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What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation might sound bad, but many people aren’t sure what it is or what causes it. Inflammation is actually one of the ways your body protects itself naturally. Think about the last time you were injured and experienced swelling. This is an example of inflammation, and this reaction can occur anytime your body is trying to remove irritants, repair damaged cells, or get rid of pathogens. This kind of short-term inflammation is known as acute inflammation, and it’s all part of the natural healing process.

Acute inflammation is usually triggered by your immune system and goes away as quickly as your body heals. Chronic inflammation, however, can be problematic. Diseases and conditions associated with chronic inflammation include asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, acid reflux, psoriasis, blood disorders, heart disease, and many more. To prevent inflammation, it’s important to understand the causes and take steps towards a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

Inflammation has many sneaky causes. Things like lack of sleep or exercise, and poor eating habits can play a major role. When it comes to your sleep schedule, how consistent are you? Research suggests that getting too little or too much sleep can result in increased inflammation levels. Disturbances throughout the night or insomnia can also contribute to sleep deprivation. Try to get seven to eight hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep every night.

Preventing & Treating Inflammation

You probably don’t spend much time thinking about your blood vessels, but as we age, inflammation thickens arteries and blood vessels. This means the heart has to work harder to keep blood flowing, but exercise can help. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days each week can help reduce inflammation and improve your overall health. Do something you enjoy, like attending a dance class, taking a brisk walk or catching up on some yardwork.

Now think about your diet. Would you consider it to be balanced? A poor or highly acidic diet is one of the biggest contributors when it comes to chronic inflammation. Adopting the alkaline diet can help. In fact, all of the body’s systems perform better when its pH is at the optimal, slightly alkaline, level. To get there, start by incorporating more fresh fruits, vegetables and plant proteins.

There are many ways to reduce inflammation, but we prefer the natural way. Turning to steroids or NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) can have negative side effects. Natural cures include drinking green tea, eating tart cherries and introducing acupuncture. To take advantage of other natural anti-inflammatories, try the following:

Apple Cider Vinegar

Add some to your salad, or dilute with water before drinking to help reduce bloating and alleviate heartburn.

Ginger & Turmeric

Fresh ginger root contains elements that can help reduce nausea and inflammation. Turmeric is actually in the ginger family and shares many of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Essential Oils

Certain essential oils have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anesthetic properties. These oils can help provide relief for pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

Fish & Coconut Oils

Both are natural anti-inflammatories, but coconut oil has a variety of different uses. It’s also a delicious ingredient in many recipes, including stir fry dishes and protein smoothies.

Natural methods, together with a thoughtful diet, moderate exercise, and a restorative sleep schedule can help prevent and alleviate chronic inflammation—and lead to an overall healthier you. It’s that simple.