Recent health news suggests that it’s imperative for people to fight chronic inflammation, since it’s responsible for a wide range of health issues. Most of us, however, seem to think of inflammation as the body’s natural biological response to physical trauma or foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, which is obviously important for our survival. So, how can something so vital to our health and overall wellbeing be the very thing that endangers it?
It’s absolutely true that inflammation is necessary for tissue repair and pathogen defense. When there’s a threat, our bodies may respond to it with pain, immobility, swelling, mucus production, fever, and so on. Essentially, that’s how the body repairs cell damage, cures infection, and clears out necrotic cells (dying cells). And, without this biological response our wounds would never heal, and our immune systems would be helpless against invaders. But, even though an inflammatory response to immediate danger is necessary, an over response can cause more problems than it solves.
Acute Inflammation versus Chronic Inflammation
There are generally two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs just minutes after a traumatic impact like stubbing your toenail or scrapping your knee. It also occurs if something activates the immune response, such as a viral or bacterial infection. This is usually a short-term inconvenience that starts to disappear after a few days. Because people view this type of inflammation as the body’s attempt to repair itself, it is commonly referred to as the “good” kind.
Chronic inflammation, however, is a totally different and much more dangerous thing. First and foremost, it tends to start slowly and last for long periods of time. Because it takes a lot of energy and resources to mobilize the body’s defense system, chronic inflammation is known as a wear-and-tear condition. It occurs when the body sends an inflammatory response (white blood cells) to what it perceives as an internal threat, but the threat is either not there or has already been dealt with.
Since the white blood cells have nowhere to go and nothing to do, they start attacking internal organs or other healthy tissue. This process can last up to several months at a time, and could also contribute to the development of various conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer, lupus, asthma, allergies, Chrohn’s disease, and heart disease. It can even trigger anger and depression disorders, causing a rather disastrous spiral downward.
Although chronic inflammation is linked to specific conditions, it can be made worse by habitual and well as environmental factors. These include lack of exercise, excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco, being overweight, eating a poor diet, and experiencing high levels of stress. The good news is that you can fight chronic inflammation by incorporating some responsible dietary and lifestyle changes into your day-to-day.
You Can Fight Chronic Inflammation With:
This is when the “you are what you eat” saying truly applies. There’s good reason as to why people are encouraged to eat a Mediterranean diet. The idea is to consume as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible, as well as maximize the intake of healthy fats and proteins, like the kinds obtained from olives, avocados, various nuts, fish and lean meats. Dairy products like cottage cheese and yogurts are also recommended, while fatty meats and red meat in particular, are generally discouraged. By adhering to these principles, you will consume lots of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, all of which will help restore balance in the body.
There are a number of fruit, herbs, and spices that seem to have incredibly powerful anti-inflammation properties. Turmeric, on which we wrote a whole article, is known to reduce overall inflammation in the body due to its curcuminoid compounds. Similarly, frankincense is involved in preventing inflammatory chemical reactions and plays a key role in phlegm reduction. Another incredible anti-inflammation supplement is Willow bark as it contains salicin that mimics the pain reducing properties found in Asprin. Of course, lemon and lime are also excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents, which is why they’re encouraged for people nursing a cold or the flu.
Anti-Inflammatory Bath Salts (Mineral Baths)
While anti-inflammatory foods and spices can help you fight chronic inflammation as well as acute inflammation, bath salts can also be a great resource for alleviating some of the symptoms. According to Natural News: “Researchers at the University of Manchester found that a hypertonic solution, that is a solution with an elevated concentration of salt, can easy inflammation purely though bathing in it…The salt water dehydrates inflamed cells in the body, reducing swelling.” So the next time you’re suffering from a banged up knee or are experiencing arthritis pain, utilize one of Merkaela’s many bath salts to feel better fast.
There are also good old-fashioned anti-inflammatory over-the-counter drugs, which most of us can find in our medicine cabinets at this very moment. That’s right, Aleve, Advil, and Motrin all work to block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase, without which fever, swelling, and pain wouldn’t be possible.
It’s incredibly interesting to learn about how our bodies deal with illness and injury. They are both powerful yet vulnerable and require a great deal of attentive care. A weak inflammatory response can make us susceptible to trauma and disease. But too strong of a response can create a dangerous situation, which can result in a serious life threatening condition.
That’s why it’s immeasurably important to maintain balance in the body and fight chronic inflammation while strengthening the immune system.