Remember when doctors used to smoke in their offices? Well now they don’t because now we know better. As health care progresses, more focus is being put on lifestyle as a major component of health. The most commonly diagnosed diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes and respiratory illnesses can all be shown to be greatly affected by lifestyle choices.
Inflammation is a big topic in healthcare and rightfully so. There’s mounting evidence that high levels of inflammation in the body put a person’s health in increasing jeopardy. That’s why we examine what lifestyle factors lead to inflammation.
Diet can be a big contributor to inflammation. It’s not just what you eat that can lead to more inflammation in your body. It’s also how, when and why you eat (are you hungry or stuffing your feelings?).
Stress levels are another one. Whether that’s sitting and working at your desk or whether it’s being a weekend warrior, stress will cause wear and tear (inflammation) on your body. The question to ask is, are you giving your body and mind enough recovery time?
Rest and sleep are two major components that are inadequate in many people’s lifestyles. We often rely on a few weeks of vacation per year to “catch up” on sleep and rest.
Also, how restful is your sleep? Are you actually resting or are you worrying about something or replaying a painful time from your past in your mind? If so, your adrenaline levels are being elevated and more inflammation is created.
These are just a few examples of how inflammation is created in the body and how disease sets in. Consequently what we are searching for in our health care is a cure for the effects of inflammation. If you are open to using a medication as a cure, you may opt for a cortisone injection or an anti-inflammatory. You may try an over-the-counter to subdue a case of acid reflux or a headache.
If you have joint pain, water retention or sciatica and are more naturally-minded, you may look to someone like a naturopath or a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to address these indicators of inflammation.
Taking a step back for a minute, why do you suppose inflammation happens in the first place? And how can it be that it can occur in any tissue of the body?
Inflammation (specifically acute inflammation) is a natural part of the healing response from the body. It is meant to flood a damaged area with blood in order to bring immune cells (the clean up crew) and nutrients and new tissue building materials and to take away dead cells and waste material. This is why acute inflammation shows up as redness, pain, swelling and heat.
Chronic inflammation is a different animal. It is like a smouldering fire that never really goes out and it keeps on burning. This chronic inflammation is the main cause of degeneration of tissues (not old age as is commonly believed). This is the inflammation that is at the root of lifestyle diseases.
Over the years I’ve worked with many patients who wonder these questions: if I’m eating well and take good care of myself and I’m eliminating sources of stress, why do I still have these symptoms (indicators of inflammation)? How can I get over this and optimize how my body works?
The answer lies in the Operating System of your body. This system touches all tissues and helps to maintain their healthy balance. It is called the autonomic nervous system. If your Operating System is not balanced (between sympathetic and parasympathetic) then chronic inflammation is more likely to persist in your body even if you’re doing all the right things.
This imbalance runs “underground” while the symptoms of inflammation and disease show up on the surface. Even if you try to eliminate the symptoms but don’t dig deeper, you will most likely continue to have an imbalance in your Operating System. Chronic inflammation will continue.
The main objective of Neuro-Structural care at the Happy Spine is to balance your Operating System. It takes time energy and commitment to re-program a malfunctioning Operating System but once it is reprogrammed, it typically stays that way. That’s when you will find that all the lifestyle changes which you are implementing will bring you to the next level of health.