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  • Writer's pictureHolly Shoebridge

What is inflammation? And how to help alleviate it.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural immune response & defence mechanism, the body’s attempt to remove potentially harmful stimuli and heal. It can be one of the first immune responses to infection or irritation.

The inflammatory response (inflammation) occurs when tissues are injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, or any other cause. The damaged cells trigger various biochemical reactions within bodymind.

These biochemical changes cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling. This helps to isolate the foreign substance from further contact with bodily tissues, which is effectively a protection mechanism within our miraculous bodymind!

That's why you may notice that inflammation is typically indicated by heat, swelling, redness or pain.

Why are we talking about inflammation?

Inflammation can be one of our first signs, symptoms or messengers from the body regarding illness or injury.

When considering illness and more longer term conditions, inflammation can be a messenger potentially indicating the need for some form of lifestyle change.

Inflammation (and lymphatic stagnation) can underpin and/or contribute to so many of today's illnesses, mental health and cognitive issues, pain, chronic conditions, gut issues, alzheimers, cancer, disease and so on.

Drivers of inflammation? Non exhaustive list

  • Processed foods

  • Refined sugars

  • Alcohol

  • Dairy

  • Stress

  • Toxic load

  • Hindered/poor quality Sleep

  • Lack of regular physical movement

The good news?

While inflammation can be an early messenger from the bodymind, we also need not wait for inflammation to occur, and we can take a more preventative/pro active approach to living and related lifestyle.

The vagal system (vagus nerve) interacts with the inflammatory system, and increases in vagus nerve traffic are associated with decreases in various inflammatory cytokines.

This means you can help to alleviate inflammation, and enhance overall health & wellbeing, by stimulating the vagus nerve! See below for suggestions to alleviate inflammation and/or stimulate the vagus nerve.

Ways to help alleviate inflammation?

  1. Moving the body moves the lymphatic system (which is effectively the sewerage system of the body, collecting cellular/metabolic waste & expelling via detoxification channels)

  2. Eating an anti inflammatory diet rich in wholefoods, fruit & vegetables.

    1. The Mediterranean Diet (often seen eaten by the inhabitants of the Blue Zones of the planet) is a widely recommended approach that you may wish to consider.

  3. Breathing consciously (slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing helps to stimulate vagus nerve, pump the lymphatic system & oxygenate cells, tissues, organs & blood)

  4. Chanting or humming as an add on to step 3 above

  5. Alleviating stress (via conscious self care practices applied consistently, also helps increase overall stress resilience). Some suggestions below, in addition to others in this wider list:

    1. Connect with family, friends, community

    2. Connect your bare feet with the earth daily (grounding or earthing)

    3. Sit in the sunshine for up to 20 minutes daily, with as much skin exposed as possible

    4. Spend time in nature, step away from work, screens, obligations and commune with Mother Nature regularly.

  6. Hydrating with quality filtered & structured water

  7. Cold water plunges, showers or even simply splashing your face with cold water

We have so much that is within our own means and control that we can utilise to facilitate positive health outcomes.

All thoughts, actions & behaviours are deeply interconnected with the overall health, wellbeing & vitality experienced by the bodymind. When we become mindful of our thoughts, actions & behaviours, we then have the ability to make conscious lifestyle choices and implement conscious change.

Through more conscious thoughts, actions, behaviours and lifestyle choices, we are better able to facilitate greater overall health, wellbeing and vitality in bodymind, which is by default and concurrently, alleviating inflammation as well as other issues and/or ailments.

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