The Beginner’s Guide To InflammationLuke Coutinho
Our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness in many areas of life, from love to health to money to careers. Take, for example, our astoundingly sophisticated response to injury and infection. We release a swarm of cellular troops that inevitably slaughter invaders and clear out traitors from our bodies. The cells’ movements are controlled by signalling chemicals called interleukin, which provide information as to when and where they should engage in combat, as they must also stand down when it’s time. As a result, we experience swelling, redness, and soreness associated with inflammation as part of the healing process. Inflammation is good, it acts as a defence mechanism that protects our immune system.
However, when wars continue, when inflammation fails to subside and when chronic or systemic inflammation sets in, there is hell to pay. The researcher found that runaway inflammation may trigger heart attacks and strokes until they discovered that inflammation may be responsible. Yes, inflammation is the root cause of your issues, and we need to get our heads around how inflammation works. By controlling chronic inflammation, you will completely be in charge of your health and will be on your way to a healthy, vital body and mind.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “a localised physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”
Inflammation, which is a Latin word that means, setting on fire, is believed to have been first used in the 16th century when things were finally being set ablaze.
An inflammatory response is a response that your body produces when it seeks out harmful bacteria, pathogens, toxins and other compounds that are making their way into your body.
Inflammation is essential to the body’s healing process. However, chronic inflammation can be a problem.
Our ancestors used to always say “Too much of anything is harmful” and that’s exactly what happens with inflammation. Inflammation is not the villain of our body all the time but needs to be controlled when it goes out of control. It is a part of the biological response of our immune system towards a pathogen, bacteria, foreign substance, etc, including injuries from physical activity but the key is that inflammation should be turned on and off at the right time. Inflammation that is chronic and persistent is a bad thing and can pave the way for many diseases. Additionally, sometimes certain agents can also trick our immune system and turn it on, thus leading to autoimmune conditions.
This is necessary to understand if we want to overcome chronic illnesses and diseases, because no one addresses the root cause which is inflammation. In most cases and with the right approach we can turn off this chronic inflammation (except genetic). Uncontrolled inflammation can also turn on faulty gene expression which can in turn lead to many deadly diseases. An inflamed and acidic environment is ideal for cancer cells to thrive too, because this kind of an environment is oxygen deprived. So diseases just do not make its way into the body overnight. There has to be a favourable environment for the diseases, and inflammation is one of the reasons for that.
Types of Inflammation
We have two types of inflammation inside our bodies. The one that works under control and helps our body fight infection and heals it completely is called Acute Inflammation. This type of inflammation you must have commonly seen like suffering from a cut or bruise, redness or swelling, pain which occurs due to injury or you banged to a door or stone. It can also be called a good inflammation as it protects the body. This process works the same if you have a virus like a cold or the flu. Acute inflammation typically lasts only a few days and can be managed quite easily by making a few changes to your diet or taking some non-steroidal medications.
But when this same inflammation gets too excited and prolonged, then we have a problem.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation occurs when inflammation escalates to such an extent and persists for such a long period that the immune system pumps out white blood cells and chemical messengers that prolong the inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can last for months or even years, as opposed to acute inflammation. This type of inflammation can be caused by a variety of things, such as not being able to isolate the root cause or even something much more serious like an autoimmune disorder.
The body attacks itself when its immune system mistakenly labels healthy tissue as a harmful pathogen, causing it to attack itself. The resulting organ, tissue, or area can suffer severe damage and may need medication to cure.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as well as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.
What Are The Causes Of Inflammation?
Several factors can increase your risk of inflammation, including smoking, being overweight or obese, and drinking excessively. The way you eat and drink can also play an important role in chronic inflammation, and some doctors believe that lowering the levels of inflammation with your diet is a more effective method than simply taking medications to control it. In addition to that, taking medication only when needed is likely to be the best way of managing chronic pain, since these medicines often cause unpleasant side effects, such as drowsiness and sleepiness.
