Inflammation is a process that occurs naturally in the body when white blood cells and chemicals work to protect you from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. This natural form of inflammation is beneficial to the body as we do need some degree of inflammation to stay healthy, however, inflammation is also the route to all disease. It is a big red flag that needs to be addressed and understood before it leads to more serious conditions.
Inflammation: What You Need To Know
If your immune system begins to trigger inflammatory responses when no threat is present, then this can lead to excess inflammation in your body. Excess inflammation is linked to asthma, allergies, autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer and other diseases, ultimately depending on which areas or organs the inflammation is affecting.
- Inflammation in your heart causes shortness of breath or fluid retention
- Inflammation in the tubes that transport air to your lungs can cause an asthma attack
- Inflammation of the kidneys can cause high blood pressure or kidney failure
- Inflammation of your large intestine can cause cramps and diarrhea
Inflammation controls our lives. Obesity, pain, ADHD, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues, dental issues and cancer are all forms of inflammation.
In order to get to the root cause you must first look at the gut and diet but before that:
Differences Between Chronic and Acute Inflammation
When you have an injury or infection, it is the role of inflammation to protect and heal your body. This is “acute” inflammation which typically runs a short course and has the following symptoms:
- Loss of function or movement
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When inflammation becomes chronic, this means that the body no longer has the ability to turn off the inflammatory response and tissues in the body begin to get damaged, it’s known as the “silent killer.”
Chronic inflammation can go on for years without you even noticing. It is not until something like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis develop that we notice it. And even then, most people still do not see the link between inflammation and these conditions.
How do you get Chronic Inflammation?
A malfunctioning and over-reactive immune system can be the cause of chronic inflammation. Underlying issues typically begin in the diet, as many of these “problems” are actually due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Eating oxidized or rancid fats and sugar will increase inflammation in your body while consuming animal based omega-3 fats or the essential fatty acid GLA helps to reduce them. Other inflammation triggers are GMO, cow (A1) dairy, grains, nightshade vegetables and gluten.
All of the following can increase your risk of chronic inflammation:
- Being obese or overweight
- Eating a poor diet
- An existing heart condition
- A family history of heart disease
- Diabetes that is poorly controlled
- A sedentary lifestyle (little or no exercise)
- Long-term infections
- Gum disease
Where does Inflammation begin?
Your gut is made up of a semi-permeable lining that is only one cell thick and is similar to tissue paper, yet the surface area of your gut can cover two tennis courts when stretched out flat.
Your gut’s permeability can fluctuate in response to a variety of conditions. When the gut is more permeable, “leaky gut” arises, which is when food and toxins can travel in and out of the digestive tract.
You should know that all of your feelings create physiological changes and stress is no exception. Stress can cause digestion to shut down and it affects everything from the amount of blood flow to the digestive tract, how your digestive muscles contract, and how many enzymes are secreted for digestion.
Stress can cause inflammation of the digestive system and make you more susceptible to infection. If you are stressed and then sit down to eat, partially undigested food, toxins, viruses, yeast and bacteria have access to your bloodstream from your permeable gut lining.
When the intestinal lining is repeatedly damaged, the microvilli in your small intestine, which absorb a lot of nutrients and enzymes, are unable to do their job properly. When foreign objects enter the blood stream, the body creates a response through inflammation, allergic reactions and other unfavourable symptoms
Looking at the Source of Inflammation
Lifestyle changes will go a long way in reducing inflammation, so focus on making the following changes:
- Eat WHOLE Foods: A nutritious diet includes foods that are as close to their ground state as possible. Avoid things with ingredient lists and focus on including, whole, fresh and organic foods into every meal.
- Cut Out the Inflammation Promoters: These are trans fats, GMO, fried foods, conventional dairy, sugar and foods cooked at high temperatures and oxidized cholesterol (over-cooked eggs). Many also benefit from eliminating grains, legumes, cow (A1) dairy and nightshade vegetables.
- Get Animal Based Omega-3: High quality krill oil, fermented cod liver oil and regular consumption of wild salmon are the best sources of animal-based omega-3 fats. Plant-based versions include hemp, flax and walnuts.
