There’s a stark difference between being swole and being swollen. For one, being swole is an understandably desirable state for some bros, as was explained to contributing writer Oliver Lee Bateman earlier this year. “‘Swole,’ meanwhile, seems like a classic erection reference, ‘jacked’ likewise — the body as an engorged penis,” Tobias Wilson-Bates, a lecturer in the writing and communication program at Georgia Tech told Bateman. Yes — some men want their bodies to appear like an engorged dick. Deal with it.
On the other hand, being swollen — also known as inflammation — is the immune system’s healing response to treating damaged cells, irritants and pathogens. “It can be beneficial when, for example, your knee sustains a blow and tissues need care and protection,” reports Medical News Today. “However, sometimes, inflammation can persist longer than necessary, causing more harm than benefit.”
The point is that, even when inflammation is beneficial, it still feels like shit, especially when it goes into overdrive. So here are some ways to help tame every type of unwanted swolleness.
Turmeric, which was first used thousands of years ago in Asia and especially in traditional Chinese medicine, has only recently begun its ascent in the Western hemisphere. By that I mean that turmeric is finally getting its recognition as the ultimate inflammation elixir.
“One thing is pretty clear, turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory,” Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of research, Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine told The Food Network. According to D’Adamo, it appears to help reduce chronic inflammation in the body along with having the potential to mitigate a range of conditions, from autoimmune diseases to arthritis and possibly even some types of cancer.
The bioactive anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric that gives the plant its healing properties is called curcumin, and as per Bulletproof blog, curcumin works by blocking the production of inflammatory cells and proteins. Additional spices that reduce inflammation, says Healthline, include, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and black pepper.
Never has being healthy been so delicious!
Yes, we know, lack of sleep is the cause of myriad evils, including, predictably, inflammation. Dr. Mark R. Zielinski claims that not only does lack of sleep cause inflammation, but inflammation can in turn cause lack of sleep. “Inflammation is often increased or unbalanced in individuals with sleep-related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome,” writes Zielinski at Thrive Global. “Individuals who have diseases that tend to increase inflammation such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and autoimmune disorders have an increased tendency for disturbed sleep.” Yeesh.
I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t exercise the cause of some inflammation? The answer is yes, if you’re overworking your body, but that’s not the case if your exercise routine is fairly moderate. “Each time we exercise, we are truly doing something good for our body on many levels, including at the immune cell level,” senior author Suzi Hong, PhD, in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine, told UC San Diego Health. “The anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise have been known to researchers, but finding out how that process happens is the key to safely maximizing those benefits.”
Hong found that one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a five percent decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF, a key regulator of local and systemic inflammation that also helps boost immune responses. “Knowing what sets regulatory mechanisms of inflammatory proteins in motion may contribute to developing new therapies for the overwhelming number of individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions, including nearly 25 million Americans who suffer from autoimmune diseases,” Hong added.
Green, Red, Blue and Purple Foods
More commonly referred to as leafy greens, berries, grapes and cabbage, these colorful foods are key to keeping your swollen body in check. Leafy greens and vegetables in particular — rich in magnesium — are essential to preventing your body from blowing up.
“I encourage anyone who’s susceptible to inflammation to assess their magnesium intake,” Forrest H. Nielsen, a research nutritionist at the USDA’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota, told Eating Well. “There’s a lot of evidence that people with high inflammatory markers often have low magnesium levels. Plus, people who have conditions associated with inflammation, like heart disease and diabetes, also tend to have low magnesium levels,” Nielsen says.
In other words, if you want to feel less like a swollen air mattress, taste the (less sweet and much more fibrous) rainbow.