Reducing inflammation in the body is crucial to being healthier and leaner - guaranteed! Did you know inflammation is linked to obesity, fat gain, accelerated aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, cancer, stomach problems, and more! Inflammation can shorten your life and cause you pain on a persistent daily basis, and that is no way to live.
As an athlete or trainee, you undoubtedly have experience with inflammation from training injuries and know it is something you want to diminish for healing. Inflammation is natural, and a necessary response from the immune system, and although it is a part of healing, it's the chronic raging inflammation that you want to reduce.
The “Good” Inflammation:
The first type, acute inflammation is probably what comes to mind when you hear the word “inflammation.” You stub your toe, you get a cut or a burn, or maybe a black eye: your body’s natural inflammatory response is redness, warmth, swelling and even loss of function. This acute inflammation is necessary and is your body’s mechanism to help protect and heal itself—it’s a good thing.
The “Not-So-Good” Inflammation:
The second type, chronic inflammation, is different, scary and a bad thing—especially because the symptoms aren’t obvious like they are with acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation manifests itself in different ways from one person to another. In one person, inflammation may show up as heart disease, in another person as acne and in another as obesity. Chronic inflammation contributes to everything from achy joints to asthma to irritable bowel disease to diabetes to heart disease to migraines to skin rashes, and the list goes on. Chronic inflammation is low grade and systemic, constantly engaged, silently damaging tissues and blocking you from reaching various health goals and increasing your risk of disease. You may not FEEL inflammation accumulating in your arteries, but that doesn’t mean you won’t eventually suffer a heart attack. Chronic inflammation is the kind that festers deep inside your tissue. Your body sees it as a fire and is always going to prioritize taking care of the inflammation before anything else, which means that if you’re struggling with lack of energy, difficulty losing weight, or even digestive issues, it’s going to be nearly impossible for your body to fix these without reducing inflammation first. Whether we want to lose weight, or simply be healthier and at a lower risk for disease, we need to take care of this debilitating chronic inflammation.
Here are 6 strategies to help reduce inflammation, and get healing to live a healthier, better life.
1) Nutrition and Muscle Inflammation
First, lets talk about how to decrease tissue inflammation after weight training or injury. This is not the chronic inflammation that will kill. This inflammation is the natural response to intense training, especially exercises that cause muscle damage such as eccentric-enhanced lifting or plyometrics.
Acute or immediate muscle damage is produced by mechanical stress and disturbances of calcium homeostasis, increase in cytokines and other inflammatory molecules, and free radical production. The inflammation will naturally go away within 24-72 hours of training.
One strategy for an accelerated recovery is targeted nutrition therapy. Certain foods can help clear inflammatory biological markers such as creatine kinase and cytokines. For example, consuming tart cherries has been known to reduce post-workout soreness and accelerate recovery from exercise. Other recovery foods include coffee, leafy green vegetables, almonds and walnuts, eggs, and anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and cinnamon. We suggest adding these to spices onto yams when you bake them to add flavour and get the health benefits at the same time!
2) Eat Fish and Up Your Omega-3's
Omega-3's fatty acids are found in fish oils, and are known to play a potent role in decreasing inflammation. They have strong anti-inflammatory effects and also support the immune system. A skewed rate of omega-6's fatty acids to omega-3's are directly linked to inflammatory disease risk including cancer, arthritis, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and psychiatric disorders. We suggest adding TotalBodyHealth's Omega1000's into your daily routine to get the benefits! You can order them online at www.totalbodyhealth.ca
3) Resistance Training Lowers Oxidative Inflammation
Resistance training effectively lowers inflammation, improved cardiovascular health, prevents atherosclerosis, and can decrease risk of diabetes. A recent study compared the effect of a hypertrophy-type protocol (six exercises, three sets of twelve at 70% 1RM) and a strength-program (six exercises, three sets of six reps at 85 percent 1RM) on two oxidative inflammation markers.
Both protocols provided protective effects against oxidative stress and lowered inflammation, regardless, indicating that a wave-like program can be used when training without risk of increasing chronic inflammation.
4) Magnesium: Get Your Level Up To Lower Inflammation
Magnesium deficiency results in an increase in C-reactive protein concentration - the same marker that trans-fatt acids elevate. Adequate magnesium levels have been shown to be linked to cardiovascular health and lower levels of oxidative stress.
A recent study of patients with chronic kidney disease found that those with higher magnesium levels had significantly better cell health, lower C-reactive proteins, and better body composition. Researchers conclude that the adequate magnesium content was directly related to decreased inflammation and prevention of death.
5) Take Melatonin: Stay Young and Strong
Supplement with melatonin and decrease inflammation, recover faster from training or injury, and prevent cancer. Melatonin is a potent therapeutic hormone that helps you sleep, aids muscle regeneration, and decreases oxidative stress by getting rid of inflammation.
Lack of sleep triggers inflammation, and getting your beauty rest can help protect against it and its negative effects of exhaustion. Additionally, because of its antioxidant potential, melatonin slows the process.
6) Go Gluten-Free: Lower Intestinal Inflammation
Gluten, naturally occurring in wheat, barley, and rye is a highly inflammatory food that agitates the intestine. If you are allergic to gluten, you'll likely have symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and suffer random weight loss. Gluten has also been shown to increase symptoms in type 1 diabetics.