- Optimize Your Insulin Levels: Look into testing your fasting insulin level with your health care provider. If your fasting insulin level is not lower than 3, consider limiting or eliminating grains and sugars until your level is below 3.
- Exercise regularly: This is a great way to lower inflammation without causing any side effects often associated with medications. Consider “Heart Rate Training” or “5-Zone Interval Training” with Orangtheory Fitness, this is a science-based exercise that focuses on getting your max heart rate in the “Orange Zone,” which is 84-91% of your max heart rate for a total of 12-20 minutes. This activates EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) or the “afterburn” where you can burn calories at an accelerated rate for 2-3 hours after your workout. It’s the new way to workout and ensures quick and noticeable results.
- Make sure your waist size is normal: If you’re a women with a waist measurement over 35 inches, or a man with a waist over 40 inches, you are in the red flag zone for inflammation and should follow the steps to lose weight which can be done through diet and exercise.
- Have healthy outlets for stress and negative emotions: High levels of stress hormones can release excess inflammatory chemicals, in order to resolve stress and past or current emotional challenges, add some more exercise, yoga and meditation to your routine.
- Optimize your Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D deficiency can play a huge role in your health. This hormone is best obtained from sunshine and is a potent anti-inflammatory. In the summer time, aim to get 30 unprotected minutes a day, and in the winter it is best to supplement with a high quality D3 supplement at 6,000 IU daily .
- Quit smoking! Smoking hardens your arteries and increases inflammation. Research shows that you can reduce all the damaging effects of your arteries within 10 years of quitting. Ensure you also have your diet sorted out first to avoid trading cigarettes for junk foods.
Foods that Fight Inflammation
Do you include enough inflammation-fighting foods? In addition to following the lifestyle recommendations above, there are some specific foods which can be included to combat inflammation and prevent it from having a negative effect on your health:
- Omega-3 Fats: Animal based fats wild Alaskan salmon, ghee, butter oil, hemp, walnuts, fatty fish and flax help your body to fight inflammation.
- Leafy greens: Kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens contain powerful antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C, which all help protect against cellular damage. Cold-pressed juicing is an excellent way to get more greens into your diet.
- Blueberries: These little berries rate very high for antioxidant capacity. They also are lower in sugar than many other fruits.
- Match Green Tea: This powdered green tea is the most nutrient-dense form of green tea available. It contains 17x the antioxidants than while blueberries and 7x the amount of dark chocolate.
- Fermented Vegetables: Increasing your healthy gut flora is important for a well-functioning immune system and helps ward off chronic inflammation. In fact, the majority of inflammatory diseases start in your gut. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, miso, tempeh, pickles, kimchi and olives will help re-populate good bacteria.
- Shiitake Mushrooms: These mushrooms contain potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties due to presence of bioactive compounds such as ergothioneine .
- Garlic: With both antioxidant and medicinal properties, garlic contains a naturally occurring sulphur compound called allicin which reacts faster to any dangerous free radicals at a more effective rate than any other known compound. 
Herbs and Supplements to Fight Inflammation
Though there are many natural supplements which also fight inflammation and prevent disease, food sources should be your number one resource as you will never be able to out-supplement a poor diet. Check out my turmeric latte elixir as a delicious anti-inflammatory drink that you can include into your daily routine and also look into the following:
- Boswellia: Also known as “Indian Frankincense,” this herb has active anti-inflammatory compounds referred to as boswellic acids that can reduce inflammation. This herb is ideal for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Bromelain: This is the enzyme found in pineapple! This is a natural anti-inflammatory that you can take in a supplement form or by eating more fresh organic pineapple.
- Turmeric, Holy Basil and Rosemary: These herbs are an inducer of a protein that induces inflammation.
- Ginger: This is another anti-inflammatory and also offers pain relief with bonus stomach settling properties. Steep fresh ginger in boiling water to make a tea or grate and add as a garnish to meals. Fresh root is best.
- Resveratrol: A potent antioxidant that is known as the modern day fountain of youth. This antioxidant can prevent you from creating molecules that trigger inflammation.
- Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain natural GLA, which is useful for arthritic pain. If you struggle with dry skin, this is a strong indicator that you are deficient in GLA.
This article was republished with permission from holisticole.com.
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