In the US, we are obsessed with youth. Marketers’ dedication to it can’t help but make us think that something is wrong with getting old. In this series, I want to focus less on what US culture defines as “anti-aging,” and more into caring for ourselves, preparing and living our all-around best in our second half of life. Let’s stop focusing on our appearance and/or our life span, and consider how we can increase our health span.   

As you age, it is likely that your body is on fire. For today, I am not referring to the “I am super hot” way, or the “I am super passionate” way. 

No smoke’n fire emojis here— I am talking about an excess of inflammation. Like me, it is likely that if you are middle age and/or concerned about your health and wellness, you have heard or seen this word start to pop up everywhere. You might even use it to describe certain symptoms, or sensations, in your own body. Gurus and marketers encourage us to address it, and then instead of given tips on how to do so, we are often offered some kind of product or program to purchase. 

Even though it has become increasingly more popular amongst TikTokers and podcasters, I want to scream it from the rooftops that inflammation is NOT just a buzzword. Chronic inflammation is incredibly serious, and when it is ignored the fire can rage out of control, causing -‘itis diseases that shorten our health spans, and literally take years off our lives. So, don’t let your eyes glaze over, or your ears become deaf to the real, seriousness of the massive impact that inflammation is having on our daily lives, and future health.

Many of you reading these messages are daily exercisers, or endurance athletes. It is vitally important for athletes of all types to maintain a healthy balance of inflammation since we are initiating wear and tear on our bodies daily. While it is true that exercise is good for the immune system, if we don’t support it well, we will end up sick and on fire

It is time to tame that blaze. (And don’t worry—no product placement here ;))

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a normal body process. Generally speaking, it is the body’s immune system response to an irritant. When your body activates your immune system, it sends out inflammatory cells to attack or heal a damaged tissue. Acute inflammation is the body’s response to sudden damage—like cutting your finger. Chronic inflammation is when your body sends out inflammatory cells when you are not sick or injured. 

Chronic inflammation is harder to identify since the symptoms mimic many others illnesses and diagnoses. Some include abdominal pain, chest pain, fatigue or insomnia, fever, joint pain, mouth sore, skin rash, mood disorders, GI issues, weight gain or weight loss, and frequent infections. It is involved in the disease process of certain cancers, autoimmune disease, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, GI diseases, lung diseases, mental health conditions, and Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease.  

Some pretty serious “buzz.” But, okay, enough science.

Here are some (simplified) ways that we can tame the fire raging in our body… while of course still staying super good looking and extremely passionate..: 

  • Stay lean. I didn’t say “skinny”– click here for a simple explanation of the difference.
  • Eat Fish. Omega-3s are the healthiest anti-inflammatory foods you can eat.
  • Change your oils. Fish oils are anti-inflammatory; some factory-processed vegetable oils can be pro-inflammatory. 
  • Eat phytonutrients. For a list of anti-inflammatory foods click here.
  • Eat healthy carbs to stabilize your insulin. Also, graze and eat a high fiber diet. 
  • MOVE— vigorously, at least 3-times per week to promote an anti-inflammatory response. 
  • Breathe clean air. This is a massive rabbit hole I could take us down, and I won’t do that to you today. But, I urge you to consider the pollutants you bring into your homes.
  • Stay calm. Laugh more!
  • Take care of your gums. Gingivitis is a common source of inflammation entering the body. 
  • Be aware— anti-inflammatory drugs have health risks. They are hard on your heart, and irritating to the gut. Don’t overdo the ibuprofen!
  • Ask your doctor about measuring your inflammation markers. 

Like I mentioned, this list is a simplified one that I know I am presenting to a bio-individual audience. BUT, these simple changes can still make a big difference for most of us. Even if you don’t feel like a fire is raging inside you yet, I urge you to consider where you can make some preventative measures to keep your inflammation balanced. Our standard American way of life won’t automatically set you up for success. 

Take the steps to tame your own blaze today.