CBD Health Sydney Blog

What Is Inflammation & How Does It Impact My Body?

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Picture of Megan Restuccia
Megan Restuccia

Naturopath, Nutritionist & Herbalist

What is inflammation?

When toxins, infections or injuries attempt to attack the body, inflammation is how the body defends itself and begins the healing process. When your cells become damaged, chemicals are released that triggers a response by the immune system in your body. Antibodies, protein and increased blood flow flood the damaged cells and begin to heal and protect the area. 

Acute inflammation can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several days and be the result of a scrape on your elbow to recovering from a minor virus. Chronic inflammation occurs when this immune response lingers, leaving the body in a continuous state of alert. This can lead to chronic pain, persistent infections, unrelenting fatigue, digestive complaints and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

What are some other causes of inflammation?

Food allergies or sensitivities, smoking, excessive alcohol and/or drug use, diet rich in processed foods, high-fructose sugar and saturated fats. As well as stress, poor sleep, autoimmune diseases, long-term exposure to environmental pollutants, lack of daily movement and a recent illness can all cause excessive inflammation.

What can we do to reduce inflammation?

1. Move your body daily. As much as possible. Subtle changes such as replacing your regular work desk with a sit to stand desk is an excellent start. Walking while talking on the phone, parking your car further away from the entrance, or getting off public transport one stop earlier so you’re forced to walk more are all great ways to increase your daily movement. Think about ways to move that you enjoy as well!!! I am not a huge fan of exercising in a gym….sports, dancing or walking have always been my preferred methods of exercise and movement. One of my current favourite ways to move is having an afternoon dance party with my 2 year old daughter in our living room! We wiggle, we shake, we jump and we laugh. This has done wonders for my tight hips, stress levels and of course lowering my internal inflammation. Still not sure where to start with moving your body? Working with an Osteopath can help you with this. They will start by having a look at your posture, assess your joint movement and range of motion and will speak to you about where you feel any pain or discomfort. They can provide you with suitable exercises and stretches that will enable you to get moving better and more comfortably!

2. SLEEP! This may seem too simple, but it’s true. Studies show that good quality sleep can drastically improve inflammation levels. Many of us fail to get good quality sleep most nights. Whether it’s going to sleep too late, our brain’s inability to quiet down, waking in the middle of the night, or constantly tossing and turning or a mix of all of the above, we could all improve our sleep on some level. I am passionate about improving my client’s sleep and have created a fantastic Sleep hygiene handout that the majority of my clients receive with their treatment plan. 

3. Consume a diet that is full of antioxidants, polyphenols and herbs and spices. Ensure the majority of your meals and beverages are warm or at least room temperature. Heat aids in decreasing internal inflammation and helps with digestion and circulation. The Mediterranean and Anti-inflammatory eating plans are excellent guides to help you with this task.

Here are a list of some anti-inflammatory foods that you should consume often:

  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, salmon, sardines, avocado

  • Fruits and vegetables especially berries, tomatoes and dark leafy greens

  • Nuts and seeds particularly brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds and pepitas

  • Herbal teas such as green tea, chamomile, peppermint, ginger and lemon, dandelion

  • Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, parsley, coriander, turmeric, rosemary, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper

  • Filtered water! Starting your day with a cup of hot water and some freshly squeezed lemon juice can do wonders for lowering inflammation and kickstarting your liver

4. In addition to moving your body more and eating more anti-inflammatory foods, working with a qualified Naturopath who can blend an individualized liquid herbal formula for you can also be beneficial. There are so many anti-inflammatory herbs that can help to reduce pain and inflammation. Liquid herbs can be blended in varying doses depending on what your body needs at that time. Some of my favourite anti-inflammatory herbs that I prescribe to my clients include: Curcuma longa, Bupleurum falcatum, Apium graveolens, Rehmannia glutinosa, Centella asiatica, Plantago lanceolata, Calendula officinalis and Chamomilla recutita. 

Conditions that benefit from anti-inflammatory herbal blends:

  • Digestive:

    • Inflammatory bowel disease

    • Irritable bowel syndrome

    • SIBO

    • Many other digestive complaints such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea

  • Musculo-skeletal: 

    • Arthritis 

    • Gout

    • General pain and inflammation

    • Stiff joints

  • Skin conditions:

    • Eczema

    • Psoriasis

    • Dermatitis

    • Rosacea

  • Respiratory:

    • Chronic sinusitis

    • Hayfever 

    • Asthma

    • Cold, flu and other viruses

  • Reproductive:

    • Endometriosis

    • Adenomyosis

5. Get allergy and food sensitivity testing done. Even a mild food sensitivity can cause chronic inflammation in the body. This can manifest differently in different people. Post-nasal drip, digestive complaints, headaches, mild skin rashes to name a few…can all be a result of your body reacting to a food or allergen. Knowing the difference between an allergy and simply a sensitivity is also important as your body will react differently depending on whether it’s an allergy or not. Working with a Naturopath that understands this and the various pathology tests required is imperative. If the pathology tests show any food or environmental sensitivities, then we can work out an individualized plan to reduce your inflammation and reset your microbiome and get you back to feeling your best! Contrary to what you may have heard, most of the time you don’t need to eliminate a particular food from your diet forever. Just for a period of time while we work on lowering inflammation, rebalancing and rebuilding the microbiome so it becomes strong again and able to process and digest properly.

6. Assess your breathing. Is your breath shallow and quick? Or slow, full and regular? In this day and age with constant screen use, our breath tends to speed up and become more shallow when it shouldn’t. Our breath should only become shallow and fast during the fight or flight response. This gives us the additional boost we need to exercise or run away from a fire. However if our bodies remain too long in this fight or flight state, it can lead to excessive inflammation. Ensuring your breath is slow, deep and regular will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which encourages your body to relax, digest and reduce inflammation! Chronic dysfunctional breathing can also mean your diaphragm, ribs and chest do not move properly to allow for correct breathing. This is where working with us can help to get you moving and breathing correctly again. We can help to assess your breathing and provide you with suitable breathing exercises to improve the way you breathe.

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