Reducing our Common Enemy: Inflammation

An Underlying Cause

Inflammation is the root cause of many chronic conditions. A few of these conditions include chronic pain, heart disease, IBD, and arthritis. These diseases being among the most common, there are certainly many more chronic conditions caused by inflammation. In fact, almost any condition can be traced back to inflammation.

What is inflammation

At its core, inflammation has an important role in protecting the body.  Inflammation serves as a natural response during injury or infection. Through the process of inflammation, the body’s white blood cells protect us from viruses and bacteria. However, in many diseases, the body will recognize healthy tissue as unhealthy and will begin to attack itself through inflammation.  These situations are what is known as an autoimmune disease.  In these situations, the body attacks its otherwise healthy tissue by creating inflammation.  If inflammation is occurring in the gut, then proteins can even leak out into the bloodstream and be attacked when wrongly identified.

How to Reduce Inflammation

  1. Persistent or severe stress will increase cortisol levels, which will increase inflammation.  During periods of extreme stress, it is likely that “flare ups” of inflammation will occur.  Learn to recognize triggers that cause stress in your life and identify healthy ways that you like to use to cope with stress. Perhaps jogging or talking through a problem help you reduce your stress; find what works for you. 
  2. Eat a healthy diet that avoids any “trigger” foods for you.  There is no absolute diet that is recommended for inflammation, but common food irritants include dairy and gluten—if these aggravate your symptoms, avoid them. It is recommended to include many fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet; these contain many phytochemicals that have disease fighting effects.  Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are generally not consumed enough and can be beneficial to include.  Ginger, green leafy vegetables, healthy oils (such as olive), and nuts, have demonstrated helpful benefits that lower inflammation. These recommendations are closely related to what is known as the Mediterranean Diet.
  3. Medication is often helpful and will reduce many of the complications and complaints associated with inflammation. Corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, xenobiotics, immunosuppressants, and ibuprofen are all common medications used. If using medications, make note that these will not solve the problem but only lesson the symptoms.  Like all health conditions, it is best to get to the root of the problem and find out how to not only cover up the inflammation but how to reduce or ideally eliminate it.

In summary, reducing inflammation will reduce many diseases. Inflammation for a short duration, such as that relating to injuries, is a natural and helpful response of the body.Ongoing inflammation, however, is bad and contributes to disease. While you may not be able to completely eliminate all inflammation, you can certainly reduce it. Learn to balance your life and reduce stress, eat a healthy diet that works well for you, and get at the root of the problem rather than just masking the symptoms with medication.

Sources

How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health
What is Inflammation?
Foods That Fight Inflammation