I was once giving a talk on the importance of social connection at the University of Oxford. In it, I presented a study that showed that people who had more social connections were less susceptible to the common cold.
The study went like this: the researchers first surveyed the participants on the number of their social connections (friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, etc.). Then they made all participants take a sniff of rhinoviruses to artificially cause a common cold. The results were clear: those with a higher social network showed fewer symptoms of the common cold and therefore were also less contagious.
After the talk, a kind American astrophysicist asked me: "what is the mechanism by which this immune response worked?"
And I replied: "I don't know"
Another American colleague jokingly interjected: "I thought you'd say inflammation". She was referring to the popular culture use and misuse of the word.
While my friend here was joking, the claims made around inflammation are not to be ignored. The most ambitious one states that all of illness stems from inflammation; inflammation is the precursor to all illness. If this were true, then that means if we treat all inflammation, we treat all illness.
I'm not going to go into the medical science of inflammation. I'm not an expert, as is evident from my reply (or lack thereof) to my audience's question.
But I have used practically used inflammation reducing tools quite extensively to help me have more emotional intelligence, get triggered less, and feel centred. I want to share some of these tools with you.
(Sharing just what has worked for me. Not medical advice. Consult your doctor and all of that...)
- Cold exposure: I take 1 minute of a cold shower every day. I also have a mattress under my bed that cools my bed by circulating water in it. Cold has a magical effect of dropping inflammation immediately.
- Blueberries, strawberries, red grapes: These foods have a compound called anthocyanin that work to reduce inflammation and also improve brain health. I try to have a pack of grapes near me at all times - they are cheap, give you some quick clean energy, and drop inflammation.
- Medicinal Mushrooms: I have been drinking this decaf coffee+mushroom blend every morning that drops inflammation and also gives me a pleasant energy (as opposed to the jittered energy of caffeine).
- Nature or sub-optimally Grounding Mat: I'm always surprised about how much inflammation I drop every time I go out in nature. But sometimes it is cold, dark, or I'm just lazy. And in those times, I have a grounding mat at home. This mat is an electrically conductive surface that connects to the ground point in your wall socket. The idea is you are electrically connected to the earth. While the science is not overwhelmingly convincing, there area few papers that ascertain its legitimacy. From personal experience, I can tell it makes a noticeable difference.
- Omega 3s - You can take fish-oil, or eat walnuts. I prefer to take a supplement that contains algae oil.
These are some practical hacks that have helped me change my mental state almost instantly. When I notice that I am angry, or I am frustrated, or I am just not centred, chances are high that my inflammation levels are high. That typically happens after a bad meal (sugar!), a tough gym sesh, or a jiu jitsu class for me.
Having these tools with me has helped me keep my quality to life high, and also helped me have leeway to eat unhealthy, travel, and work out, and know that I will have tools to pull myself back up if needed.
Just today I wasn't quite feeling good but I had to travel to meet my relatives. I popped in a couple of pills of Heights, and viola, I felt so much better and healthier.
I made a detailed video on supplements. They help me ensure I regularly get these inflammation reducing compounds in my body.
I hope some of these tools will be useful to you. Knowing how to manage your internal state helps soften the slings and arrows of life. Managing inflammation goes a long way in accomplishing that.