When we get hurt or have an infection, the body’s natural response is to trigger inflammation. Short-term inflammation helps the body heal as white blood cells fight off bacteria and viruses. Normal inflammation manifests as pain, swelling, redness, and a sensation of heat. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can occur in conjunction with some diseases, like arthritis, and it can also raise the risk of developing diabetes. In these cases, inflammation continues for years and damages body tissue. Individuals suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, gum disease, poor diet or obesity are among those at risk for long-term inflammation.
Researchers have found that chronic inflammation raises the risk of developing diabetes because it interferes with insulin’s ability to regulate glucose, which can cause high blood sugar. Inflammation damages beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas, and inflammation is also a result of the main diabetes risk factors – obesity, smoking, and diets high in fat and sugar. High-carb, low protein diets are inflammatory for many people, but low-carb diets and diets higher in fruits and vegetables have been known to reduce inflammation. In observational studies, participants on the Mediterranean diet – high in fish, whole grains, beans, nuts and vegetables – have reported low inflammatory markers.
Gum disease, air pollution and cigarette smoke, and lack of exercise are all threats that can lead to chronic inflammation. These risk factors can be reduced through good dental hygiene, the use of indoor HEPA filters and by avoiding cigarette smoke, and with regular exercise. There are also some foods, spices and teas that can help to reduce inflammation. One of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods is dark chocolate! One square of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) a day can help reduce inflammation. You can also reduce inflammation by drinking a few cups of rose hip tea a day, and by adding the spice turmeric to food. If you would prefer to take a rose hip or turmeric supplement, talk to your doctor to make sure these supplements don’t conflict with any medication you’re taking. Your doctor can also test for inflammation and work with you to develop a treatment plan.