I want to talk to you about inflammation. It’s a topic that I’m really interested in and we’ll be having a guest on the podcast quite soon to talk to us about inflammation.
What is inflammation?
It’s the response to the body to the presence of a toxin or a stressor or, for example, a cut. If we get a cut on any part of our skin, we’ll get an inflammatory response. The response will be red and white blood cells flocking to the area to support it, to start healing and repair, and to protect from infection. In that context, an inflammatory response is a really good thing.
We can also get an inflammatory response to, for example, environmental toxins like pollution and chemicals in the air. We can also get it in response to poor food, or food that isn’t suited to us – so if we’re not eating a personalised diet based on our genes or based on our current state of gut health, then some of the foods we eat can cause inflammation.
That, for example, is part of what happens when a celiac consumes wheat or a similar based product. It can also be lack of sleep and stress – if the stress is prolonged and persistent it will cause an inflammatory response in the body. That context is not a good thing.
How can you combat or reduce your risk of inflammation?
The first thing you can try, which is simple in principle, but perhaps harder to implement, is to try consuming a personalised diet. Find out what your body suits from a genetic perspective, but also your current state of gut health, and eat a diet that is suitable. My diet is low carbohydrate, lactose-free, moderate to low saturated fat intake, and then specific foods that I include in my diet (including super foods), and also specific foods that I avoid in my diet based on my current state of gut health. I do an annual gut test, as many of you will know, and I’ve done a one-time genetic test.
The second is look at your sleep. A lack of sleep causes inflammation, and we know that when we get enough sleep, everything is in much more harmony within the body. Sleep should start with a seven – 99.99999% of us need between seven or eight hours of sleep a night or five sleep cycles. As long as your sleep starts with a seven, you’re probably going to be okay, so whether that’s seven hours and a minute, seven hours and 59 minutes, or somewhere in the middle, you’re probably going to be pretty good.
The composition of that sleep also matters, so you need some sort of tracking device. But if you just go for seven hours every night consistently, that’ll stand you in good stead.
The next thing to consider is how you manage your stress. There are things like meditation, mindfulness, doing things that are meditative like walking, spending time in nature, doing things that you enjoy that you really connect with, that really light you up. How you manage your stress is going to have a huge baring on your inflammatory response or lack of.
They’re probably the three key things: Personalised diet, sleep, and management of your stress levels.
It’s okay to be stressed if it’s intermittent and then you recover. But when it’s prolonged and elevated and consistently high levels of stress, that’s when you get an inflammatory response, and that can cause lots of problems for your health right now, but also for your future health.
Have a think about those concepts, and, as ever, if you’ve got questions on that, let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.