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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Patella

INFLAMMATION

Updated: Mar 30


An enemy from within - AND - it’s direct correlation on Aging

Often when we hear “inflammation” we think of joint inflammation or a surface swelling with redness visible to the naked eye. But research has proven a low-grade inflammation exists in the joints and tissue with few if any overt symptoms and that can be a direct correlation to disease such as hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, immune disorders and even cancer.  The National Library of Medicine of the National Institute of Health talks about inflammation being an “aging” disease.  “Aging is associated with increased inflammation”. One of my clients has been experiencing pain and inflammation as a result of osteopenia, a diet rich in foods that cause inflammation, and, since COVID, had not been as active as they could be.  With a change in diet, adding the appropriate exercises, stretching, and their quality of life has improved dramatically. The truth is as we age, we, generally move less.  Possibly we have had a series of injuries or physical overuse issues that can cause inflammation in the joints or affected areas.  We do have the increased risk with disease directly associated with aging like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, poor immune health, and osteoarthritis to name a few. The Chopra Foundation recently revealed this “Going past lifestyle disorders, chronic inflammation may be the key to aging.”   This is from an article written by Deepak Chopra, MD, William C. Bushell, PhD, Ryan Castle, David Vago, PhD, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. several years ago.  You can believe that much more research had been done and continues to be done especially in light of the increased lifespan in our society.

But here it is right in our face:  inflammation causes pain and opens the doors to disease.  What causes it besides the potential disease?  How can I manage the inflammation in my own body?  It’s there.  You go to get up and your knee hurts, or worse, gives out on you.  You go to pick something up and feel a wrenching in your back.  You eat poorly and your belly bloats up causing intestinal pain and pressure on your back. The catch 22 is that with inflammation of the joints every movement is painful so you end up moving as little as possible.  Lack of movement builds more inflammation.  Or your doctors prescribe pain medication that may also add to the inflammation.  On and on it goes.

What does this mean for me and my life?

What are the tools for me to manage inflammation occurring as I age? Exercise:

It improves circulation, moves toxins, builds our immune system, helps us to relax and sleep better, strengthens our bones and muscles, and more.  Walk, swim, do low impact activities, maybe ride a bike with your family.  Do activities that give you joy like golf, tennis, hiking, gardening, and dancing.  Start out easy and if it’s something you like you are more apt to stick with it.  Don’t forget to stretch – stretching is just as important as the increased activity part.  Stretching minimizes the risk of injury, moves toxins, reduces muscle spasms and helps us to relax. Eat A Healthy Diet:

Cut back on processed, fried, and fast foods that have a lot of preservatives to give them a greater shelf life.  Eat “live” foods: a variety of vegetables and fruits; fresh foods not something that is processed and been sitting in a bag or box for months.  Lots of fish, chicken and low-fat meats cooked with spices like turmeric, cumin, garlic and ginger - they all have anti-inflammatory properties.  Try smaller portions with frequent eating to prevent hunger that promotes an “out of control” reaction.  Plant based proteins are loaded with antioxidants that fight inflammation and free radicals that develop with stress, environmental factors and disease.  Your diet plays the bigger role in health and weight management. Live a Balanced Lifestyle Filled with Joy and Great Sleep:

Easy to say but for many it’s hard to do.  As we age sleeping becomes more difficult.  Just look at all of the drugs designed to help us “sleep better”.  Drugs that can cause inflammation.  Enjoy a meditation before bed.  Prepare for bed-don’t leave the TV on all night.  Ever notice that at about 3:00am you are woken up from a screaming commercial designed to wake you up.  Create a sleep inducive environment.  Your body, mind, and emotions need the rest to recover, stay healthy and fight disease. What does joy have to do with inflammation?  Aging can cause loneliness: the children have grown up and have their own lives; your partner may have passed away; your friends may have moved or also passed away; you are retired and no longer have that social outlet – this all lends itself to depression and mental health problems that cause stress and inflammation.  While joy creates the opposite.  Turn on some music that reminds you of wonderful memories and dance all over the house!  Call up someone you know that needs a friend and who may be feeling just like you and take a walk together or go to lunch. It is your life and your choice.  Take action before you find yourself in a position that you can’t.

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