INFLAMMATION AND DISEASE

 

By Theresa Harding

Did you know that many diseases start with inflammation?

Inflammation is a vital part of the body’s immune response. It is the body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria; and repair damaged tissue.

This kind of inflammation is good, but the modern epidemic of chronic, low-grade inflammation destroys the balance in your body. When your body’s systems experience a constant inflammatory response, you become more susceptible to aging and disease.

Types of Inflammation

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic (sometimes called systemic) inflammation. Acute inflammation arises after a cut or scrape in the skin, an infected ingrown nail, a sprained ankle, acute bronchitis, a sore throat, tonsillitis or appendicitis. It is short-term and the effects subside after a few days.

Chronic inflammation is long-term and occurs in “wear and tear” conditions, including osteoarthritis, and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease. Habitual or environmental factors, such as excess weight, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, pollution, poor oral health and excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to chronic inflammation.  Adopting a low inflammatory diet while focusing on low inflammatory foods is one way to avoid the onset of chronic inflammation.

Often, acute inflammation is perceived as “good,” because it is the body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury, and chronic inflammation is perceived as “bad”.

Symptoms of inflammation

Symptoms of inflammation vary depending on whether the reaction is acute or chronic.

The symptoms of acute inflammation include:

  • Pain: The inflamed area is likely to be painful, especially during and after touching. Chemicals that stimulate nerve endings are released, making the area more sensitive.
  • Redness: This occurs because the capillaries in the area are filled with more blood than usual.
  • Immobility: There may be some loss of function in the region of the inflammation.
  • Swelling: This is caused by a buildup of fluid.
  • Heat: More blood flows to the affected area, and this makes it feel warm to the touch.

Symptoms of chronic inflammation present in a different way. These can include:

  • Fatigue
  • mouth sores
  • chest pain
  • abdominal pain
  • fever
  • rash
  • joint pain

Causes of Inflammation

Inflammation is caused by a number of physical reactions triggered by the immune system in response to a physical injury or an infection.

One of the main causes of inflammation is low-grade bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in the bloodstream and organs like the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.

Other causes of inflammation include:

  • Chronic low-grade food allergies or food sensitivities that may cause few symptoms.
  • An imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your gastrointestinal tract, also known as dysbiosis. This causes your immune system to overreact to bacteria in your gut and can be without notable symptoms.
  • Stress. Constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises the level of cortisol, creating inflammation.
  • Environmental toxicity from our air, water, food pollutants and toxic metals like mercury and lead all contribute to inflammation and have been linked to diseases as varied as endometriosis and cancer.
  • Diet and lifestyle: too much fat, sugar, and protein in your diet, constant dehydration, consumption of too many sodas or caffeine, inactivity, and lack of sleep can all increase inflammation in your body.  It is important to include low inflammatory foods in your diet consistently to inflammation from taking root in your body.   This means eating low inflammatory foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats like coconut oil and taking Omega3 fatty acids.

Diseases Associated with Inflammation

Although inflammation has long been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease, still Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and Parkinson’s disease may all be related to chronic inflammation in the body.

Examples of diseases, conditions, and situations that can result in acute inflammation include:

  • acute bronchitis
  • infected ingrown toenail
  • a sore throat from a cold or flu
  • a scratch or cut on the skin
  • high-intensity exercise
  • acute appendicitis
  • dermatitis
  • tonsillitis
  • infective meningitis
  • sinusitis
  • a physical trauma

Examples of diseases and conditions that include chronic inflammation:

  • asthma
  • chronic peptic ulcer
  • tuberculosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • periodontitis
  • ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • sinusitis
  • active hepatitis

How to Reduce Inflammation

  1. Eliminate all sources of inflammation from your diet. This includes rancid oils, sugars, conventional meats, pasteurized dairy, trans fats and sugars.
  2. Begin incorporating one new anti-inflammatory food to your diet each day. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  3. Focus on a low inflammatory diet with low inflammatory foods since they won’t contribute to your body aches and pains.
  4. If needed, supplement a healthy diet with 1 Tbsp. of cod liver oil.
  5. Consider taking supplements for inflammation if you feel like diet alone isn’t giving you added relief from body aches and pains. Speak with your doctor first before changing your diet or trying any new supplements.

Have you experienced any form of inflammation?  What have you tried to reduce the pain?

References

http://vetsci.co.uk/2009/12/04/types-of-inflammation/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflammation

https://www.livescience.com/52344-inflammation.html

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About the Author Theresa Harding

Healthy Living isn't difficult. It requires an ongoing lifestyle change with patience and an open mind. I teach this mindset all the time. After 11 years of transitioning from an unhealthy lifestyle to a pain-free one, I think it's important to share my knowledge and research with those who are ready to make that shift in their health and wellness.

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