Are You Inflamed?
December 14th, 2021 / Lifestyle Medicine
Maybe you’ve heard of chronic inflammation. It’s not that kind of red, angry inflammation you get when you skin your knee or twist your ankle or get a splinter. It’s the kind that happens inside your body—the kind that goes on and on at a low level and doesn’t go away, causing all kinds of damage that you can’t see and may not even feel. Since chronic inflammation is plays a part in just about every major chronic disease currently afflicting the modern world—from heart disease to diabetes, arthritis, lung disease, and more, it’s important to know if it’s a problem you have.
A lot of people have chronic inflammation. But do you? How would you even know? First of all, chronic inflammation doesn’t necessarily have any symptoms at all. You could have a risky level of chronic inflammation and only find out if your doctor gives you a high-sensitivity c-reactive protein (hs-CRP) lab test and tells you there is a problem.
But sometimes, chronic inflammation does have symptoms. Knowing you have symptoms of inflammation can prompt you to ask for the hs-CRP test, but you can also start intervening now with anti-inflammatory foods, moderate regular exercise, and stress management. Can you check three or more of the following boxes, which are all signs that you might have a high level of chronic inflammation?
Do you have?
- Joint pain and/or joint stiffness
- Muscle pain and/or stiffness not related to exercise
- A general overall achy or uncomfortable feeling
- Fatigue even when you’ve been getting enough sleep
- Rapid weight gain or loss with no apparent cause
- Chronic acid reflux or other digestive problems like stomach pain after eating
- Seasonal allergies that seem to last all year long
- A dull feeling, like you aren’t fully awake or engaged
- Frequent anxiety
- Feelings of depression
- Brain fog, or problems concentrating, paying attention, or focusing on work
- A tendency to catch every cold, flu, or other viruses going around
- A diagnosed autoimmune disease
- Untreated Lyme disease
- A BMI over 29
- More than 2 alcoholic drinks on most days
- Chronic stress or burnout
- A smoking habit
If you do have three or more of these symptoms, it’s quite possible you have chronic inflammation, and I recommend you ask your doctor for an hs-CRP test. I also recommend transitioning into an anti-inflammatory lifestyle as soon as you can. Start with small dietary changes and short exercise sessions, and work your way up to a vegetable- and seafood-heavy diet and about 150 minutes of exercise each week. Start reducing your stress where you can, and prioritize your health before you lose it. Inflammation is a red flag—it’s your body begging you to pay attention! Fortunately, when you stop interfering with your body’s natural healing processes via healthful lifestyle habits, you are likely to start feeling better and more vibrant within a few weeks.
I have a full healthy lifestyle program in my book, Vibrant, which I hope you will consult if you want to learn more.
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