Inflammation is one of those words that can sound scary but be hard to pinpoint. So many good things in life, from delicious desserts to long Netflix marathons, are said to not be great in terms of inflammation, but if you're looking for some better news, you might be excited to learn about some signs that your body is
free of inflammation. Experts say that anything from healthy gums to glowing skin can mean you don't need to worry about whether you are experiencing inflammation or not.
On some levels, inflammation isn't actually something to worry about, naturopathic doctor
Kathi Head, ND tells Bustle. "Inflammation in your body is a normal reaction of your immune system to an imbalance, which can be caused by an injury, an invading organism, allergen, etc.," she says. "It’s all a matter of balance. You are never absolutely 'free' of inflammation. But when the inflammatory process gets out of control, you start to have symptoms."
While these signs can all help point to a body that's not
dealing with inflammation, inflammation levels can also be measured through a blood test, Dr. Head says, so if you're truly concerned, be sure to schedule a meeting with your doctor.
"One sign that you are 'inflammation free' is strong, healthy hair,"
Dr. Daniel A. Danyo, a hair restoration surgeon and founder of North Atlanta Hair Restoration, tells Bustle. "Dietary problems can increase inflammation of the gut and scalp, resulting in poor nutrient usage and damaged follicles," he says. But when you aren't battling inflammation, your body is more effective about processing and using the vitamins and minerals you're ingesting through your food. Brightly-colored fruits and vegetables like cherries, berries, and green leafy vegetables are all strong sources of anti-inflammatory properties, Dr. Danyo says.
Your skin health can also be an effective way to determine whether your body is inflamed. A skin rash or dry and flaky skin are both noticeable signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to inflammation, Dr. Danyo says. So if you've been noticing that your face has been really moisturized and glowy, you could be in the clear when it comes to inflammation.
Lisa Richards, a certified nutritionist, tells Bustle that inflammation in the gut can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and IBS. "When that inflammation disappears, you should find that most of your digestive symptoms vanish too," she says, so if everything has been moving very smoothly, you're probably in good shape in the inflammation department. For some extra help, incorporate olive oil into your diet on a regular basis, as studies have shown that taking olive oil daily can significantly reduce inflammatory markers, says Richards.
There are different levels of inflammation,
Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, a doctor of chiropractic and certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells Bustle, and low levels of inflammation can be dangerous because they are easy to miss. Don't wait for a body part to get extremely swollen and painful before getting yourself checked for inflammation, he says. If your body isn't inflamed, you probably won't notice signs of low-level acute inflammation such as redness, swelling, pain, immobility, or heat or warmth at the effected area.
If you've ever skipped flossing a little too often before a dental cleaning, you probably leave the appointment with red, tender gums. But your gum health can actually point to much more than just your daily flossing habits. If you start to experience pain, redness, and swelling of your gums, you might be dealing with external inflammation, Dr. Head says. But when everything in your mouth is pink and pain-free, you don't need to worry about gum inflammation.
"Stress can increase inflammation in your body," Dr. Head says, so if you've been feeling especially zen lately, chances are you aren't experiencing a lot of inflammation. A consistent yoga or pilates practice can enhance this low stress and low inflammation effect even more, she says, so pat yourself on the back for taking care of your body by taking care of your mind.
"One of the major signs of inflammation is swelling in the body," Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and health and wellness expert for
Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "This means that if your body is free from swelling, both internal and external, your body is free of inflammation." Fluid accumulating in tissues or pressure points in your body can cause this kind of swelling, he says. Blueberries are a great anti-inflammatory support because they're rich in anthocyanins, making them a powerful antioxidant. This can protect your body from oxidative stress which, in turn, reduces inflammation," Backe says.
Take a moment to appreciate the fact that you aren't feeling as stressed as usual or that your digestive system is running smoothly. Your body is certainly thanking you for its low inflammation levels.