Summer is almost officially here in the Capital Region after a long winter and we have had many beautiful days. The Ottawa area has countless outdoor facilities, activities and events to appeal to everyone. Sometimes, in our eagerness to finally make the most of what Ottawa has to offer, we might have a sore knee after a jog, or experience a sore back after a day of hiking.
This is caused by acute inflammation. Acute inflammation is a short-term, necessary function of the body. During a healthy immune response, the body floods the attacked or wounded region with immune cells, nutrients and molecules that destroy the intruder and damaged tissues. This responsive process is only meant to be a short burst of powerful destruction. Once the trauma goes away, inflammatory cells and molecules are suppose to recede so the healing process can begin. But what about chronic inflammation?
It can occur anywhere in the body and plenty of research indicates that it is a common trigger for and contributor to multiple chronic diseases. Some symptoms of chronic inflammation are pain; fatigue, which is often constant; depression and anxiety; and gastrointestinal issues. Chronic inflammation can also cause nasal congestion, dry eyes, shortness of breath and skin outbreaks. So- what can we do about chronic inflammation?
The best inflammation fighting foods are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants bind to and deactivate harmful free radicals that are by-products of the inflammatory process. Some amazing anti-inflammatory foods include dark berries, red wine (a glass a day), spinach, dark chocolate (a square or two a day) and beets. Eating real foods also means cutting out the chemicals whenever possible. Exposure to pesticides and preservatives causes inflammation by invading cells and destroying tissue. Try to eat seasonal, local and organic whenever possible and wash your vegetables well when you can't.
Tumeric has gained serious credibility in reducing inflammation related to Alzheimer's disease, arthritis and cancer. Tumeric contains curcumin, which extinguishes inflammation by shutting off pro-inflammatory markers and reducing free radicals. Tumeric can be consumed in food, as a drink or in capsules (curcumin). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids like EPA and DHA found in fatty-fish oil can play a big protective role by acting directly on signal pathways during inflammation. It is not always easy to find wild fish low in toxins, like mercury, so a high-potency, exceptional quality supplement can fill the void.
Regular exercise reduces inflammation very effectively by improving circulation and lymphatic flow, and reducing body fat. Set a goal to gradually work up to at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Find something you enjoy- the options are endless.
Our body interprets stress and anxiety as internal invaders and releases inflammatory markers everywhere throughout the body. The options for stress reduction are endless- yoga, meditation and journalling to name a few. There are also natural supplements that help with stress. These include adaptogens like ashwaganda and rhodiola, amino acids like l-theanine and neurotransmitters like gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Sleep is the time when our body is able to heal from the physical and emotional traumas of the day. Interrupted, poor quality sleep cuts sharply into that healing time. Sleep duration and quality is associated with changes in the levels of specific cytokines that are important in regulating inflammation. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, get some exercise, have a comfortable mattress, keep the bedroom dark and cool (but not cold) and keep televisions, cellphones and computers out of the bedroom. You can also consider supplementing with melatonin (a natural sleep hormone that helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm) if it is appropriate for you.
At NutriChem Pharmacy, we have superior quality supplements, holistic nutritionists that can help you move toward an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, and Naturopathic Doctors and Clinical Pharmacists that can also help develop an individual plan to reduce your chronic inflammation. Contact us today on how to get started.
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March's Question is: How important is vitamin D? Should I have my levels tested or can I just take 1000 IU per day?