From a health perspective, we should be paying attention to the level of inflammation that we have in our bodies due to its connection to worse COVID-19 outcomes. Without a treatment or vaccine, and a continual rise in COVID-19 cases, we should all be looking into what we can do to bolster our own immune response.
Inflammation can be measured by certain blood tests like C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. But, many of us have a sense that we have inflammation without getting a blood test. We know we are carrying extra weight, are not taking great care of ourselves, or may have chronic health conditions. While inflammation levels can relate to a multitude of underlying health issues, many of them can be prevented, improved or cured by making lifestyle changes.
Inflammation is due to the body’s reaction to injury, irritation, or infection. It is a healthy reaction when dealing with something in the short term. However, in the long term, it can have detrimental effects that include damage to cells and association with chronic disease.
Lifestyle recommendations for decreasing inflammation include:
Eating more fruits, vegetables and certain spices
Eating less processed foods
Eating less red meat and processed meat
Eating less added sugar
Eating less refined carbs and fried foods
150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, 75 min of vigorous exercise or a mix thereof, plus at least 2 days of muscle strengthening a week
Getting enough sleep can help to combat inflammation and chronic disease.
Studies have shown that there is a link between our stress levels and our levels of inflammation. Managing stress through meditation, guided imagery, etc. is beneficial for your body as well as your mind.
In addition to our bodies, there is widespread inflammation in our society right now. The murder of George Floyd in such an awful and dramatic way has opened many eyes to the systemic bias in our country that has been around since the birth of our nation.
On top of the police brutality issues, the Black Community has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Several reasons for this have been put forth, including access to health care, access to health insurance, discrimination, holding essential jobs, and stress.
While we need to do something about the inflammation in our bodies, we also need to realize that we need to do something about the inflammation in our society. The unnecessary deaths of Black people like George Floyd and the resulting protests are a sign that something is inflamed and very wrong with our society and how we treat each other.
We are being slapped in the face by the pandemic and the cultural climate. It is time to see the slap as an opportunity to wake up and realize that as individuals we have tremendous power in how we take care of our own health and how we take care of each other. We can and should do better for our health and the Black community.
Wishing you and your family safety, security, and great health.