Inflammation: What is it exactly?

Inflammation has a purpose within our bodies, it is part of the body’s immune system, and is used to help protect the body from any harmful intruders. When the body recognizes a potential threat- like if we have a wound or an infection, it will create specific chemical messengers known as cytokines that work to protect the body and destroy foreign invaders like viruses or bacteria. It’s basically our body’s chemical way of protecting itself.

Inflammatory chemicals are made to damage cells of invaders, but they can also damage our own cells if left unchecked. Having chronic inflammation in our bodies can disrupt our hormones and cause premature aging. Chronic inflammation can also damage our egg quality and intestinal health and can even cause depression and anxiety.

In PCOS, instead of inflammatory cytokines being created when there is a potential threat, there is a continuous level of low-grade inflammation in the body. This is mostly driven by insulin resistance and dysfunction in your fat cells.

What are signs of inflammation?

Common signs of inflammation include PCOS symptoms such as:

  • Swelling

  • Pain

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Bloating

  • Brain fog

  • Acne

  • Mood changes

What are the common causes of inflammation?

  • Diet

  • Stress

  • Food sensitivities

  • Environmental Factors

How can you reduce inflammation?

A diet that’s rich in antioxidants is key to managing inflammation in the body. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of decreasing (or eliminating) gluten, dairy, and sugar consumption.

Interestingly, a recent study showed that higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet resulted in lower CRP levels. This is inevitable since the Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and moderate amounts of animal protein.

We know that stress can also play a huge factor in the amount of inflammation in the body. Therefore, focusing all your energy and attention on reducing stress in your life is key to managing inflammation. This means exercising, making sure your sleep is in check, and mindfulness-based activities such as meditation and yoga.

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