Inflammation: Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions, Part 1
What Causes Inflammation?
This is the first of a three part series on inflammation. Be sure to click the orange icon in the bottom right corner to be sure you receive all 3 parts.
Inflammation refers to the process in which the white blood cells of the body stimulated through the immune system help protect us from foreign substances and infections such as viruses and bacteria. This is to say that when something irritating and harmful affects any part of the body, a biological response is triggered to try to remove it and heal the body. This process is known as inflammation. Our bodies get inflamed when our immune system jumps into action. In a critical situation for a short period of time it is actually good for us.
The signs of inflammation are common: pain, swelling, tumor, redness, heat, and lost or inhibited function. For example if you suffer an injury on your leg, your immune system triggers a response (inflammatory cascade) sending out white blood cells to take care of the damage – the spot on your leg swells, appears red and feels tender. This all indicates the immune system is working on the healing process. It should be noted that inflammation does not mean infection. Inflammation is the body’s response to an infection or an injury. There are many things that can cause and trigger this response.
It is important to remember that not every inflammation is healthy. Inflammation can be classified as either acute or chronic. When the inflammation is typically short-lived it is termed acute and when it is long-lasting and persistent, it is known as chronic. Chronic inflammation is unhealthy and wears down the body. The acute and chronic inflammation can occur for the same reason, but the acute response takes care of the problem quickly. When the presenting problem lasts longer than it should without healing on its own, the inflammatory response can lead to damage.
The body also reacts to outside invaders with inflammation to try and contain the damage. It will be chronic because the source of the irritant is chronic. This kind of inflammation is very dangerous and the underlying causes need to be eliminated. These are the causes that you must address before chronic inflammation leads to disease.
As a result of an emotional stress you may experience a rapid impulse (racing heart or throbbing arm), which is a sign of an inflammation prompted by cortisol (fight or flight hormone). Today this response is often referred to as a panic or anxiety attack. It could also be as a result of a physical stress which will trigger an immune response causing your skin to break out in hives or your intestinal tract to going off balance or your body shutting down literally.
When we eat a meal that is rich, it causes our digestive system to work extra hard in order to digest it efficiently. This is especially seen when we rely on processed, fat or sugary foods as the main staples of our diets. This inflammation results when the GI track is overworked or irritated by toxins and chemicals in the food.
According the medical community, insulin and glucose levels have been linked to inflammation. Excess weight and high insulin levels cause inflammation. These people are then prone to developing type 2 diabetes which again causes more inflammation. A vicious circle, called metabolic syndrome, can develop and is very hard to break.
There are specific food allergies that trigger inflammations. Gluten found in wheat and casein found in dairy are some of the worst. These foods will cause an inflammatory response in the digestive tract especially in sensitive individuals. Bloating after eating is a strong sign that allergy is causing inflammation.
Unbalanced hormones have also been linked to inflammation. Hormones like estrogen, testosterone and progesterone need to be in the correct proportion. When they are not, havoc ensues. This is the reason why chronic inflammation is often observed in women around menopause leading to weight gain and poor sleep.
Certain synthetic fibers found in plastics and adhesives can cause inflammatory response in many individuals. Whether you wear them, eat or drink out of them, or have them in your environment, they can trigger a reaction of your immune system and lead to either skin reactions or inflammation in the airways (asthma, rhinitis, and chronic lung problems). Plastic micro-beads in toothpaste cause gum irritation and swelling.
Products that contain synthetic chemicals are another source of inflammation especially if these chemicals are skin irritants or airborne. They can also exist in the water we drink. Many people avoid the laundry soap aisle in the store or refuse to set foot in a candle shop because of the synthetic scents.
Common Foods that can Cause Inflammation even if you are not allergic to them.
- Hydrogenated and Trans Fat: This are found in lards, margarine, baked goods, pies, cookie, buns etc.
- Meat: Meat and poultry can cause inflammation. Instead of making it the main dish, make them the side dish of your meals. This is not suggesting that you have to go completely vegan. However, if you choose grass fed organic meats that are not fed GMO feed, not vaccinated or fed antibiotics; you may tolerate meat without a reaction.
- Fast Foods: This includes the fried rice, hamburgers, chips, junk food, etc. These items should speak for themselves. They are devoid of any nutrition, filled with sugars, GMO corn, and chemical colors and flavors. Just don’t eat them, but if you do, expect to develop some inflammation.
- Iodized Salt: Refined salts need to be used very sparingly. It causes rapid inflammation. Unrefined salt, such a Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, naturally contain a range of different minerals that are good for you and will not cause inflammation.
- Dairy Products: There are a lot of reasons that diary product are considered inflammatory, one of which is that they are packed with antibiotics, hormones (in the US) and other toxic agents. Even organic milk is pasteurized so that the needed enzymes are killed and the milk is no longer digestible.
- Wheat Products: In recent times, wheat has been genetically modified causing it to be inflammatory in the body.
- Food Additives: This includes the flavors, colors, preservatives, stabilizers and the rest. It is unfortunate that so many of these toxic ingredients are used in our foods today.
An Anti-Inflammation Diet removes these common irritants and looks at ways to help the body lower inflammation naturally. Addressing your stresses and cleaning up these common irritants will help you control chronic inflammation and the diseases created by the chronic inflammation. Watch for part 2 on inflammation and heart disease.
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