Quick look at causes of inflammation:
- Refined and processed foods
- Overeating, acidity, constipation (almost all gut issues)
- Overtraining and lack of rest
- Excessive alcohol and smoking (active and passive)
- Processed and cured meats
- Constant exposure to X-rays
- Over exposure to sun rays
- Environmental pollution
- Chemical exposure
- Certain medical treatments and medicines
Apart from these most spoken factors, there are hidden reasons which we never speak about and they are the main actual cause of the uncontrolled inflammation.
Refined vegetable oils:
Vegetable oils are commonly consumed in Indian households. Oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, soy, and vegetable, as well as products made from these oils, contain omega-6s. The body produces pro-inflammatory chemicals in response to excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids. A balanced ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is therefore necessary.
We usually try to correlate reasons for suffering from inflammation with diet or lack of exercise or sleep. But, we forget to understand and address the primary cause of inflammation which is stress. Worry, negativity, depression, and anxiety alter the function of cortisol – the body’s major stress hormone that regulates inflammation and immunity. Stress can often lead to inflammation as it disrupts the immune function and causes the constant breakdown of tissues. In today’s world, social rejection is one of the major reasons for the stress that young people are facing. Every one of us has experienced Social Rejection, which is painful to endure. Research shows those who experience social rejection display the same brain activity as those who experience physical pain or trauma. Social rejections can be rationalized a few times in a lifetime, but when they occur frequently, our brain develops a trauma response in response to rejection.
Lack of Deep Sleep:
Researchers have also found that poor sleep quality correlates with higher levels of inflammation, such as not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep. Immunity, sleep, and inflammation are all regulated by hormones. Throughout the day we switch between sleep and wakefulness, which is determined by our circadian rhythms, which influence hormones and other physiological changes. Our immune system and our ability to deal with inflammation suffer when circadian rhythms are out of sync. This condition increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and stroke.
Lack of Mental Peace:
When you constantly over think or try to impress, and get nothing but failures, it can result in mental pressure or stress. When you are under constant mental trauma or over thinking, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is constantly stimulated, impairing your immune system, which leads to cancer, heart disease, dull skin, and has a profound impact on your entire body.
Inflammation increases when smoking cigarettes or drinking excess alcohol because it decreases anti-inflammatory molecules.
Which Diseases Are Caused Due To Inflammation?
The inflammatory response your body is causing as a result of chronic inflammation can eventually cause damage to your healthy cells, tissues, and organs. The cumulative effect of this can eventually result in DNA damage, cell death, and scarring of the internal organs.
The development of all of these factors plays a role in the development of a variety of conditions:
Cancer is an inflammatory condition. Inflammation may play a role in the development of many cancer types. Generally speaking, the longer an individual is inflamed, the greater their risk of developing cancer. A substantial body of evidence indicates chronic inflammation can predispose one to cancer, as evidenced by the link between chronic inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer.
The link between chronic inflammation and heart disease and stroke is well established. If inflammation cells remain on the surface of blood vessels for too long, they are believed to cause plaque buildup. The American Heart Association(AHA) says that when the body detects this plaque, it perceives it as an external substance that should not be there, and attempts to block it from the flow of blood. Heart attacks and strokes occur when a plaque ruptures and forms a clot, preventing blood flow to the heart or brain. Heart strokes are often linked to cholesterol, but they are actually caused by chronic and poorly controlled inflammation.
This disease is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system of the body attacks its organs and tissues, including the joints. In severe cases, it attacks internal organs.
An individual suffering from rheumatoid arthritis suffers from painful swelling or irritation of the joint linings. When rheumatoid arthritis is untreated, it can cause bone erosion and cause severe joint deformities over a prolonged period.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Studies indicate inflammation within the body contributes to type 2 diabetes development. It is thought that excessive body fat, particularly in the abdomen, causes continuous chronic low-level inflammation that affects insulin’s function and contributes to the disease. The development of type 2 diabetes triggers decreased sensitivity to insulin which in turn results in inflammation. It is a vicious cycle wherein inflammation causes more insulin resistance and vice versa. A steadily rising blood sugar level eventually leads to type 2 diabetes. Inflammatory chemicals can also be released by emotional stress.
Chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract defines inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is a term that can refer to both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.IBD occurs when the immune system doesn’t respond appropriately to environmental stimuli, and this causes gastrointestinal inflammation. Additionally, some individuals with a family history of IBD are more likely to develop this type of inappropriate immune response.
Fat Gain and Obesity:
Inflammation could be the reason why you don’t lose weight. Inflammation often occurs because of junk food that includes too much sugar and too much salt, leading to insulin resistance, where a patient’s blood sugar level increases and a greater accumulation of fat in the body. Inflammation decreases your metabolic rate, causes hunger cravings, and upsets your body’s biological, chemical, and physiological mechanisms. Even if you start eating right and exercising, you can’t lose weight due to a hormonal imbalance.
One of the main reasons for joint pain would be chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the joints can damage cartilage, bones, tendons or ligaments, cause nerve irritation, and cause several symptoms, such as pain, swelling, stiffness, and inflammation. The damage to the joints may be irreversible and progressive. Apart from it also leads to asthma, cognitive problems, depression, skin problems, Hashimoto disease, autoimmune disorder etc.
Learn more about it in detail through my video: Inflammation is the cause of many diseases
How Do You Diagnose Inflammatory Conditions?
A blood test can detect inflammation by looking for certain biological markers. You may be asked to undergo the following tests by your physician:
- The C-reactive protein (CRP): is a protein that is naturally produced in the liver in response to inflammation. Acute inflammation, inflammatory diseases, and chronic inflammation are all associated with high levels of CRP in the blood.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): ESR testing generally is used to evaluate inflammation
- Homocysteine Levels: It may be high when our body is inflamed. Check for your Vitamin B12 levels too.
Always get in touch with your doctor before going ahead with the tests.
An Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Guide
From the above section, it is evident that inflammation is at the root of many diseases. As a result, this section of the article is very important.
The key to following an anti-inflammatory diet is to replace your unhealthy eating habits with foods that help fight inflammation naturally.
There are a lot of claims on the web showing that certain foods may cause or reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be influenced by diet. The bigger picture is often omitted from these stories. For lasting results, you must practice anti-inflammatory eating habits and lead a lifestyle that minimizes inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory lifestyle includes
- Consume anti-inflammatory foods
- Quit Smoking/Alcohol
- Manage Stress
- Manage Normal Weight
- Get Daily Good Deep Sleep
- Adequate Exercise Daily
- Limit or Avoid High Inflammatory Foods
We want to emphasize one very important point here, that there is no magic potion that will reduce or stop chronic inflammation. Anti-inflammatory diets and lifestyles should be brought together holistically.
The anti-inflammatory diet also includes staying away from foods that can increase inflammation, such as sugar, caffeine, and red meat. As much as possible, try to reduce their intake and replace it with natural alternatives like dates, raw organic honey etc.
Foods That Trigger Inflammation:
- Refined carbohydrates like maida, white bread, pastries etc.
- Sweetened carbonated beverages, white sugar – high fructose syrup can accelerate your chronic condition.
- Red and processed meat
- Margarine, shortenings
- Trans fatty acids like hydrogenated fats, vegetable refined oil, roadside deep-fried snack.
These foods trigger inflammatory cytokines which can lead to chronic inflammation in the body.
Foods That Protect From Chronic Inflammation:
Get off wheat and dairy for some time: Many times gluten and dairy may cause temporary inflammation and hence it is best advised to avoid these foods for 1-2 weeks and check the reaction. It depends from person to person.
