What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a process by which your body’s white blood cells and the things they make protect you from infection from outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.
But in some diseases, like arthritis, your body’s defense system your immune system triggers inflammation when there are no invaders to fight off. In these autoimmune diseases, your immune system acts as if regular tissues are infected or somehow unusual, causing damage.
Inflammation can be either short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic). Acute inflammation goes away within hours or days. Chronic inflammation can last months or years, even after the first trigger is gone. Conditions linked to chronic inflammation include:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Inflammation and Arthritis
Some types of arthritis are the result of inflammation, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Gouty arthritis
Other painful conditions of the joints and musculoskeletal system that may not be related to inflammation include osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, and muscular neck pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Inflammation?
Symptoms of inflammation include:
- A swollen joint that may be warm to the touch
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- A joint that doesn’t work as well as it should
Often, you’ll have only a few of these symptoms.
Inflammation may also cause flu-like symptoms including:
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
What Causes Inflammation, and What Are Its Effects?
When inflammation happens, chemicals from your body’s white blood cells enter your blood or tissues to protect your body from invaders. This raises the blood flow to the area of injury or infection. It can cause redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause fluid to leak into your tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process may trigger nerves and cause pain.
Higher numbers of white blood cells and the things they make inside your joints cause irritation, swelling of the joint lining, and loss of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones) over time.
ways of reducing Chronic inflammation
Load up on anti-inflammatory foods
Your food choices are just as important as the medications and supplements you may be taking for overall health since they can protect against inflammation.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the best sources of omega-3s are cold water fish, such as salmon and tuna, and tofu, walnuts, flax seeds and soybeans.
Other anti-inflammatory foods include grapes, celery, blueberries, garlic, olive oil, tea and some spices (ginger, rosemary and turmeric).
Cut back or eliminate inflammatory foods
Inflammatory foods include red meat and anything with trans fats, such as margarine, corn oil, deep fried foods and most processed foods.
Control blood sugar
Limit or avoid simple carbohydrates, such as white flour, white rice, refined sugar and anything with high fructose corn syrup.
One easy rule to follow is to avoid white foods, such as white bread, rice and pasta, as well as foods made with white sugar and flour. Build meals around lean proteins and whole foods high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread. Check the labels and make sure that “whole wheat” or another whole grain is the first ingredient.
Make time to exercise
Make time for 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise and 10 to 25 minutes of weight or resistance training at least four to five times per week.
People who are overweight have more inflammation. Losing weight may decrease inflammation.
Chronic stress contributes to inflammation. Use meditation, yoga, biofeedback, guided imagery or some other method to manage stress throughout the day.
“We may not be able to change many of the stressful situations we encounter in life, but we can change our response and perception by learning to manage stress better.
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