It might not be obvious, but inflammation is the baseline for pretty much all physical distress. Any time we’re experiencing discomfort, we can be assured that there is inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be general (throughout the body) or specific (localized to one or more areas). Either way, inflammation is a sign that things are not as they should be.
Inflammation comes in various degrees. Most of us generally only recognize gross inflammation of the sort that is associated with injury or infection. If we’re to truly get in control of our well-being, however, we need to become more aware of how inflammation expresses itself in more subtle, day-to-day fashion.
Probably the two most obvious yet overlooked signs of rampant inflammation in the body are body/joint stiffness and puffiness around the eyes and face in the morning. If you experience either (or both) of these symptoms, you can be assured that something needs to be addressed in your diet and/or lifestyle.
Chronic joint stiffness and/or pain is a sign that inflammation has reached a stage where rheumatoid arthritis is a serious risk. As inflammation runs rampant in the body, the immune system reacts, looking for a likely cause. If things are really bad for a really long time, the immune system can become so confused that it begins to attack its own host body.
Other expressions of an immune system under pressure from excessive inflammation are allergies. Although we have come to view allergies as an unfortunate fact of life for many people, the fact is that suffering from allergies is not a normal state of being. Allergies get their start in the same fashion as rheumatoid arthritis. In the presence of intense inflammation, the immune system begins looking for a likely cause. A “cause” may be latched onto in a couple of ways: Either a substance that is almost never experienced is identified as bad or a substance for which we’re in near-constant contact is deemed responsible. Either way, the result is the same, a new allergy.
Morning puffiness around the eyes and face is a strong indicator of a budding problem. Many people wake up with puffiness only to see it disappear over the course of the day and then repeat the following morning. While it’s comforting to assume that the problem isn’t serious, the lack of visible inflammation later in the day is actually more likely related to chronic dehydration. As the skin sags from lack of moisture, the inflammation is nicely concealed, thus giving one a false impression of health.
So, some 425 words of doom and gloom later, it’s time to shed some light on how one can prevent inflammation.
First up is water. Water is your friend. That’s not water disguised as tea, coffee, fruit juice or any other variety of liquid thereof, that’s plain ol’ water. The human body is mostly water and we need a good amount of clean water each and every day to remain healthy. The body’s primary means of eliminating toxins are urine and perspiration. Without adequate hydration, the body can’t cleanse itself and toxins build up in the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. Toxic buildup is a huge burden on the body, and chronic toxicity can cause permanent damage. Water. And lots of it, folks.
Next up is diet. You’ve heard it here before, but I’ll say it again: A whole-food diet based on animal protein, raw veggies, fruits/berries and nuts goes a long way to ensuring that inflammation in the body is kept to a minimum. As hard as it may be to imagine, grains are not your friend. That means rice, bread and cereals are all off the menu. That also means that processed foods of any sort should also be held at arm’s length.
Moderate exercise that involves mostly interval-type training is important. This one is a bit tough for me, as I’ve always been the kind of person who enjoyed lacing up his runners and heading out for a couple of hours of jogging. Alas, studies are showing that so-called “steady-state” aerobic exercise actually offers diminishing returns. Apparently, we’ve evolved to be more responsive to interval training.
Inflammation could be considered a secret killer, and one of the more dangerous causes of inflammation is stress. Many of us in our modern day and age suffer tremendous stress at work and at home. Exercise and meditation are great ways of helping to get the stress out of the system. Stress depresses the digestive system’s ability to take in nutrients. It also causes the body to produce increased amounts of cortisol. Cortisol is a primary contributor to inflammation.
I look at intentional living as taking all these aspects of health into consideration and subsequently living in a fashion that is geared toward sustaining our well-being. We create what we think and we are what we eat. Think good thoughts. Eat and live with the conscious goal of well-being. Do not do unto others that which you would not have done unto you.
Don’t worry. Be happy.