Inflammation–the body’s response to external threats such as stress, toxins, or infection–serves as a friend to the body in healthy situations, but can cause severe damage when it becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation has been shown to be an underlying cause in almost every disease.
For example, inflammation does not only play a key role in the development of conditions such as asthma and allergies, but research has shown that Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, hormone-related diseases like PCOS & Endometriosis, Autoimmune Disorders, and even brain-related disorders like depression occur when the body is in an inflammatory-state. Levels of cytokines (pro-inflammatory molecules) have been found to be higher in people with mood & other psychotic disorders.
Stress and inflammation are double-edged swords. Stress, be it physical or mental, causes the body to release cortisol. Cortisol serves to promote chronic inflammation through weakening the body’s immune system. A weak immune system is unable to defend against foreign pathogens, which have an increased ability to inhabit the body and contribute to even more inflammation.
Another double-edged sword relationship exists between inflammation and leaky gut. Chronic inflammation is in fact one of the primary dangers of having a leaky gut–which ironically is the number one cause of inflammation in the body. Once toxins enter the bloodstream from a leaky gut, the immune system recognizes them as invaders, sending out waves of inflammation to attack them. Given that ~70% of your immune system is located in the gut, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this systemic inflammation not only prevents the gut from healing itself, but contributes to the onset of chronic illnesses mentioned earlier.
A diet that consists of sugar, dairy, gluten, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, conventional meats, inflammatory oils (like canola, safflower & soybean) and artificial sweeteners serves to promote inflammation within your body. Specifically, these foods can contribute to the release of cytokines in the body as well as cause poor reactions from the bacteria in the gut that secrete chemicals which promote inflammatory responses.
What can you do to help mitigate the inflammation in your body?
Include anti-inflammatory foods and supplements in your diet
Eliminate the toxic foods that are listed above. A diet rich in fiber, vegetables, fruits, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, resveratrol, curcumin, cod-liver oil, and vitamin E have been shown to reduce inflammatory-related damage in the body.
Learn to manage your stress. It is incredibly important.
Some strategies such as meditation, deep breathing, getting more and higher quality sleep, acupuncture, and relaxation exercises can be life-changing through helping your body begin to heal. If you haven’t already, check out some more ways to reduce your stress and decrease your cortisol levels here.
Focus on healing your gut.
As mentioned, your gut is your body’s second brain. All inflammatory-related diseases stem from your gut. Some things you can do right now to start healing your gut include eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet, eating organic and local foods, supplementing with l-glutamine, slippery elm, bone broth, and a high-quality probiotic, and learning to practice a mentality of self-love and healing.