Believe it or not, inflammation is your body’s way to self-protect and get rid of any harmful substances, dead cells or pathogens. While some of us don’t understand the term, we all have experienced it in several forms such as pain, a rise in temperature on the affected area, and swelling, known as acute inflammation.

However, long-term inflammation that continues for several months is known as chronic inflammation and calls for special attention. Hidden, unchecked chronic inflammation often leads to several diseases such as heart conditions, some cancers, arthritis, faster aging and weight gain.

But before you put the blame on stress, work pressure and other factors, have you ever thought that you could be a reason for it? If experts are to be believed, our daily activities, from our choice of foods to how much we exercise, play a key role in triggering inflammation in the body. Here are seven lifestyle habits that could be the cause of your misery.

1. Eating Processed Foods
Processed foods are high in unhealthy fats that trigger adipose or fat tissue inflammation (which affects only one part of the body), a precursor for several heart ailments as well as arthritis. While the easy availability of such foods complemented by their addictive taste makes you yearn for them, they can also trigger systemic inflammation (a condition such as influenza and flu affecting the entire body).

2. Drinking Too Much Soda
Soda pops, especially diet ones, are high in artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, a neurotoxin that could affect the brain and lead to unexplained weight gain, type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory conditions. Here are five reasons to give soda up.

3. Not Drinking Enough Water
When you don’t get enough water, your cellular functions decline, the delivery of nutrients gets hampered, metabolism slows down and blood composition changes. An insufficient amount of water in the body can be a prime reason for inflammation and could cause extreme fatigue, brain fog, cravings and headaches.

4. Loading Up On Sugar
Sugar and high fructose corn syrup cause inflammation in the body by releasing cytokines, which can have serious consequences such as heart disease, premature aging, obesity, diabetes and cancer.

5. Choosing Wrong Grains
Refined grains such as wheat, rice and other cereals have high glycemic index, which fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation. Opt for whole grains such as whole oats, brown rice or quinoa, instead.

6. Using Wrong Cooking Oils
While our body needs a healthy amount of omega-6 fatty acids for optimal growth and development, excess consumption can trigger production of pro-inflammatory chemicals. Cooking oils such as vegetable, corn, soy, sunflower and peanut are high in omega-6 fats. Swap these with healthy cooking oils such as olive oil, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil or red palm fruit oil.

7. Not Exercising
Exercise promotes healthy cellular function and prevents inflammation. Simple cardio activities like walking, cycling or even gardening can protect the body from unnecessary inflammation.

While any of these factors can be behind your aches and pains, remember you can always beat inflammation naturally by incorporating healthy changes in your diet, exercising regularly and reducing your stress levels.

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