Own Local Fruits and Vegetable Antioxidant Rich Produce: Adding lots of colour to your plate can supply you with important antioxidants and phytochemicals. Nature is a beautiful thing where each fruit and vegetable has been given wonderful colours based on their nutrients content. Every colour depicts an antioxidant that acts as a powerful weapon to fight against inflammation. Include at least 3- servings of fruits and vegetables like green leafy vegetables, orange, purple, white coloured etc. In short, just make your plate look like a rainbow.
Whenever oxidation is reduced, inflammation is reduced, and whenever inflammation is reduced, oxidation is reduced. One reason antioxidants are so important is because they help protect cells from free radicals. The unselfish nutrients (including the vitamins C, A, and E) prevent free radical damage by donating electrons to free radicals. The most common antioxidants are beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamins A, C and E. Fruits, vegetables, and teas contain antioxidants, as well.
A quick look to include these antioxidant rich
- All green leafy and cruciferous vegetables (make your plate look like a rainbow!)
- Fresh and chemical free fruits
- Right quality and quantity of protein
- Bell peppers (red, yellow and green)
- Dark chocolate or raw cacao
- Tea (green/black)
- Red wine
- Garlic, berries
- Beans and peas
- Raw vegetables in the form of salads (sliced cucumbers, carrots, raddish)
Spices from your Kitchen: Picture Credit : Pixabay
A simple but healthy meal can be spiced up to taste delicious and benefit your health. Spices not only boost the flavour of your food but also contain antioxidants (substances that protect cells from damage). There are over 100 spices generally used in cooking worldwide. Spices are rich in antioxidants. There is no need to go looking for fancy spices, but just to use what is available in your kitchen, such as turmeric, ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, black pepper, etc. Various studies have indicated that spices as a whole are responsible not just for the powerful anti-inflammatory health effects seen in places like India, but also for the effects of individual spices. Consider using our Immunity Boosting Powder or Green Tea Blend, which were made with Indian spices and have proven to reduce overall inflammatory markers in the body.
Omega-3 rich foods: Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, and tuna) are shown to reduce inflammation. You should consume 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna. If you are a pure vegetarian, try including flaxseeds, walnuts, soybean, avocado your daily diet. Add an omega-3 supplement for yourself if it gets difficult to meet the requirement.
Cold-pressed Olive Oil: Using extra virgin olive oil while cooking may lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, as well as markers of inflammation. Antioxidants are responsible for most of the anti-inflammatory effects. One of them is oleocanthal, which works similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory.
Wood Churned Oil: Opt for wood churned oil and replace refined oil with these traditionally prepared oils.
Unsalted Nuts and Oilseeds: It is rich in fibre, calcium, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory in nature. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds should be on your breakfast table.
Dark Chocolate: There is something incredibly satisfying about dark chocolate. Moreover, it contains anti-inflammatories. The results could lead to a healthier aging process and reduced disease risk. Having a cube of dark chocolate (60%) a day can boost antioxidant intake.
Green Tea: Green tea has a long history of being effective in fighting many diseases cancer as well as in helping to recover from chemotherapy treatment. These polyphenols, EGCG, EGC, ECG, and EC among others, are responsible for the benefits in green tea, particularly EGCG and ECG are powerful free radical scavengers, which offer considerable protection against DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species.
A few lifestyle changes can have a greater impact on lowering inflammation than any one food or diet, many times much better than even the most drastic diet changes. Follow these steps daily and set a routine:
Spend More Time In Nature: Nature has proven to be an excellent way to spend time as a stress reliever. Among its benefits are reducing blood pressure and stress hormone levels, improving immune function, enhancing self-esteem, reducing anxiety, and improving mood. So go out often, check out those beautiful sparrows, flowers blooming and water dripping from the leaves.
