Have you heard the buzz on inflammation? It is a hot topic right now. Information is all over the place on the importance of avoiding inflammation. So, what is it? How do you know if you have it?
Acute & Chronic
- Acute inflammation is often detected with redness, heat and swelling around tissues and joints after an injury. The immune system sends out white blood cells to surround and protect the area.
- The other type is chronic inflammation. Essentially, it is the same reaction but the white blood cells flood the area and end up attacking nearby healthy tissues and organs.
Here is an example: “If you are overweight and have more visceral fat cells—the kind of fat that builds up in your abdomen and surrounds your organs—the immune system sees those fat cells as a threat and pumps out more white blood cells. The longer you stay overweight, the longer your body remains in a state of inflammation.”
How do I know what my level of inflammation is?
A simple blood test from your doctor may tell you. It measures a liver chemical, C-reactive protein (CRP), which rises in response to inflammation. Often a CRP level of 1 to 3 milligrams per liter (mg/L) signals a low, yet chronic, degree of inflammation. Levels higher than 3 mg/L indicate a high risk of inflammation. The result can help you and your doctor devise a strategy to lower your levels.
How do I decrease chronic inflammation?
Diet and lifestyle are the two best ways to keep chronic inflammation under wraps including:
- Lose extra pounds
- Alter your diet
- Cut back or eliminate simple sugars like soda, candy and white bread/pasta
- Add foods with polyphenols like onions, turmeric, red grapes and green leafy veggies
- Get enough healthy fats such as olive oil, flaxseed and other omega 3 fatty acids
- Fight gum disease
- Balance cholesterol
- Quit smoking
Source: Harvard Health Publications
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