Inflammation And Its Relation To Disease

Inflammation and Its Relation to Disease

By Theresa Harding

Did you know that many diseases start with inflammation?

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What is 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

One of the most common causes of pain is chronic inflammation. Inflammation can be described as a condition whereby our tissues become irritated due to injury or infection.  The symptoms of inflammation include pain, swelling, red discoloration, heat, stiffness, and/or limited range of motion. 

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.

Chronic inflammation has also been thought to be a contributing factor to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of heart disease.

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”.

Signs and Symptoms of Inflammation

Signs and Symptoms of Inflammation

Signs and Symptoms of Inflammation

Symptoms of inflammation vary depending on whether the reaction is acute or chronic.  Acute inflammation is usually seen as the first line of defense against injury and is characterized by changes in the microcirculation.   Its usually a short duration, occurring before the body’s immune response becomes noticeable, and it is aimed primarily at removing the injurious agent.

The symptoms of acute inflammation include:

Acute inflammation usually appears following an injury in minutes or hours.  It’s an early response of a tissue to injury.

  • 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

Inflammation has long been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease.  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

Foods that Cause Inflammation

One of the first things you can do to reduce chronic inflammation is to consider removing foods from your diet that are thought to cause inflammation.  The most inflammatory foods are the foods with the highest risk of sensitivity and allergy. The most common food allergies and pro-inflammatory foods are mentioned below.

  • Milk and all dairy products– Dairy products produce inflammation and mucus in the body.   This includes yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.
  •  Casein– is a protein found in dairy products and can be pro-inflammatory in many people.
  • Wheat and all Wheat Products– (pasta, bread, cookies, cake, etc.) can be very inflammatory in many people.
  • Eggs- which can also be found in cakes, sauces, protein powders and many baked goods.
  • Meat– that is not organic but advertised as corn-fed or vegetarian-fed.
  • All Overly Processed Foods– that contain corn syrup and sugar, like candy bars and soda pops, and processed and cured meats, like hot dogs and sausages.
  • Nightshade Vegetables– which include potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants.  These foods contain a substance called solanine, which has been found to cause pain and inflammation in some people.  Some people are also sensitive to citrus fruits like oranges, as well as some tropical fruits like papayas, mangos, and pineapples.

How to Reduce Inflammation

How To Reduce Inflammation

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.

Foods that Reduce Inflammation

Studies demonstrate that some foods can fight inflammation.   I never understood that some foods could cause inflammation.  When I learned that some foods could reduce inflammation, I immediately tried harder to change my diet.  The knee pains I used to experience made life a challenge.  I researched to learn what foods I needed to add to my diet to reduce inflammation.  Here are some foods that can lower your body inflammation.

Leafy Green Vegetables– These greens Leafy greens are packed with antioxidants that have a positive effect on your health. They also contain an many vitamins and powerful anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

TurmericTurmeric is a spice that comes from the root of the turmeric plant.  Curcumin, a substance in turmeric, helps reduce inflammation in the body and can help conditions like arthritis, joint pain, heartburn, etc.  Turmeric can also be taken as a supplement.

Ginger Root– Ginger is a dried or fresh root of the ginger plant.  It suppresses leukotrienes (inflammatory molecules) and switches off certain inflammatory genes, potentially making it more effective than conventional pain relievers.

In a 2012 in vitro study, a specialized ginger extract called Eurovita Extract 77 reduced inflammatory reactions in RA synovial cells as effectively as steroids.

Blueberries– Blueberries are full of antioxidants.  One study found that blueberries have the most anti-oxidants when compared to blackberries and strawberries.  Blueberries also had more types of antioxidants, by providing a wide range of anti-inflammatory protection each time you eat a handful.

Pineapples– Pineapples are another natural anti-inflammatory.  Research shows that pineapples are full of bromelain,  a digestive enzyme that helps regulate your body’s immune response.  It prevents the immune response from reacting with unnecessary inflammation.

Flax Seeds and Chia SeedsFlax seeds and chia seeds are full of protein and fiber.  The ALA and the other omega-3 fatty acids block the conversion of linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid, to arachidonic acid.  They also inhibit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids derived from arachidonic acid.

Wild Caught Salmon– Fatty fish are a great source of protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.  EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.

Have you experienced any form of inflammation?  What natural remedies do you use to reduce the pain?


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About the Author Terry

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 14 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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