Meditate Or Deep Breathe Daily: Those suffering from high levels of stress benefit greatly from controlled breathing and meditation. We have a treasure trove of techniques for lowering anxiety and stress in our ancient wisdom Yoga and Pranayama. Meditating, simple yoga postures and practicing breathing techniques will instantly bring you joy, cheer you up, and relieve unnecessary stress. Try to meditate or do deep breathing twice daily. Decide how much stress you need to take in a day, because You always have a choice.
Discuss Your Problems With Family And Friends: Many times stress can happen because we keep things to ourselves. Having an open discussion with family and friends and sharing your thoughts is perhaps the best method for reducing stress. You can reduce a lot of the weight you are feeling by sharing your views, fears and negative thoughts with closed ones. Listen to your family and friends, follow their advice, and find ways to solve the problems you face to keep stress levels at a minimum.
Focus on your Favourite Hobby: Find out that one hobby that brings a smile to your face. We feel better when we have hobbies in our lives. Practicing your interests will reduce stress levels by guiding your passion in the right direction. Go for a swim, or join a dance class or maybe why not a kickboxing class!
Be Physically Active: Researchers have shown that physical activity can reduce inflammation, and people with regular physical activity experience fewer symptoms of inflammation. It should be your goal to spend at least 150 minutes (5 days per week) doing aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity physical activity. Atleast two days per week, engage in moderately strenuous muscle-strengthening activities such as weight lifting or using resistance bands.
Take Charge Of Your Weight: Inflammation in the body is influenced by many factors. It may be important to maintain a healthy weight to control inflammation. Overweight and obese people, as well as people with excess weight in the abdomen, are more likely to experience inflammation. Adipocytes (fat cells), particularly those situated in the belly region, produce and secrete compounds that can contribute to inflammation. Inflammation can be reduced even when you lose a modest 10% of your body weight.
Follow a Circadian Rhythm: You can improve your wellbeing and overall health by eating and fasting according to your circadian rhythm. It is best to eat your last meal just before sunset (around 7 pm). Allow yourself to fast until the sun rises the next morning so you can have a good 12-hour break. Also known as circadian fasting. Get more information about living your life according to the circadian rhythm by downloading our book.
Dry Fasting or Intermittent Fasting: New research suggests fasting inhibits inflammation, which can reduce the risk of various diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel syndrome. A study found that the reduction in inflammation was due to a decrease in “monocytes” in the blood, which causes inflammation. Additionally, monocytes found in the blood had a lower inflammatory response than those in people and mice not eating intermittently. One of the also potent ways of reducing inflammation is dry fasting. Read more about it in my book “The Dry Fasting – Miracle”.
Inflammation is the root cause of the majority of your problems. It is important to maintain overall wellbeing by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and detoxing your mind.
Even today there is a gap in healthcare and most symptomatic approaches and hence we are stuck in chronic illness for the longest time. No amount of pills and medications will take away a disease until the root cause of uncontrolled inflammation is addressed, which largely revolves around lifestyle and is fortunately under our control and our choices.
Watch my video on Inflammation: The Root of all Disease, you will get an in-depth understanding of how inflammation affects every single organ and cell of our body, right from head to toe, the concept of cytokine storm that is often seen in cases of inflammatory conditions, free radicals, the defense system called antioxidants that protects our body from free radicals and all the lifestyle changes that can help curb inflammation and thus your disease.
I would like to end the article by emphasizing on how simple living and simple thinking should be our new mantra. In our country, basic practices such as chewing food, eating on the floor, using natural products on our hair, the wisdom of namaste and the diversity of salts, oils, and sweeteners are all forgotten. As a child, most of us must have experienced or seen our grandparents practicing these practices. The significance of ancient Indian wisdom in today’s world is explained in my book “Back to the Roots“. It is my hope that everyone will apply and revive these practices within their own families.
Disclaimer: Any and all information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or instruction or as a substitute for advice provided by your doctor or other healthcare professional. You can consult with your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, or our team can help. Each person’s results will vary from the products. There is no such thing as a typical result. Before purchasing any product, you should read the packaging carefully and speak with your doctor or physic
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