night has been shown to trigger inflammation.
  • Walking: A study showed that getting 20 minutes of walking a day reduces inflammatory markers.
  • Breathwork: Studies have shown that doing breathing exercises help to lower inflammatory markers in the body.
  • Ice/cold exposure: Decreased blood flow to the area and therefore reduced the inflammatory response.
There is a time and a place for Inflammation but there is no place for chronic inflammation!

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