Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to protect it from infection, disease, or injury and its attempt to heal itself. Whether you’re aware of it or not, this clever response is the body’s way of keeping us safe from harm and stimulating healing. Auto-immune conditions, like arthritis, cause your immune system to misinterpret threats and instead attack healthy cells, leading to damage.
Acute inflammation relates to short-lived immune responses. For example, a small cut or dealing with a cold or virus. In these cases, symptoms such as pain, redness, or swelling usually subside in a matter of hours or days.
However, chronic inflammation typically relates to a much longer time frame, i.e. months or even years, and doesn’t always end after the body has fully healed.
Long-term inflammation of this nature can cause a wide range of symptoms, including ongoing pain, weight issues (loss/ gain), mood disorders, digestive problems, fatigue, and frequent infections. Serious health conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s have all been linked to chronic inflammation, so reducing inflammation in the body is extremely important for longevity and maintaining optimal health.1-2
Fortunately, chronic inflammation can be managed and improved by your client changing their lifestyle, and diet plays an important role in this.
Following a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to reduce markers of inflammation in the body.3 Although there are many variations of the Mediterranean diet, this way of eating generally focuses on eating a variety of healthy plant foods and lowering the intake of animal products, but with a focus on fish and seafood. This type of diet typically includes large amounts of vegetables and fruits, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Moderate amounts of fish, seafood, and poultry should be included, as well as small amounts of dairy and eggs. Some red meat may be included in very small amounts.
Healthy fats from extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and olives should be included in abundance. The unsaturated fats found in these foods are particularly beneficial for lowering inflammation.
It’s also worth noting that certain foods can be pro-inflammatory, and these sorts of foods should be limited in the diet, especially if your client is looking to reduce chronic inflammation. Unsurprisingly, the worst food-culprits for causing inflammation are the same foods most of us already know should not be a staple in our diets. These include ultra-processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugars, deep-fried foods, processed meats, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, and anything containing trans/ hydrogenated fats.
Exercise can have both anti and proinflammatory effects on the body, depending on duration, intensity, and recovery time. Exercise stimulates the body’s anti-inflammatory response by activating the sympathetic nervous systemwhich helps to increase the heart and breathing rates and blood pressure.
Daily physical activity for just 20 minutes of moderate intensity has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.4 Moderate exercise means the heart rate should be within 100-120 beats per minute (BPM), depending on fitness levels. Suppose the client doesn’t wear a heart rate monitor.
In that case, the “talk test” can be a good indicator of intensity levels -when exercising at moderate intensity, they should be able to talk comfortably but unable to sing a tune.5
Stress affects most people to some degree and is becoming an increasingly “normal” part of modern life. However, high levels of ongoing stress can be a key driver of chronic inflammation, so taking steps to reduce stress levels is critical. Daily mindfulness practices, ensuring your client gets adequate sleep, and keeping up a regular exercise regime are excellent ways to lower your client’s stress levels and, in turn, inflammation.
Reducing chronic inflammation is essential to lowering the risk of several serious diseases. Following a Mediterranean-style diet, taking regular exercise, and reducing stress wherever possible are simple lifestyle changes your client can take to help reduce their risk of chronic inflammation.
At the Pure Package, we’re devoted to creating delicious, healthy and fresh meals to help you achieve your health goals. Whether it’s fighting inflammation, losing or maintaining weight, or boosting your brainpower, it has never been so easy to eat yourself healthy with personalised meal plans prepared and delivered to you daily.
Jennifer Irvine is a food entrepreneur, author and spokesperson. She is the founder of the award-winning The Pure Package and Balance Box, helping busy people source and prepare nutritionally balanced food. Jennifer is also the creator and chair of The Wellness Awards, which celebrate the stars of the British health and wellness industry.
4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/ articles/315255#As-little-as-20-minutes-ofexercise-reduces-inflammation
5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/diabetes/ diabetes_education/patient_education_material/ exercising_like_your_life_depends_on_it.pdf