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Inflammation is keeping you from thriving - here's how to tame it!

by , 13 August 2021
Inflammation is keeping you from thriving - here's how to tame it!
Hello, Reinhard here.

Last week I explained how chronic inflammation is the one underlying factor that most lifestyle related disease have in common. We looked at the survival role of acute inflammation and also the impact of chronic inflammation on your health.

The bottom line we can take from that is you need to know what causes inflammation and how to minimize it in order to thrive. In this article I will address exactly that.

What causes inflammation?

Inflammation can be caused by various lifestyle factors, diet, physical pain or stress. Each of these factors will affect us differently, depending to a large degree on our genetic blueprint. 

How we perceive stress and what causes it will vary from one individual to the next. Stress could be physical, like trauma from an accident, intense exercise, hunger, a mugging, or it could be psychological like fear or anxiety

Common causes of psychological stress include: 

•    Any sudden changes in your environment and daily routine 
•    Loss of a loved one
•    Retrenchment
•    Retirement
•    Erratic sleep 
•    Severe traffic or constant traveling 
•    Fear  
•    Anxiety
•    Mental consequences of physical trauma   

The key to health, wellness and longevity is turning off chronic inflammation, which is synonymous with stress or a poor lifestyle.  

There are two pathways that you can use to achieve this objective: mental and physical. 

They work together and form part of the human mind-body system. The best way to approach this problem is twofold...  
 
Keep reading...

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1. The physical pathway to thriving

Aerobic fitness 

There is a mountain of research that supports higher aerobic fitness is associated with much lower rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and increased cognitive function.

Traditionally, this relationship was thought to be due purely to changes in the cardiovascular system itself. However, it’s becoming clearer that a big reason higher aerobic fitness leads to lower risk of the most common lifestyle diseases is because it protects against inflammation. 

One reason for this is this type of exercise stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine. Research is clear that low intensity; endurance training develops the body’s ability to mitigate inflammation. 

On the other hand, high intensity training is a huge driver of inflammation, simply because it places so much stress on all the tissues and the immune system.

Low intensity training includes activities like swimming, cycling, jogging or brisk walking where your heart rate is around 120-140 bpm (beats per minute depending on age). Doing this for 20-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week.  

Nutrition 

Some foods, like dairy, gluten, sugar and most processed foods can elicit an inflammatory response in most people. This varies from one individual to the next and is based on your genetic predispositions.  

A balanced diet based on whole foods that is built around fruit, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains and some dairy while avoiding highly processed foods, like refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats will help you to further reduce the inflammatory response. 

And NOT smoking goes without saying… 

Keep reading for the second path to tackle inflammation... 

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2. The mental pathway to thriving

Psychological stress is after all a state of mind. Dr Ian Weinberg, who pioneered PNE (Psycho-neuro endocrinology) has illustrated that when pro-inflammatory mediators (cortisol, adrenaline and pro-inflammatory cytokines) are high, this activates the amygdala (centre in the brain responsible for fear, anxiety, panic and rage), which in turn suppresses the immune system and lowers dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.

This impairs the pre-frontal cortex (area of the brain responsible for clarity, calmness, reason and focus) and kills cells in the hippocampus (area of the brain responsible for short-term memory and stress buffering).

This pro-inflammatory hormonal cocktail combined with other irritants like cigarette smoke and highly processed foods contribute to a host of diseases. 

In order to create an anti-inflammatory hormonal profile you want to experience positive and optimistic mind states on a regular basis.  

These mind states lead to an increase in dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Which in turn stimulates the prefrontal cortex, the nucleus accumbens and the hippocampus while de-activating the amygdala. The activation of these areas of the brain leads to improved memory, learning, attention, calmness, clarity, reason and interestingly, a reduction in inflammation.  

Go ahead, put these pathways to thriving into action by being proactive about your health rather than waiting until something goes wrong. 

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information on coaching and interventions you can incorporate for thriving. Send me an e-mail @ Reinhard@howtothrive.co.za with the subject “HB”.  


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