No one likes feeling bad. If someone asked you, “How would you like to have an achey low back every day for the rest of your life?” After looking a bit fearfully at this obviously crazy person, you’d say, “I wouldn’t like it at all.” Yet here you are, and I can almost guarantee that you currently have some sort of inflammation like this that you deal with every single (or almost every single) day. You know what I’m talking about—the way you feel like a 90-year-old when you wake up in the morning. Or the chronic headaches you get by the end of most work days. The vacillating constipation and diarrhea — the chronically upset “sensitive” stomach.
But you live with it. You even learn to ignore it most of the time. You accept it as part of getting older (even if you’re only 35). Everyone has something, right? so what’s the big deal?
These chronic conditions become so constant to us that we sadly learn to just live with them, and with the lesser quality of life that goes with it. Don’t you deserve more? Think about your answer.
If you can think of one inflammatory health concern you have — your chronically stiff ankle, your monthly migraines, your arthritic hands, your thyroid disorder, your diabetes, and you can honestly say that you don’t mind having it, then either you are not being honest with yourself or you are accepting less from your life than you deserve. I’m not going to tell you that you can solve your health issue in this article. I’m not here selling magic beans. I’m just going to point out that you can probably do better, feel better, live better. If this sounds appealing, read on.
Effects of Inflammation
It used to be that inflammation was really only used when describing acute or arthritic pain. When your doctor told you something was inflamed, it was your hot achey joint, your newly sprained ankle, or maybe occasionally your colon. Now doctors are aware that almost every physical, and even potentially a lot of mental/emotional maladies stem from a root of inflammation. This article is not really about the acute broken bone kind of inflammation — it’s about the chronic kind. The kind that makes life harder, the kind that gives you discomfort, they kind that can kill you.
Inflammation is insidious.
It creeps up on you, at first with no recognizable effects. It lies under the surface, slowly building until it makes itself known. How it makes itself known is almost as unique to you as is your thumbprint. There are generalizations, of course like how chronic overuse of a tendon causes tendonitis, degeneration of a bone causes arthritis, colon inflammation causes colitis, hyper response to pollen leads to allergic rhinitis. See one of the first trends?
If you have ever been diagnosed with anything that ends with -itis you have inflammation in your body.
Not all diseases caused by inflammation end with the -itis tag, however, and a lot of the ones that don’t are the most severe with the most detrimental consequences. Heart disease involves inflammation, as does Hashimoto’s (thyroiditis), Lupus, diabetes, certain types of infertility, most likely fibromyalgia, possibly Alzheimer’s, and even certain types (and perhaps all types) of cancer.
That’s a pretty serious list. With serious consequences. Inflammation’s effects are scary.
The Good News: Inflammation is not unchangeable
You have the ability to affect the levels of inflammation in your body.
If you already have symptoms of inflammation — allergies, asthma, cardiovascular issues, high blood sugar, arthritis, an autoimmune disease, thyroid disorder, headaches, digestive issues, etc — what follows is not a suggestion as much as it is a Call to Arms.
The day to start is today. Right now.
This minute make a choice to lower your inflammatory levels — drink a glass of water. Finish reading this article and then get up and move. Make yourself a snack of good protein and fiber. Don’t stay up too late. Talk out a stressful situation with a friend or counselor. Get acupuncture. Eat some salmon.
How to Decrease Inflammation
Decreasing inflammation is not a perfect science, and the details will be different for each of you. There is a ton of research out there, however that gives a good starting point with generalizations.
Here are the top 7 things you can do to lower your inflammatory levels:
1. Eat real food.
2. Stop smoking.
3. Stay hydrated.
4. Try acupuncture.
5. Get some exercise daily.
6. Get (enough) good sleep.
7. Make your happiness a priority.
Think about these 7 suggestions right now. Really think about them. Read them again and ask yourself if they sound reasonable or doable. There may be some that sound easier than others, and there may be some that sound unlikely. You may be inclined to come up with all the reasons you can’t do number 5 or why number 6 isn’t totally up to you because of your kids. Good.
Make your excuses. Write them down. Grab a piece of paper or open a document on your computer right now, and put down the above Call to Arms Actions, and after each one write exactly why you could or could not do them. Put down every excuse, every fear, every exciting thing that each one brings up. Email them to me if you want or leave your objections in a comment
. Share them with a friend or partner. Laugh at them. Tell the computer how self-righteous I am for suggesting that these are possible. Think about them.
Then watch for the next article. It will be all about number 1: Eat Real Food.
Just read the articles. Think about what I’m suggesting. Give me your excuses, and I’ll tell you how to make it work.
Commit to reducing your inflammation. You are worth it.