What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the bodies natural response to infection, toxins and injury. It involves an interplay between damaged cells, immune cells and the release of proteins and antibodies. The resultant increase in flow of blood to the area brings about the cardinal signs of acute inflammation including redness, heat, pain and swelling.

When this natural defence mechanism lingers, it becomes known as chronic inflammation. This happens as a result of unresolved acute inflammatory responses to infection or injury or when there is long-term exposure to irritants, such as air pollution and chemicals. Over time, chronic inflammation leads to loss of structure and function of our tissues and organs and the onset of many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. In cases of autoimmune disease such Hashimoto’s disease and multiple sclerosis, healthy tissues and organs are attacked by the bodies own immune system, resulting in chronic inflammatory states.

Chronic inflammation is impacted by our diet and lifestyle. High stress levels, smoking and excessive alcohol intake increase inflammation. Foods that create inflammation include processed food, refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed meat and trans fats contained in margarine.

Ways to support an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle to reduce the impact of chronic illness or prevent the onset of disease include:

  • Eliminating inflammatory factors including smoking and inflammatory foods listed above
  • Eating a diet that is high in fresh colourful antioxidant rich fruit and non-starchy vegetables
  • Increasing intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in foods like salmon, mackerel, flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts and reducing intake of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids contained in vegetable oils (e.g. canola oil, soybean oil)
  • Spending time outdoors, exposing skin to sunlight for the production of anti-inflammatory vitamin D
  • Regular physical activity to support healthy blood circulation and lymphatic flow
  • Mind-body practices such as mindful yoga, meditation and tai chi to lower stress levels

Photobiomodulation therapy (red light therapy) has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers and result in an overall reduction in inflammation. This therapy provides relief from inflammation and pain in arthritic joint conditions and traumatic injuries. It is beneficial for speeding up the recovery of muscles post workout. It helps to heal acne, blemishes and speeds up wound healing by enhancing collagen synthesis.

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