How To Reduce Inflammation In The Body
Inflammation is the normal defence mechanism of a body. Find out what causes inflammation and natural ways to reduce it.
Did you know that the word inflammation originates from the Latin word inflammare which means ‘to set up on fire’? It is characterised by pain and swelling in the body. Inflammation is the body’s self-defence mechanism by which white blood cells ward off the invaders (read infections). As per Dr Tarun Sahni, internal medicine physician, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, “though innately meant to protect the body, inflammations can cause a host of complications such as heart disease, depression, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Whenever there is an infection on an organ or a tissue, the immune system of the body, specifically leukocytes (white blood cells) start a response to heal. This is when inflammation starts. Inflammation can be classified based on various factors such as cause, area of impact, diagnosis methods and longevity. It can be caused by foreign agents such as infectious bacteria, virus, or fungus. Sometimes, the body can even perceive regular colds or flu as dangerous foreign agents and cause redness, warmth or swelling in affected areas. Inflammation can also be caused due to internal disorders such as clots, ischemia (insufficient blood supply), or autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis. As per the book Chronic Inflammation, there are majorly 2 types of inflammations, namely, acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation can be induced due to sudden tissue damage from trauma, chemical or microbial invasion. It’s akin to having an accident or adverse reaction to a chemical or pathogen. This kind of inflammation starts suddenly and severely and can last for a few days.
Chronic inflammation affects the body gradually and is long-term. Chronic inflammation lasts for several years, while the ability of the body to recover depends on the cause of inflammation and the extent of damage. Generally, a person who regularly smokes, consumes excessive alcohol, and undergoes irregular sleep patterns is more likely to have chronic inflammation.
Signs of Inflammation
You can typically identify inflammation with 5 signs. The Journal of Inflammation identifies these as rubor (redness), tumour (swelling), (calor) heat, (dolor) pain, and loss of functions (to some extent).
When inflammation occurs on the skin (cutaneous) or under the skin (subcutaneous), it can be easily felt or seen. “These can be treated using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID),” says Dr Sahni. But internal inflammations—that are usually felt via pain in the certain region—require some generic blood markers and tests for appropriate diagnosis. C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and plasma viscosity (PV) are some common diagnostic tests used to monitor inflammations, says The British Journal of General Practise.
“Also, treatment of inflammation varies as per the type, cause, and effect of inflammation,” says Dr Sahni. In case of acute inflammation, cryotherapy, cold compress, anti-inflammatory drugs and NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are quite effective.
Ways to reduce inflammation
There are many dietary and lifestyle changes which can reduce or counteract inflammation. As per the book Chronic Inflammation authored by Roma Pahwa, Amandeep Goyal, Pankaj Bansal, and Ishwarlal Jialal, following a low glycaemic diet, increasing fruits and vegetables, increasing intake of fibre, mung beans and sesame can reduce the cause of inflammation. Here are some other tips to reduce inflammation naturally:
1. Say no to high amounts of sugars. Avoid high-fructose foods such as canned fruit juices, sweetened yoghurts, candies and soda.
2. Limit intake of refined carbs such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, and white flour.
3. Limit and manage the intake of processed and packaged foods.
4. Avoid excessive intake of alcohol. It can worsen inflammation.
5. Get on to some form of physical activity. 10-25 minutes of regular exercise is one of the best ways to control inflammation.
6. Make way for quality sleep. Studies show that a good night’s sleep can help control inflammation.
7. Chronic stress increases the risk of inflammation. Try yoga, meditation for relief.