What Inflammation Really Does to Your Body

March 3, 2024 6:50 am

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‘Anti-inflammatory’ is quite the buzzword. If something is anti-inflammatory for our bodies, then of course we want it! But why is something that’s anti-inflammatory so important?

For starters, inflammation isn’t all that bad when it’s controlled. It’s actually an important part of healing and tissue regeneration, and it’s a crucial protective mechanism for the body against infections, environmental toxins, injury and stress. Inflammation causes the release of cytokines which are natural chemicals that stimulate the cells to start the process of healing and repair. On the flip side, inflammatory cytokines are destructive to normal healthy cells. So, if your body has to work over and over again to repair itself, it irritates the healthy cells leading to more inflammation and tissue destruction (ie. arthritic pain and continued degeneration).

The mechanism of inflammation involves the immune system. The immune system works to protect the body and tissues from injury and infections in two different ways: 1.Vascular; to deliver more nutrients and blood to repair the tissue and bring restorative nutrients to the area, and 2. Cellular; to remove the waste from the area and protect the tissue from further damage.

The majority of the long-term implications of inflammation is the impact it has on overall health and longevity, chronic inflammation is also nicknamed the ‘silent killer’. Chronic inflammation or prolonged inflammation is associated with an increase in all degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chronic prolonged inflammation really is the basis for all chronic disease. Chronic inflammation is caused from continuous insults to the body, such as:

Poor diet: Many foods, particularly processed & refined foods, can be pro-inflammatory. These types of foods actually create a stress response which elicits an inflammatory response. The body sees these foods are a stressor that creates cellular havoc. Nutrient deficiencies are also associated with increased inflammation.

Poor lifestyle: Lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, medications and environmental pollutants are all factors that create cellular free radical damage that the body then responds with an inflammatory response to try and protect itself, but the insults are generally constant and so therefore is the inflammation.

Chronic infections: Acute inflammation is very powerful at protecting itself from damage and stimulating tissue repair and cell clean up. With the stress of long term infections it can be associated with an increase in heart disease, dementia and cancer. An example may be the correlation of gum disease and heart disease.

Chronic injury: Repeated or serious injuries and tissue that is unable to heal will create inflammation.
Stress: Emotional, physical stress creates a response that stimulates inflammation.

Lack of sleep: This is a type of physical stress that stimulates inflammation. During sleep loss inflammatory meditators of inflammation are altered.

Elevated blood sugar levels: High blood sugar increases the risk of a number of diseases particularly diabetes, heart disease and cancer due to the increases in inflammatory mediators.

Visceral fat & obesity: Fat surrounding the vital organs emits inflammatory stimulus and increases the risk of chronic disease.

Chronic and autoimmune diseases: This covers any type of disease that perpetuates more inflammation such as autoimmune disease, liver disease, kidney disease, cancer and arthritis.

Symptoms of Acute Inflammation

Symptoms of acute inflammation are usually characterized by redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness, but sometimes with long term inflammation the effects are not obvious until there has been significant damage. Other symptoms that are less obvious are feelings of heat that is constant or intermittent, discomfort, muscle aches and pains, skin rashes, ongoing fatigue, dizziness, feeling generally unwell and sick, increased environmental and food sensitivities and/or allergies, sleeplessness, increased perspiration and sometimes nothing. When taking a case study as a practitioner you can generally determine the level of inflammation based on lifestyle factors and medical and family history.

There are blood tests that also can demonstrate systemic inflammation that isn’t disease or tissue specific but has been associated with increased inflammatory disease such as homocysteine, CRP, ESR and elevated ferritin.

The basics for long term health and longevity with a strong positive impact on reducing systemic inflammation and reducing your risk of many types of diseases involve these important factors to reduce chronic inflammation:

Eat a nutrient and antioxidant rich diet: Fruits and vegetables offer a range of nutrients and compounds that offer potent anti-inflammatory benefits. Antioxidants help to neutralize these free radicals from causing harm.

Avoid pro-inflammatory foods: 8 inflammation-causing foods to avoid include sugar, processed refined carbohydrates, MSG, food additives, trans fats and processed vegetable oils. An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods that contain anti-inflammatory compounds such as turmeric, ginger, pineapple, Omega-3 fats, berries, beets and dark colored spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

Calorie restriction: Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction has been shown to reduce systemic inflammation and hence why we see such excellent results with our Reboot programs.

Adequate proper hydration and sleep: This is important to support the normal biochemistry of the body. Learn more ways to support better sleep.

Stress management: By reducing cortisol and other stress hormones via yoga, meditation, speaking to someone and taking time out.

Abstain from excess: Alcohol if consumed in high quantities increases inflammation. Here’s more on the Dos and Don’ts of Drinking.

Lose weight: Even 20lbs of extra weight can increase inflammation. Even a small loss can be enough to substantially improve your health.

Treat infections and consume natural immune boosting foods such as garlic, lemon, turmeric, ginger, rosemary, oregano and thyme.

Massage has the potential to attenuate the inflammatory process, facilitate early recovery, and provide pain relief from muscular injuries. By altering signaling pathways involved with the inflammatory process, massage may decrease secondary injury, nerve sensitization, and collateral sprouting, resulting in increased recovery from damage and reduction or prevention of pain. Massage Therapy is not “anti-inflammatory”, but regular massages can help with the inflammation, improve fluid build-up and circulation.

Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma offers Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief. Suffering from an injury? Ask about our pain relief packages today. Call 978-825-0040 or visit www.bodysoulsalem.com.