Body Buzz – Upping The Anti!
by Sasha Kanal
If your immune system remains on high alert, it could result in chronic inflammation. Find out more about some of the causes and a few of the preventative steps that may benefit you.
Chronic inflammation is the new buzzword in the world of health and wellbeing. Steadily gaining ground for a couple of years now, it’s not to be confused with acute inflammation (the essential and normal immune response by our bodies to injury or infection and its resulting processes such as healing).
Chronic systemic or low-level inflammation is what arises from what many experts see as an immune system response that is out of control or constantly on ‘high alert’. Consider this – if you injure yourself or succumb to infection, your immune system employs its white blood cells to destroy the bacteria and repair the tissue. This healing process, also known as the ‘inflammatory response’, is one of the body’s most amazing and basic survival strategies. However there are times when the immune system fails to switch off, releasing an inflammatory response that can spread throughout the body and potentially damage cells and tissues. Autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are good examples of where the body has initiated an inflammatory process despite there being no apparent ‘invader’ to fight off.
So what causes chronic inflammation and how can we counteract it for optimum health?
Repeated and ongoing illnesses such as gingivitis, or bladder and sinus infections can activate chronic inflammation in the body, as well as pollution, food allergens and the proven and more obvious risk factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. The importance of keeping inflammation in check cannot be overstated, research has revealed it can contribute in part to a range of conditions such as heart disease, neurological and lung disorders and even some cancers. It is also shown to be instrumental in how our bodies age.
Adopting some new approaches to your lifestyle may help. Eating a more anti-inflammatory diet rich in phytonutrients found in vegetables, fruit and whole grain fibre and one that is low in refined sugar is thought to be beneficial. Also consuming the right kinds of fats (olive oil and foods containing omega 3 fatty acids such as walnuts and flaxseed) as well as exercise, weight management and stress reduction are all recommended to ease inflammation overall and contribute towards a more healthy lifestyle.
Recent scientific research has also shown that even a short session of moderate exercise such as fast walking can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body – good news for those who find intensive exercise hard or who have conditions that preclude them from this. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is proven to be the most potent when it comes to quelling the flames of inflammation. So a good HIIT workout could consist of the following:
- One minute of marching on the spot whilst circling your arms.
- Two minutes of star jumps.
- Two to three minutes of on the spot, knee-high running
- One minute of sit ups
- One minute of squats
- One minute of plank
- One minute of push-ups
Take a two-minute break between each set and repeat. Cool down with three to five minutes of stretching. Always consult your doctor before trying any new regime.
CAUTION: If you are unsure of any new exercise regime please consult your GP before commencing.