What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural event that is initiated by the immune system in response to infection, physical trauma or chemical exposure of body tissues. Inflammation may present itself as pain, redness, swelling and heat.
A Heated Response
In the same way that we might react to someone or something that has aggravated us with a heated response, the body reacts to intruders or irritants by sending out fast acting ‘first responders’ as a protective mechanism to stop them in their tracks and help minimise infection or damage to tissues.
Call In the Mediators
When trauma occurs, the area is flooded with these hard-working inflammatory mediators – chemicals that are naturally produced to initiate an inflammatory response. White blood cells are also deployed by the immune system to the affected area where they either destroy the invader or cordon the area off to protect the body from further infection. This unified front helps return the body to a natural state of health and well-being. As part of this inflammatory response, blood transports nutrients and oxygen to the site to aid repair, and carries toxins and cellular debris away. Without this inflammatory process, the body wouldn’t heal.
The immune system will continue to respond in this way until it has determined that the threat to health has gone, at which time it retreats but remains ‘on guard’ to further intruders. However, when this state of imbalance persists, inflammation can become chronic and the immune system will maintain its vigil with a constant state of activity. This long-term activation will eventually compromise its ability to be effective against infections and will weaken it, leading to other health problems.
A Silent Culprit
The connection between chronic inflammation and disease is well known and acknowledged as a predetermining factor in many of today’s most serious health conditions. Often it is ‘silent’ inflammation that is to blame which can remain undetected for many years, causing slow and permanent damage to organs, cells and body tissues.
Feeling Swell Again
So if your tyres are flat, here’s 10 ways to get over that deflated feeling by reducing inflammation which will have you (rockin’) and rolling again:
- Avoid foods that cause inflammation like processed foods that contain hydrogenated fats, sugars and carbohydrates. Eat moderate amounts of raw fruits and plenty of fresh raw vegetables because they contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support your immune system. Fruits and vegetables are best eaten raw as these nutrients are lost through cooking. Also eat plenty of good quality fats and protein with each meal.
- Maintain balanced pH levels – the body’s pH is largely determined by lifestyle and diet. Excessive acidity or alkalinity within body tissues has been linked to the development of disease and inflammation. So, maintaining a balance is important for optimal health. This can be achieved through an 80/20 diet of 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods such as found on an Acid/Alkaline Food Chart. Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep and negative emotions also affect this balance.
- Drink plenty of water; hydration is essential – water is involved in the movement of nutrients, oxygen, and electrical signals to the cells and nerve tissues, as well as transporting wastes and toxins out of the body.
- Avoid stress……chronic stress causes the body to be in a perpetual state of ‘fight or flight’, drawing energy and resources away from the immune system (which is considered a non-essential function for getting out of immediate danger). This in turn compromises optimal immune function. Another negative effect of stress is the tendency to shallow breathe which reduces intake and supply of oxygen. A combination of stress and lack of oxygen within the body create acidity and eventual illness.
- Avoid allergens – allergens come in many forms (e.g. foods, dust, pollen, mites) and with repeated exposure, trigger the immune system. This leads to tissue inflammation therefore it is important to determine the cause and address the problem as soon as possible.
- Maintain appropriate body weight by keeping body fat down and increasing lean muscle. A balanced diet (see Tip 1 above) and appropriate exercise support this. Abdominal fat releases inflammatory chemicals which contribute to the bodies’ overall inflammatory state. However, fat tissue surrounding organs also comes with this hidden danger so you don’t necessarily have to be visibly overweight.
- Exercise is known to have a positive effect on the immune system as well as the mood both of which help to keep the body alkaline, relieve stress and improve circulation. Exercise in moderation can be a prevention, especially when combined with a healthy diet and good quality rest…but it’s all about balance so don’t over-exercise either.
- Recognise and treat chronic infections (e.g. parasites, viruses and bacteria). Infections can remain hidden in the body leading to very low grade symptoms that can go unnoticed ultimately causing repetitive activation of the immune system and inflammation. A perfect example of this is dental infections which are especially insidious.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, additives, preservatives, cigarettes, chemical cleaning products, cosmetics, and radiation which are toxic to the body. The body stores these toxins in all types of tissue (e.g. fat cells, bone cells, brain cells, liver cells, kidney cells….) and they can lie hidden for many years, even decades. They interfere with normal tissue function causing inflammation and over work the immune system. Eating organic whole foods where possible and replacing cleaning and cosmetic products with chemical free and safe alternatives is a good place to start.
And Lastly… Tip Number 10
Feed the soul – making positive emotional connections with others and, having passion and purpose in life not only feeds the soul but also supports our mental and physical well being.