The Exercise Inflammation Connection
BY STEVE BORN AND LOREN MASON-GERE
A customer recently called in with some very good questions regarding exercise and inflammation. Having read this publication for some time and followed our discussions on exercise, inflammation, and it’s role in health decline, they were confused. “Wait a minute,” they said, “I thought exercise was good for your health, and have read that it reduces inflammation. But you’re saying it can be a cause—what’s the deal?”
This is a common source of confusion and well worth some explanation. Follow along on this short science lesson and you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to make exercise—and its role in inflammation—work for, not against, your health.
First, you need to understand that inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. The body sees a problem such as stress, injury, or foreign invaders (such as bacterial or viral infection) and enacts this response as a defense. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the type of inflammation and how much time the body remains in that state.
Acute inflammation is short-term, with effects subsiding after a few days. It occurs from things like minor injuries (e.g. cuts, scrapes, sprains) and minor sicknesses (sore throats, etc.), as well as after bouts of exercise. In fact, some inflammation is actually necessary to benefit from your workouts. It’s part of the natural recovery process and the body compensating from the stress the workout caused.
Chronic inflammation (a.k.a. systemic inflammation) is long-term, persistent, and unhealthy, even if it is only low-grade. Though damaged body tissues rely on the inflammatory response in order to heal, when that cycle becomes chronic and inflammation does not resolve, health issues emerge. In fact, research shows that inflammation is an underlying culprit behind virtually all age-related diseases.
In each situation, white blood cell counts are increased in order to accelerate healing. This is a healthful, natural process and a good thing so long as it passes quickly. In chronic inflammation, white blood cell activity is increased more than necessary and remains elevated for long periods of time. This prolonged “state of emergency” can trigger disease processes, causing lasting damage to heart, brain, and other organs. It also slows recovery, increases rates of inflection and sickness, and sets you up for over-use related injuries. As Dr. Peter Libby, cardiovascular specialist and inflammation authority, states, “Our own defenses literally bombard us with friendly fire.”
The scariest thing about this process is that it happens slowly and silently. According to integrative medical expert, Dr. James Dillard, “One of the most dangerous things about chronic inflammation is that you can’t feel it happening.”
Fortunately, steps to preventing and addressing all forms of inflammation are within your grasp. Apply the following tips to ensure that your body quickly moves through the inflammation process, thus building up stronger and healthier all the time.
Exercise regularly and recover completely. Exercise decreases levels of TNF (tumor necrosis factor) and CRP (C-reactive protein), both of which are involved in systemic inflammation. The key to reaping the benefits of exercise and avoiding chronic inflammation is making sure that you allow enough time for the body to recover after every strenuous session.
Eliminate sugar from your diet. Cytokines are “small secreted proteins released by cells that have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells.” Diets high in sugar (and refined starches) cause excessive production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus reducing the body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes, and leaving you in a state of crisis.
Reduce stress. A 2012 study from The Rockefeller University showed that chronic stress diminishes the ability of cortisol—the “stress hormone”—to help regulate the inflammatory response associated with stress, allowing inflammation to run rampant.
Drink enough water. Without adequate water, toxins linger in the body, leading to inflammation. We recommend drinking water in amounts that equal half your body weight in pounds each day (e.g. A 180-pound person should drink 90 ounces of water daily).
Optimizing gut health by consuming cultured foods and taking probiotic supplements (Digest Caps or iFlora). Research shows a strong link between gut microorganism imbalance and chronic inflammation. This inexpensive, easy step will also support nutrient assimilation and all other aspects of health.
Consumption of anti-inflammatory foods. High on the list are green leafy vegetables, nuts, fruits (especially berries and cherries), and fatty fish such as salmon. See the article Fight Inflammation With These 7 Superfoods in Endurance News #94.
Supplement with anti-inflammatory nutrients. Effectively tame both acute and chronic inflammation with consistent use of the following supplements:
- Tissue Rejuvenator is the premier product for joint health; every single nutrient in Tissue Rejuvenator has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
- EndurOmega supplies the body with omega-3 fatty acids, well-known for their superior anti-inflammatory benefits.
- AO Booster is a dual-benefit product with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- EnduroZyme not only helps you digest the food you eat more thoroughly and completely, many of its ingredients are also superb anti-inflammatories.
- CBD Oil. An ever-increasing body of research is showing that the naturally occurring compound, cannabidiol (pronounced can-uh-bih-DIE-all), also known as CBD, provides extraordinary relief from pain and inflammation, with no tolerance build-up or a kind of dependence commonly found with opioid use.
- Hammer Whey. While whey protein isolate’s primary function is to support muscular recovery—which will help to ensure acute inflammation passes quickly—it also supplies anti-inflammatory benefits.
While exercise does cause acute inflammation, when properly addressed and balanced with recovery, the results are positive for your health—and performance. When left unchecked and/or combined with life and dietary stressors, your training can quickly become a health liability. The harder you’re pushing your body, the more you need to look after yourself. Eliminate sugar from your diet, increase anti-inflammatory foods, and use the tools at your disposal. Most important among those is the newly available Hammer Hemp—the highest quality CBD oil available.
By faithfully following the steps we’ve outlined, you can alleviate the pain and inflammation that oftentimes occurs after workouts, while keeping harmful, health-negating chronic inflammation at bay.