Almost every modern disease is caused, or made worse, by hidden inflammation. Hidden inflammation is something that you cannot necessarily see or feel but it affects the way your body functions. This is also sometimes called systemic inflammation.
If you have ever had a sore throat, a fever, a rash, or a sprained ankle, then you have experienced inflammation. These responses are all a normal and appropriate way for our immune system to respond to infection or trauma. We actually need inflammation to survive.
The trouble is when defense mechanism gets out of control and things that are not actually a threat begin to cause inflammation. Most people are familiar with an immune system that is working too hard and too much inflammation in conditions such as allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, or autoimmune diseases. The thing that not a lot of people are aware of is that hidden inflammation is the root cause of conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, depression, cancer, and even autism.
Common treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin or steroids like prednisone are useful for acute or life threatening problems such as injury or severe allergic reaction, but they interfere with the body’s natural immune response and can lead to serious and deadly side effects.
If these drugs are dangerous and should not be used to control silent inflammation, what do we do to prevent ourselves from developing these serious health conditions? The first step is to identify the triggers and causes of inflammation and then to help reset the body’s natural immune balance by making sure it has the right conditions.
What causes inflammation?
- Poor diet: mostly sugar, refined flours, processed food, and inflammatory fats
- Lack of exercise
- Hidden or chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, yeast, or parasites
- Hidden allergens from food or the environment
- Toxins such as mercury and pesticides
- Mold toxins and allergens
As practitioners, it’s our job to find the the things that are causing inflammation in each person, to see how lifestyle, environmental, or infectious factors are causing the immune system to get out of control and leading to chronic illness. Listening carefully to our patients, and some very specific lab tests leads us to the cause in most people.
7 ways to avoid inflammation
Identifying the cause of inflammation and getting rid of it is the first and most important step to wellness, but then what? How do you go about living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle? Here are seven fairly simple things you can do to decrease inflammation and help reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease.
Eat a whole food, high fiber diet. Focus on eating lots of vegetables and a moderate amount of protein. This means unprocessed, unrefined, real food. Nothing full of sugar or and no trans fats.
Change your oil. Eat healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, avocados, and get plenty of omega 3 fats from wild-caught, cold water fish like sardines, herring, and salmon.
Learn to relax. Try yoga, mediation, deep breathing, a walk in nature, or even just a hot bath (with epsom salts to make sure you get enough magnesium!).
Identify food allergies and sensitivities. If you have food allergies, find out what they are and stop eating those foods. While we sympathize with those of you who are allergic or sensitive to foods you love, avoiding them will make you feel better in the long run, we promise.
Balance your bacteria. Take a probiotic (“good bacteria”) daily to help your digestion and improve the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Take a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.