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Understanding inflammation

Understanding inflammation

Inflammation is something that affects us all at some point. It occurs when the body's white blood cells and the substances they produce protect us from infection. These are matched by equally powerful, closely related anti-inflammatory compounds, which move in once the threat is neutralised to begin the healing process. So if you have had a cold or virus, or have had an injury exercising, then this is when your body kicks in to try and protect it and inflammation occurs, before subsiding once the worst of it has been dealt with by the cells. Signs that your body is going into protection mode include heat, pain, redness and swelling.

Inflammation can underlie many diseases but thankfully there are some tactics you can try to help prevent conditions including types of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's.

First off, it's important to make sure you are getting plenty of quality sleep. A study from the US found that people over the age of 40 who slept for six hours or less had higher levels of three inflammatory chemicals. One of these is called C-reactive protein and studies have shown that people whose levels of the chemical are in the upper third of the population are doubly at risk of a heart attack compared to those with lower levels. So aim for a solid seven or eight hours of sleep a night.

The problem can occur when you are stressed, so in tense situations, try meditating to clear your mind and focus on your body. A study even found that meditation reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes. Likewise, exercise has always been classed as a top stress-buster and has been found in research to reduce chronic inflammation. Aerobic exercise, resistance training and moderate cardio are all highly recommended to help with the issue, and could possibly help you lose weight at the same time which won't do your inflammation problems any harm either. Walking and yoga also get the thumbs up so there're plenty of options for you to try depending on your exercise preferences.

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