When I say “Inflammation,” thoughts of painful joints, muscles, swelling and loss of mobility probably comes to mind. But did you know that recent research shows that chronic inflammation in your body can lead to serious disease such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer's disease, to name just a few?

The amount of inflammation in our body varies and is dependent on may circumstances like activity level, amount of sleep or stress in our lives and even the foods we eat. Now what you have to realize is that these factors are all accumulative and as the levels increase, the risk for disease increases.

Now, early in life these levels can be so low that you would not even know that you have any inflammation in your body and that is because our bodies do a fair job at controlling the inflammation at least for a while. Then, one day you wake up and you are in your 40s and something is just not right. The fear sets in and you think to yourself what did I do, what did I do wrong or what can I do right now to help myself.

The first step is to get your C-Reactive Protein levels tested. You will need to ask your doctor for the test and may even have to demand to have the test done. All it takes is a blood sample and the doctor or registered dietician will evaluate the test to help you formulate a care plan because our diets can play a large part in achieving optimal health.

If you have pain from inflammation you may choose to take the traditional “medical” path for inflammation such as, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), steroids and even joint replacement surgery in severe cases. The good news is that there are more natural ways to fight inflammation, and they do not have the undesirable side effects caused by many typical medical treatments.

What You Eat Makes All The Difference

The food we eat is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling inflammation. The average American diet consists of high fat, high sugar, loads of red meat and a frightening amount of processed foods. These are all likely to increase inflammation, not to mention contributing to obesity, yet another high-inflammatory culprit. By switching to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet plan made up of healthy, whole foods, you can actually decrease inflammation and in turn ease the pain and discomfort associated with it.

The first step is to avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar and junk food whenever possible. Instead choose fresh, whole foods including anti-inflammatory varieties like lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. But choose carefully, in fact even some vegetables and pre-packaged “health” foods can work against you. Use this quick list of the best and worst foods in controlling inflammation:

Anti-inflammatory foods
Atlantic Salmon- (wild)
Fresh whole fruits, vegetables
Bright multi-colored vegetables
Green tea
Olive oil
Lean poultry
Nuts, legumes and seeds
Dark green leafy vegetables
Old fashioned oatmeal
Spices, especially Turmeric and Ginger Pro-inflammatory foods
Sugar, from any source
Processed foods
French Fries
Fast Foods
White bread
Ice Cream
Cheddar Cheeses
Snack Foods
Oils such as vegetable and corn
Soda, caffeine and alcohol

In addition to these dietary changes it is also recommended that you:

- Maintain a healthy weight - There is no question that “eating healthy” is not easy now days, either at home or at a restaurant. But you must at least start to do these three things. Decrease your sugars, Decrease your hydrogenated oils and increase your daily intake of fiber to 35 grams. That is a ton of fiber but just try, you may hit it, you may not. The point is to try.

- Get better sleep – 7 to 9 hours is mandatory for optimal health and the one thing that most people do not know it that quality sleep is the key to controlling systemic inflammation.

- Relax more often to lower stress levels – Find time for yourself, morning, noon and night and focus on your breathing. Clear the clutter in your mind, learn to stay focused on the most important tasks in your life.

- Exercise on a regular basis – Everyone always asks me what it is the best exercise to do and all I can say is do something you like to do. If you can tolerate it, shoot for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a week.

- Demand to have you CRP levels tested – This simple blood test is the best indicator of the level of systemic inflammation in your body. It is recommended that you have the levels evaluated by a certified health care provider to take the most appropriate action for you and your condition.

Author's Bio: 

About the author: Fitness expert and best-selling author, Jesse Cannone, CFT, is the co-owner of www.losethebackpain.com.