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Inflammation

Staying Healthy for Life

The prevalence of inflammatory diseases has clearly increased over the past several decades. Part of this increase is related to the overall aging of the population. After all, inflammation is one consequence of age-related wear and tear on the body. Millions of people already suffer from a variety of inflammatory diseases.

Do you have any of the following?

What Is Chronic Inflammation?

Inflammation assumes many different forms, and everyone experiences it at one time or another. Perhaps the most common type of inflammation is sudden and acute, such as when you burn yourself in the kitchen, overuse muscles when moving furniture, or injure tendons when playing sports. The injured area swells, turns red, and becomes tender to touch. Under normal circumstances inflammation helps you heal, and it can even save your life. For example, if you accidentally cut your finger with a knife, bacteria from the knife, air, or surface of your skin immediately penetrate the breach. Unchecked, these bacteria would quickly spread through your bloodstream and kill you.

However, your body’s immune system almost immediately recognizes these bacteria as foreign and unleashes a coordinated attack to contain and stop the infection. Inflammation encourages tiny blood vessels in your finger to dilate, allowing a variety of white blood cells to leak out, track, and engulf bacteria. Some of these white blood cells also pick up and destroy cells damaged by the cut. In addition, inflammation signals the body to grow new cells to seal the cut. Within a day or two your cut finger becomes less inflamed, and a few days later it is completely healed.

Your body responds in similar fashion if you strain a muscle, such as by lifting too heavy a box, or by overexerting yourself during sports. The resulting inflammation, characterized by swelling, pain, and stiffness, is designed to remove damaged muscle cells and help initiate the healing process to replace those cells. Again, within a few days the inflammation decreases and you are well on the road to recovery.

Chronic inflammation, however, is very different. It does not go away, at least not quickly, and many people believe from their own experience that it will never go away. It results in persistent swelling, stiffness, or pain. Furthermore, you become more susceptible to inflammation as you age, but that, too, may be reversible.

Common Inflammation Triggers:

Age-related

Lifelong breakdown of tissues.

Accelerated aging from poor dietary and lifestyle decisions

Physical injuries

Repeated or severe athletic injuries

Broken bones, cuts, wounds, burns, temporomandibular disease. 

Infections

Frequent or chronic low-grade (e.g., colds and flus)

Chronic parasitic

Mental And Environment Stresses

Sleep disorder or INSOMNIA

Sunburn, sunlight (ultraviolet rays)

Tobacco, air pollution, lung irritants

Ionizing radiation

Cold air, exercise (asthma triggers)

Allergies and food sensitivities

Pollen, mold, and other inhalant allergies

Food sensitivities (may lead to ear infections), nightshades

Cerebral allergies (affecting behavior and cognition)

Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, lectin intolerance

Dietary imbalances and deficiencies

Obesity

Diabetes

Inadequate vitamin C (increases blood vessel leakage)

Inadequate B-complex vitamins

Inadequate dietary antioxidants

Imbalance in dietary fats

We can control the quality of nutrients we consume—the building materials of our bodies. We can consume foods that stimulate inflammation, which is unfortunately what the majority of people seem to be doing, or we can eat foods that naturally reduce inflammation.

The Inflammation Syndrome

Inflammatory disorders frequently follow a progression, beginning with mild symptoms that, if the underlying causes remain uncorrected, progress to more serious and difficult-to-treat diseases. For example, gastritis can lead to stomach ulcers and increase the risk of stomach cancer.

In addition, inflammatory disorders often occur in clusters, one disorder being linked to another, and often forming the Inflammation Syndrome.

These clusters point to similar underlying causes, though the common causes may be overlooked. For example, periodontitis increases the risk of heart disease, making some physicians believe that both diseases have a common infectious cause. Rather, people with the two conditions more likely.

Similarly, athletic injuries can set the stage for osteoarthritis and chronic musculoskeletal pain. Although symptoms may seem to be mild or transitory during the early stages of an inflammatory disease, it is easier to heal them at this time. In contrast, it is more difficult to reverse established diseases because of the extent of tissue damage share a common inflammatory pattern resulting from a pro-inflammatory diet and inadequate intake of vitamins E and C. As another example, people with asthma frequently suffer from depression. The depression does not result from the unfortunate diagnosis of asthma but, instead, may be symptomatic of the same fatty acid imbalance affecting body and mind.

Joint Pain

"Common cooking oils, such as corn, safflower, and soy oils, can make arthritis and asthma worse.”

Control

"Fries and other deep-fried foods, breakfast bars, and cookies can interfere with your body’s innate ability to control inflammation.”

Asthma

"Not eating your vegetables or taking your vitamins can increase breathing problems in people with asthma.”

Chain

"If you have one inflammatory disease, you are likely to develop others in the coming years, because the inflammation will eventually spread and affect other parts of your body.”

The Connection

You might wonder why, if most people are eating essentially the same pro-inflammatory diet, one person develops a particular set of symptoms, such as rheumatoid arthritis, whereas another suffers asthmatic attacks, and yet another person has heart disease. The diseases to which you are susceptible reflect your individual biological weaknesses, which are the result of your genetics, overall lifestyle, stresses, age, and diet. To understand this, it helps to see your genes and biochemistry as a series of chainlike links. Everyone has their own set of weak links (as well as strong links), and the number of weak links increases with age, poor diet, stress, and other insults. Your major weak links may be your heart, your joints, or your stomach or some other tissue.

Good nutrition reinforces these links and may be more important to health than genetics; this has been borne out by recent research.

Staying Healthy for Life

The increase in inflammation has accelerated as a consequence of eating a poor or unbalanced diet, a situation others have described as malnutrition on a full stomach.

REFERENCE:

“The Inflammation Syndrome. The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies, and Asthma.”

Copyright © 2003 by Jack Challem