One of the commonalities I’m observing in the “at-risk” groups for COVID-19 is the common theme of chronic inflammation. In the integrative world, we’ve been looking at inflammation as a “root cause” of disease for a long time.
Inflammation can be a very good thing. If you sprain your ankle, for example, your body sends in the troops to manage the damage. Inflammation causes the swelling, redness, and heat and activates the healing processes.
Unfortunately, in today’s society of stress, processed foods, unhealthy fats, large sugar intake, and overindulgence in alcohol, inflammation becomes chronic. Those same processes that are in place to protect our bodies become overwhelmed with the jobs they have to perform to keep up with how we actually treat our bodies.
Evidence is rising to support inflammation as a root cause of coronary artery disease (CAD), type II diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimers, and I have found it to be the cause of most gut issues, chronic pain, autoimmune conditions, and more.
I won’t go into all the science here. Just know this. When the inflammatory response has to work so hard and for so long and when it’s exposed to invaders it’s not meant to deal with (think sugar, alcohol, and processed foods), the response becomes chronic. So basically, your body is in a state of constant inflammation, which is what is very likely causing weight gain, fluid retention (puffiness), joint pain, bloating, and many other symptoms, chronic disease, and making people more susceptible to infections.
I once heard someone describe working with the “root cause” of conditions like this: When you get flies from a large pile of garbage, it won’t matter how many cans of insecticide you spray, you won’t get rid of the flies until you get rid of the garbage. We have to uncover the cause of the inflammation (the garbage) before we start throwing insecticide on it (drugs, surgeries, and even supplements).
I’m not a practitioner who asks people to give up everything at once. I’d love to see that happen, but it’s not practical in today’s world. I usually start with this question, “What’s the one thing in your life that you know deep down is a problem for your health?” Almost everyone has that one thing. Just start there. Or, maybe that one thing feels too big, so start with something small and gain some traction before tackling the larger one.
Here are some simple suggestions to help:
Could your diet use some help?
Start by practicing the rainbow diet. Try to eat every color of fruits and vegetables every day. Colorful fruits and veggies are full of antioxidants which help your body reduce the chronic inflammation. And, you’ll be more full from eating foods that help and don’t hurt.
Is stress a large factor for you?
Try adding just 5 minutes of meditation. Download a free meditation app and allow yourself a short moment of peace and quiet. You can add one minute at a time. Even a few minutes of quieting your mind can take you out of the “fight-or-flight” high stress mode and begin to reduce inflammation from stress hormones.
Are you overindulging in sugar or alcohol?
Take a day off, read one of the amazing books out there about the root causes of overindulgence, and ask yourself the hard questions about why you are really overindulging. Could it be boredom, loneliness, grief, or fear of missing out? When we understand the reasons why we do things, we can find other ways to fill those needs.
Does all of this feel overwhelming?
If it feels overwhelming and like you don’t know where to begin, go and see an integrative/functional/holistic provider. We will check inflammatory markers in your blood, instead of waiting for you to have a long-term issue. If we were looking at inflammation before someone has elevated levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, or positive cancer markers, it is my belief that we could stop a lot of chronic diseases from every occurring in the first place.
If you live in Portland, I’m here to help you. Click here to learn more.
Take good care and watch out for how inflammation might be affecting you and your life. Puffiness isn’t normal, it’s your body telling you it’s working awfully hard and you can absolutely do something about it!
Please ask any questions below and let me know how I can help, and be sure to share this post with friends who might need to read it, too.
*Please note that inflammation is by far not the only root cause of risk for COVID-19 complications. It’s one that I understand and hope to help people uncover to avoid future risk.