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Inflammation: Friend or Foe?

March 30, 2016 4 min read

There are times when the body has to deal with foreign invaders, like bacteria and viruses, through a biological process known as inflammation.  This response is both normal and beneficial.  Your body depends on a certain level of inflammation in order to maintain health.  While performing this healing endeavor, there is a physiological cascade of events that happens in a relatively controlled and well-orchestrated fashion.

Unfortunately, in our North American culture, it has become exceedingly common for this well-regulated process to spiral out of control.  There is a general consensus among both conventional, and alternative, medical circles that every single one of our chronic diseases can be traced back to excess systemic inflammation. For example, conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, allergies, diabetes, and cancer all have inflammation at their origin.

Acute Inflammation: Our Friend

If you have suffered an injury, or infection, you have experienced the acute inflammatory response mechanism.  In this process, there are a series of biochemical reactions that occur to help the body ward off foreign invaders.  During this time, there are numerous chemical mediators, as well as white blood cells, that are sent to the affected areas.  As a result, you will usually experience all, or many, of the following symptoms: redness, pain, swelling, heat, and loss of function/movement.

Chronic Inflammation: Our Foe

Chronic inflammation is often the result of an over-reactive immune response or an underlying problem that your body is working hard to fight off.  Typically, these situations are due to the accumulative effect of an unhealthy lifestyle.  Most times, the symptoms of chronic inflammation remain subclinical and, therefore, silent.  It’s not until the body’s tissues have become so damaged by this chronic inflammatory response that you are finally diagnosed with one of today’s hallmark medical conditions.

Lifestyle Factors that Increase Chronic Inflammation:

 

  •  Excess Body Weight
  •  Stress – This increases your body’s cortisol and catecholamine levels
  •  Lack of Exercise
  •  Chronic exposure to environmental toxins
  •  Poor Diet –Includes diets that are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, pesticides/herbicides/larvicides/insecticides/fungicides, trans-fats, oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid from overcooking), gluten, casein protein, and alcohol.

 

Lifestyle Factors that Decrease Chronic Inflammation:

  •  Regular Exercise
  •  Plenty of High-Quality Omega-3 – Krill Oil is one of the most convenient ways of  ensuring that you get high-quality omega 3’s into your diet.
  •  Diet Rich in Micronutrients – Micronutrients includes vitamins, minerals, and  phytonutrients. A diet high in these healing compounds has been proven to  neutralize the damaging effects of the chronic inflammatory response.  Such foods  include colorful fruits and vegetables, high-quality omega 3’s, herbs, and superfoods  such as chlorella, spirulina, marine phytoplankton, maca root, etc.
  •  Maintain Healthy Insulin Levels – Optimizing your insulin levels is key in warding off  chronic inflammation.
  •  Use Herbs and Supplements to assist in combatting the systemic effects of chronic i  inflammation - Research indicates that incorporating compounds such as boswellia,  ginger, tulsi, rosemary, resveratrol, turmeric, bromelain, and CoQ10 can greatly  reduce systemic inflammation.
  •  Optimize Vitamin D levels – Because every cell in your body has a receptor site for  Vitamin D, increasing your levels can have a dramatic effect on your health.
  •  Cultivate mindful practices to help mitigate stress – High levels of stress hormones  can lead to excessive inflammatory chemicals. Chronic exposure to these chemicals  leads to tissue breakdown and burnout.  Stress-management techniques such as  journaling, meditation, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and reconnecting with  nature can all be extremely effective in dealing with the physiological challenges  catalyzed by stress.  Finding a conduit for negative emotions is a very important  strategy for long-term health and happiness.
  •  Grounding – Synchronizing with nature can be an extremely beneficial practice  when trying to cope with the results of chronic inflammation. The transfer of  electrons from the earth into our bodies (when our bare feet touch the  electromagnetic field of the earth’s surface) assists in dampening the damaging  effects brought on by inflammation.

 

Nuclear factor-Kappa Beta: NfKB

One of the major inducers of inflammation is the transcription protein known as Nuclear factor-Kappa Beta (NfKB). NfKB modulation is an important target for cancer prevention and treatment.  NfKB can be successfully modulated by: 

  • Curcumin in turmeric
  • Ursolic acid in holy basil, tulsi, and rosemary
  • Stilbenes such as resveratrol in grape skins
  • Catechins in green tea.
  • Proathocyanidins in grape seeds

Final Thoughts

Inflammation is a complex physiological process employed by the body to assist in bringing health and vitality back to the affected structures.  Problems arise when the body loses its ability to “turn-off” this biochemical cascade resulting in chronic inflammation and the subsequent clinical state of disease.  Learning to attend to our cellular health is the key component in successfully overcoming the damaging effects of this process.  The use of high-quality nutraceuticals, a diet rich in micronutrients, appropriate amounts of sleep, stress-management techniques, exercise, and the consumption of clean water are the best ways to treat the root cause of all systemic inflammatory patterns.

 

 


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