What is inflammatory response and how does it factor into our health?
"The inflammatory response (inflammation) occurs when tissues are injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, or any other cause. The damaged cells release chemicals including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins. These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling." (U.S National Library of Medicine)
That doesn't sound like a picnic! Basically, inflammation is how your body deals with a less than ideal situation or actual trauma. It can be from an acute injury, a chronic disease, or lifestyle choices. Long-term inflammation, in a nutshell, is bad! It makes your body prone to disease and auto-immune disorders. There is research that suggests that inflammation in parts of the brain is one of the main causes of Alzheimer's. The Mayo Clinic states that only five percent of Alzheimer's cases are caused by genetics while the remaining 95% are believed to be the result of lifestyle choices and environment.
The brain is effected by chronic inflammation in more ways than in regards to Alzheimer's. I believe, someday in the near future, we will see some mental illnesses treated as a side effect of chronic inflammation in the brain and the stigmas associated with mental illness will decrease. Currently neuropsychologists have seen a correlation between patients with inflamed amygdalae (the part of your brain that process emotion and decision making) and individuals with anxiety disorders.
How can we reduce inflammation within our body? Here's a few lifestyle choices that can help you help your body and brain.
1. Eat a diet that focuses primarily on consuming plant based foods. That's lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and whole spelt pasta, and nuts.
2. The right kind of exercise reduces inflammation and helps your cells regenerate better. The right kind of exercise is 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week and simple strength training three times a week. It may sound like a big commitment, but in reality, it isn't. Cardio could be five days of 30 minutes brisk walking or running, depending on your fitness level. Or it could be four days of about 40 minutes. You can do the math and figure out what works for your schedule. Simple strength training does not mean hours at the gym doing a rotation between all the big machines. It could be a thrice weekly, 10-15 minute routine of squats, planks, push-ups, and chair dips, all done in the comfort of your own home- in your pajamas if need be! Email me if you need a quick strength training routine or some suggestions for how to fit your cardio in.
3. Sleep! Sleep is underrated in a society that has us multi-tasking from dawn til midnight. Make sure you get 7-8 hours of quality sleep. You will see a change in your skin, your appetite, and your energy level. The benefits of a full night of sleep cannot be understated.
4. Meditate your way to calmness and clarity. Help your brain program calmness into it's repertoire of responses to life. You'll give your body some much needed oxygen with a few deep breaths and you can use guided meditation to actualize your goals, calm your soul, and give you clarity. According to Chazal, our imagination is one of our most powerful tools. Combine that with meditation and clarity will surely follow. Check out jpthink.com for some great meditations. And stay tuned...I plan to release a series of guided meditations for your use:)
Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger. Incorporate these basic habits into your life to give your body what it needs and craves. Happy healing:)