If you clicked on this blog then good for you! Too many people turn a blind eye on the damaging effects of inflammation, and I don’t just mean inflammation in the ‘joint’ and ‘injury’ sense.
You see, one of the biggest misconceptions in the fitness and exercise sector is that inflammation only occurs when you get injured, but the truth is that it inflammation can affect every part of your body, from head to toe, from brain to lungs.
Inflammation is an immune response which counters injured OR stressed body parts AND zones. Inflammation isn’t a bad thing, it is a defence mechanism designed to aid recovery and provide protection. However, modern day diets are causing our bodies to become chronically inflamed not only in injured joints, but also injured arteries, smooth muscle tissue and hormonal systems.
The overconsumption of sugar, salt and trans fats are resulting in damage to blood vessels, in turn increasing the furring of arteries (atheroma) triggering inflammation. This inflammation is a prime example of the 'bad' inflammation we really don’t want too much off. Inflammation must be tightly controlled, otherwise we have a proliferation of inflammatory markers flowing around our bodies leading to wide scale inflammation!
These are known as ‘low levels of inflammation’ and they are the problematic type of inflammation responsible for our nation’s chronic poor health. Research suggests that these ‘simmering’ low level types of inflammation may be the cause of heart attacks, diabetes and even alzheimer’s.
The National Institute of Health have made research around inflammation a priority due to the wider health implications. So maybe it’s about time we did too! So what is it you can do to get on top of chronic ‘low level inflammation’ that is silently, slowly damaging your health? Well, it starts with diet.
Some of the lowest levels of inflammation are thought to be found in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece and France. Their diets are commonly known as ‘The Mediterranean Diet’ and it rose to fame due to the low consumption of processed foods and sugar. The Mediterranean styled diet consists of ample amounts of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean meats and fish, particularly oily fish, olives and olive oil, and of course the odd piece of bread and drop of wine.
It would therefore make sense for us to begin to adopt some of these eating habits and continue/begin to follow a regular exercise plan or physical activity.
Although supplements aren’t an out and out cure for inflammation, they do appear to have a part to play. Our diets are too high in omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3s, and as omega-6s are pro-inflammatory (increase inflammation) we really do need to get this balance right. Therefore Omega-3 supplements may be of use, so too might probiotics in order to regulate bacterial balance in the digestive tract, as well as a steady flow of vitamins and minerals due to their abundance of antioxidants. Antioxidants may be key due to their ability to soak up free radicals, components with unpaired electrons that make them highly volatile and highly damaging to your body and blood vessels.