Externally, inflammation is a sign your immune system is trying to protect you. But sometimes you get inflammation inside your body even when there’s no obvious injury. This is the case with autoimmune diseases, in which your immune system attacks your own tissues or organs. Then you get all the damage of inflammation without any of the protection.
Even if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, however, inflammation can be harmful when it is chronic and internal. Dr. Gabe Mirkin, one of the web’s better known fitness, health, and nutrition gurus, claims that chronic inflammation can produce heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and cancer. I will let you follow the link if you are interested in the process of how inflammation creates the damage. (Note that Dr. Mirkin even points to a connection between inflammation and muscle loss with aging.)
Dr. Mirkin says that chronic inflammation can result from bad lifestyle choices, and he points to seven of these:
- being overweight
- drinking too much alcohol
- overexposure to sunlight
- lack of exercise
- Vitamin D deficiency
- dietary factors including red meat, fried food, and beverages with sugar in them.
Basically, anything that is capable of creating cellular damage is capable of creating chronic internal inflammation. Dr. Mirkin’s simple advice is the best you’ll get on the subject: avoid those lifestyle choices that contribute to chronic inflammation. If you have already made those lifestyle choices, reverse them. Breaking a habit that contributes to inflammation may not eliminate the bad effects immediately, but it’s your best chance of doing so.
If you believe you may be suffering the effects of chronic inflammation, it’s never too late to lose weight, exercise, give up smoking, swear off alcohol and soft drinks, and start eating lots of fruits and vegetables. If you take these steps, and you’re still not feeling better, keep at it. It probably took you a long time to get to your current state. But recent research suggests that after you’ve made those changes in your life, it may be possible to hurry your recovery process, by fighting inflammation directly with whole body cryotherapy (WBC).
It turns out that severe exercise induces inflammatory markers in the bloodstream, so in a 2011 study (PDF), researchers monitored five of these markers in 11 men before and after a simulated 48-minute trail running race. Each participant did the simulated race twice (the two tests were separated by 3 weeks), once followed by passive recovery and once followed by a 3-minute session of whole body cryotherapy (WBC). They were tested for the inflammatory markers both before and after each simulated race. The researchers found a significant difference in the markers between passive recovery and WBC, which led them to write, “In conclusion, a unique session of WBC (3 min at -110º C) performed immediately after exercise enhanced muscular recovery by restricting the inflammatory process.” They hypothesized that multiple WBC sessions would have an even greater effect. That proves to my satisfaction that WBC enhances recovery after exercise. But the indication that it reduces inflammation markers in the bloodstream also suggests that it helps to control inflammation in general. If you book a WBC session at Peak Recovery & Health Center, it will take you only three minutes to find out if it helps with your inflammation.