Inflammation bites!

By Jackie Rainford Corcoran Explore Big Sky Health Columnist

Are achy joints affecting your physical activities? Is constant bloating causing you discomfort? Do you have skin problems or mood swings or is your blood pressure on the rise? Don’t shrug these conditions off as minor annoyances – they are often signs of underlying chronic inflammation.

According to progressive thinking physicians, including Drs. Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Mark Hyman, chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses including some cancers, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases and heart disease. Other problems linked with inflammation include excess fat storage, depression, arthritis and digestive disorders.

We are all familiar with acute inflammation. When we get a mosquito bite, an infection or break a bone, inflammation is the body’s first line of defense. Swelling, redness and pain means the immune system is nourishing and healing the body. Once the threat is neutralized, the body releases equally powerful anti-inflammatory compounds to stop the swelling.

But chronic inflammation is different. It means the immune system has gone haywire and is attacking healthy tissue. It’s persistent and harmful and can occur for long periods of time without severe symptoms before it causes real damage, hence it’s nickname, “the silent killer.”

How do you know if inflammation is happening in your body (other than tuning into your diet and how you feel)? As of today, Western medicine can offer the C-reactive Protein Test, a blood test that measures general inflammation levels in your body.

But a CRP test doesn’t show where the inflammation is located or what’s causing it. If your CRP levels are high, other tests are needed to find the inflammation cause and location. Physicians also recommend asking your doctor for the more advanced High-Sensitivity CRP test.

If you suspect chronic inflammation, another effective approach is to evaluate your own diet and lifestyle (see sidebar). Eliminate what you think could be causing inflammation and see if you notice a difference in your body, mind and energy.

For example, if dairy and/or refined carbohydrates seem like the culprit, take them out entirely for 10 days, replacing them with healthy whole foods. Then add them back in and see how you feel. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can never eat dairy or carbs again, it may just mean you’re eating excessive amounts of them and your body needs a break.

Please join me at Big Sky Resort’s Solace Spa on Friday, August 1 at 5 p.m. for the “Inflammation Bites” wellness event where we will dive deeper into this topic and address your particular concerns.

Stay tuned for my next article, “How to enhance your good looks naturally.”

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@thetahealth.com, or find more at thetahealth.org.

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Dr. Mark Hyman’s seven steps to living an anti-inflammatory life

1. Whole foods: Eat a whole-foods, high-fiber, plant-based diet, which is inherently anti-inflammatory. Choose unprocessed, unrefined, whole, fresh, real foods, rather than those with sugar and trans fats that are low in powerful anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients.

2. Healthy fats: Eat healthy, monounsaturated fats that occur in olive oil, nuts and avocadoes, and get more omega-3 fats from sardines, herring, sable, and wild salmon.

3. Regular exercise: Mounting evidence tells us that regular exercise reduces inflammation. It also improves immune function, strengthens your cardiovascular system, corrects and prevents insulin resistance, and is key to improving your mood and erasing the effects of stress.

4. Relax: Learn to engage your vagus nerve by actively relaxing. This powerful nerve relaxes your whole body and lowers inflammation when you practice yoga or meditation, breathe deeply, or even take a hot bath.

5. Avoid allergens: If you have food allergies, find out what you’re allergic to and stop eating those foods – gluten and dairy are two common culprits.

6. Heal your gut: Take probiotics to help your digestion and improve the balance of healthy bacteria in your stomach, which reduces inflammation.

7. Supplement: Take multivitamin/multimineral supplements, fish oil, and vitamin D, all of which help reduce inflammation.