Inflammation has been found to be the root cause of many chronic health conditions. But what is inflammation and how can you lower it and reduce the risk of disease? It’s impossible to treat inflammation with just one approach or one system of medicine! That’s why at CentreSpringMD, we use an integrative and functional medicine approach to evaluate your inflammation, keep it low and prevent future diseases.
What is inflammation? Inflammation is not always a bad thing. It is a response in your body typically caused by an acute injury of some sort. This could be as simple as high stress, a muscular injury, surgery or even an infection. In these cases inflammation is a normal part of your body’s immune response. When inflammation starts to wreak havoc on our bodies is when it is unresolved and turns into a chronic state. Things in our everyday life can contribute to increasing inflammation: emotional stress, a diet high in sugar or processed foods, poor digestive health, exposure to toxins. When the stimulus is ongoing your immune response keeps working but is unsuccessful which then leads to an increase in inflammation. The chronic inflammation then changes your immune system and activates genetics leading to disease. Your genetics play a role in determining what disease process will or will not be activated by the chronic inflammatory response. Nearly all diseases result from some form of chronic inflammation. Some major examples include: Arthritis, ADHD, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Autism, Crohn’s and Colitis, Acne, Multiple Sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases like Lupus.
So how do you know if you have chronic inflammation? Some signs and symptoms to look out for include:
- Cognitive decline
- Brain Fog
- Joint Pain
If you have any of these, you may have chronic inflammation. Reach out to your integrative health care provider to have them see if inflammation is the cause of your symptoms. By running simple blood tests we can determine if you are showing any signs of early or chronic inflammation.
Integrative Treatment Approach:
So now that we have discussed what inflammation is, how it affects your health and how to determine whether or not you have inflammation, the next step is to discuss how to prevent and treat inflammation with a holistic approach. The integrative approach here at CentreSpringMD looks at several main concepts outlined below:
One great way to reduce inflammation is through foods. A diet high in processed foods and sugars can cause a chronic inflammatory state. Through altering diet alone you can see huge differences in your overall health and wellbeing and decrease your risk for disease.
- Focus on a whole foods diet. Reduce or eliminate refined sugar, caffeine and white flour and minimize processed snacks and meats.
- Decrease your amount of animal protein you consume. It is OK to include fish and some high-quality natural cheese and yogurt.
- Choose sprouted flours and nuts and cook with olive oil, ghee and unrefined coconut oil.
- Eat fruits and vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum, and loads of cruciferous vegetables. Eat dark, leafy greens, berries and orange and yellow fruits often.
- Increase foods in your diet that are high in omega-3s like wild salmon and herring (consuming at least two to three times a week). You can also include chia seeds and flax seeds in your diet to boost your Omega 3s.
- Frequently cook with anti-inflammatory foods and spices like garlic, turmeric and ginger.
Management of the Microbiome:
- Take a high-quality probiotic daily and eat probiotic-rich foods like Kefir, homemade sauerkraut and kombucha.
- Test for food allergies or sensitivities or look-up how to do the elimination diet. Food sensitivities and allergies irritate a weakened stomach lining and can trigger additional inflammation.
Elimination of Toxins:
Remove these offenders from your diet, home and personal products.
- Atrazine (often in produce, so buy organic)
- Phthalates (cosmetics, plastic wrap with recycle label #3 on it, some plastic children’s toys and containers)
- BPA (canned foods, so go fresh)
- Dioxin (animal products, so reduce protein from animal sources)
- Perchlorate (use a reverse osmosis water filter)
- Fire retardants (padding in old carpet or old foam couches)
- Lead (old and crumbling paint, water)
- Arsenic (in drinking water and food)
- Mercury (certain fish, sushi)
- Per fluorinated chemicals, PFCs (non-stick cookware)
- Glycol Ethers (paint, cosmetics, household cleaners)
- Organophosphate pesticides (produce, so research which produce items that must be bought organic)
Understanding your genetics:
Genetics can be an important component to how and why your body responds to inflammation. Your genetic makeup does not write your future health story, but it is important to understand your genes so that you are able to manage them for prevention of disease. Inflammation can activate your genes which can put you at higher risk for certain cancers, heart disease, dementia and many more. Depending on your genetic predispositions, chronic inflammation can activate different disease states. Work with your health care provider to determine which of your genes might be putting you at higher risk and determine a preventative treatment plan.
Lifestyle Balance and Stress Management:
So many people forget about this aspect of your health and wellbeing. It is important to take a step back and evaluate your lifestyle to determine if it enhances your health or is detrimental to it.
- Assess career and work demands and balance them with your health needs and goals.
- Practice self-care on a regular basis: making time for yourself through regular massage, meditation/prayer, exercise and relaxation.
- End toxic relationships and practice forgiveness, moving on, and finding more positive influences.
As we continue to look at health in a holistic and integrative way, it is exciting to find answers to the root causes of diseases that were once thought to have no known cause. By taking an integrative approach to lowering inflammation you can reduce your risk and optimize your health! If you think inflammation could be the cause of your symptoms, begin making some of these changes today!