by Mark Hyman, M.D.
Could something as simple as a quick and easy blood test save your life? Absolutely.
It’s called a C-reactive protein test, and it measures the degree of hidden inflammation in your body.
Finding out whether or not you are suffering from hidden inflammation is critical because almost every modern disease is caused or affected by it. If your immune system and its ability to quell inflammation in your body are impaired, watch out. You are headed toward illness and premature aging.
Fortunately, addressing the causes of inflammation and learning how to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle can dramatically improve your health.
Today, I am going to review what the primary causes of inflammation are and give you a simple seven-step approach that will help you cool the fires raging out of control in your body.
How to locate the causes of hidden inflammation
So if inflammation and immune imbalances are at the root of most of modern disease, how do we find the causes and get the body back in balance?
First, we need to identify the triggers and causes of inflammation. Then we need to help reset the body’s natural immune balance by providing the right conditions for it to thrive.
As a doctor, my job is to find those inflammatory factors unique to each person and to see how various lifestyle, environmental or infectious factors spin the immune system out of control, leading to a host of chronic illnesses.
Thankfully, the list of things that cause inflammation is relatively short:
- Poor diet (mostly sugar, refined flours, processed foods and inflammatory fats such as trans and saturated fats)
- Lack of exercise
- Hidden or chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, yeasts or parasites
- Hidden allergens from food or the environment
- Toxins such as mercury and pesticides
- Mold toxins and allergens
By listening carefully to a person’s story and performing a few specific tests, I can discover the causes of inflammation for most people.
7 steps to living an anti-inflammatory life
So once you have figured out the causes of inflammation in your life and gotten rid of them, the next step is to keep living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. But how do you do that?
Here is what I recommend. It’s a disarmingly simple but extraordinarily effective way to achieve UltraWellness:
- Whole foods: Eat a whole foods, high-fiber, plant-based diet, which is inherently anti-inflammatory. That means choosing unprocessed, unrefined, whole, fresh, real foods, not those full of sugar and trans fats and low in powerful anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients.
- Healthy fats: Give yourself an oil change by eating healthy monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts and avocadoes, and getting more omega-3 fats from small fish like sardines, herring, sable and wild salmon.
- Regular exercise: Mounting evidence tells us that regular exercise reduces inflammation. It also improves immune function, strengthens your cardiovascular systems, corrects and prevents insulin resistance, and is key for improving your mood and erasing the effects of stress. In fact, regular exercise is one among a small handful of lifestyle changes that correlates with improved health in virtually ALL of the scientific literature. So get moving already!
- Relax: Learn how to engage your vagus nerve by actively relaxing. This powerful nerve relaxes your whole body and lowers inflammation when you practice yoga or meditation, breathe deeply or even take a hot bath.
- Avoid allergens: If you have food allergies, find out what you’re allergic to and stop eating those foods — gluten and dairy are two common culprits.
- Heal your gut: Take probiotics to help your digestion and improve the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, which reduces inflammation.
- Supplement: Take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement, fish oil and vitamin D, all of which help reduce inflammation.
Taking this comprehensive approach to inflammation and balancing your immune system addresses one of the most important core systems of the body.
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, M.D.