Inflammation: The Good, The Bad, And The Fix

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By Cheryl Fagras

The Good

Inflammation is the natural response from the body’s immune system to injury, toxin exposure and pathogens causing tissue damage. Inflammation is an essential mechanism of the bodies innate immune response. The immune system triggers inflammation to send blood to an affected area, i.e., a cut, burn, or tear, to protect and heal it.  This inflammation is called acute inflammation and it’s short-lived, typically lasting only a few days. This is a good and necessary response to heal damage to the body.

The Bad

If the immune system isn’t functioning properly, or the cause isn’t addressed, inflammation can persist and become chronic. 

Chronic inflammation is longer lasting and the type of inflammation and can lead to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune disorders and cancer among others. In fact, chronic inflammation is the common thread behind almost every “disease state” in today’s world.  So, what are we doing that’s causing widespread chronic inflammation and how do we reverse this epidemic? 

The Fix

Eliminate Or Greatly Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins.

Toxins are one of the most serious causes of chronic inflammation.  Environmental toxins are pervasive and a real issue, but toxins are also in your food, hidden in your personal care products, and your home via cleaning and laundry products, non stick cookware, and potential off gassing from furniture, carpet and paint to name just a few. 

Many overlook the role that toxins play in chronic inflammation. Over time, the T-cells (healthy cells our immune system produces to help us fight and stay healthy) struggle more and more to distinguish between foreign invaders (toxins) and our own bodies. This leads to what is called “molecular mimicry” where the body mistakes our own healthy cells and tissues for infectious pathogens. This in turn is one mechanism of autoimmunity that can worsen chronic inflammation.

Evaluate and Clean Up Your Diet

Try to remove or significantly reduce conventionally raised animal products, highly processed foods, polyunsaturated fats found in seed and vegetable oils, sugar, and junk food from your diet.  Our modern-day food culture relies heavily on processed foods. Not only are these foods packed with ingredients that increase inflammation, but they also disrupt the gut microbiome and have absolutely been linked to chronic inflammation and disease.  It is understandable that one does not adopt an inflammatory diet overnight. It can take time and experience to transition to foods that do not cause the free radical damage to your body.  Antioxidants work to intercept these free radicals from damaging healthy cells and prevent illness and reduce inflammation. 

These free radicals start a chain reaction cascade of damaging healthy cells over and over and over again, which drives chronic inflammation over time. 

Eat Organic, non genetically altered foods.

Eating real whole foods is the best way to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients that can help support your immune system. These foods include dark leafy greens, blue and black berries, walnuts and extra virgin olive oil (source with care and do not heat it), to name just a few. On a side note, many people have allergies or intolerances to some of the known anti-inflammatory foods. For them, these foods become inflammatory or even deadly. Everyone is different, so map out a food diet that is safe and works for you. Another option is to incorporate certain anti-inflammatory herbs and spices. Several options might be high quality turmeric and ginger.

Avoid eating food crops heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides (primarily glyphosate, atrazine and paraquat are some of the most dangerous and heavily used, there are thousands)  Also, do not eat foods that have been technologically manipulated, to include genetically altered crops and plants that have been created with new DNA that is unfamiliar to the human immune system.

The Other Key Things To Do In Your Fight Against Chronic Inflammation

Besides cleaning up your diet and avoiding toxins where you can, there several other things you can do to help reduce or eliminate chronic inflammation. Daily exercise, managing stress, reducing or eliminating sugar and getting restful sleep all go a long way to helping our bodies eliminate chronic inflammation. To diagnose inflammation in the body, you can visit your health practitioner. You can ask that they run a blood test for C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and measure homocysteine levels to evaluate chronic inflammation. This can be a helpful diagnostic tool in your fight to rid yourself of chronic inflammation.