Understanding Inflammation

Inflammation is a big deal. It has been known to be one of the underlying causes of many diseases we face. Some of the most common, and life threatening are: Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

Inflammation is actually a vital part of the body’s immune system. Think about pain you’ve experienced from cut or a twisted ankle. When injury occurs your body surrounds the wound with white blood cells which physically manifests in the form of swelling, heat, added proteins and other bacteria fighters at the ready to protect against infection and induce healing.

However, when the immune system experiences a miss-match of signals the result is a turning on itself. Inflammation is triggered even when there is no illness to fight or injury to heal.

In some cases, a disease exists within the immune system itself, categorized as an autoimmune disease. Well known autoimmune diseases are: Lupus, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, alopecia and rheumatoid arthritis. While these diseases can be managed, prevention is not always possible. However, in some cases preventing inflammation might prevent disease. While nothing is foolproof, wouldn’t we want to know we did the very best we could to avoid life debilitating diseases?

Many in the medical community are convinced that processed foods are a major culprit in instigating our bodies’ defenses. Essentially, the body’s immune system is reacting to toxins and unwanted substances. Along with unnatural food additives such as high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, fake sugars, and artificial dyes, toxins also include cigarette smoke, pollution, and drugs.

For a specific example, plaque build up in the blood is a threat activating inflammation. The most commonly talked about plaque in the arteries is caused by cholesterol and fat in the blood (triglycerides). The result is a swelling of artery walls triggering a decrease in blood flow. Once that happens the risk of heart attack and stroke greatly increased.

So, how do we stop our own body from attacking itself? We eat right and stay active. Limiting the amounts of certain foods will greatly reduce the threat of unnecessary inflammation. Foods such as: Sugar (cookies, candy, soda), fried foods (french fries, chicken tenders, onion rings), saturated fats (burgers, pizza), trans fats (baked goods containing margarine or shortening, chips), and processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, deli meats).

Chronic inflammation is something that persists and elevates over time. Eating an unhealthy diet and failing to regularly exercise will most likely not cause symptoms over night, but will instead build slowly. That’s why it is so important to pay attention to your health and to work hard at thwarting unwanted illness. The reward is worth it.