All About Inflammation
Inflammation is a term that gets thrown about a lot these days. It’s as if everything leads to inflammation! But what exactly does it mean when we talk about inflammation? And more importantly, what do we need to do in order to prevent and control inflammation in the body?
What is Inflammation, Anyway?
You can think of inflammation as ‘biological rusting’. When exposed to the environment, cars rust (or at least they used to!). As we go through life and are exposed to both chemical and physiological reactions, this leads to the creation of other chemicals that aren’t good for us. Inflammation occurs when our immune system creates chemicals to combat the other chemicals.
The immune system is super complex, and there are hundreds if not thousands of different cells and chemicals that orchestrate immunity. Inflammatory processes are just one aspect of immunity.
We create inflammation when our immune system wants to neutralize something. When we have an infection, our immune system creates inflammation to kill the bugs. When we sprain our ankle, the redness, swelling and pain are mostly caused by the immune system trying to repair and heal damaged tissue. Without our ability to create inflammation, we’d never heal injuries or be able to fight infections.
The inflammatory process is (and should be) typically short-lived. When it becomes chronic, this ‘smoldering’ inflammation leads to many health problems.
Signs of smoldering inflammation include symptoms like:
- Rashes, itching
- Heart disease
- Wheezing, cough
- Chronic sinus infections or congestion
- Joint or muscle pain
- Fatigue, lethargy
- “Allergic shiners” (dark circles under the eyes)
These aren’t the only signs of ongoing inflammation!
The most direct way to treat inflammation is by altering diet and lifestyle (how did you know I was going to say that?!)
- Foods that contribute to inflammation include sugary, processed, fried stuff- think breads, pasta, muffins, candy, sodas, etc. Alcohol is also inflammatory.
- Too many animal-based foods can lead to inflammation by upsetting the balance of fatty acids in our bodies.
- Sedentary lifestyles promote inflammation. Exercise increases metabolism and helps move inflammatory wastes out of the cells, and increases the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals.
Are You Inflamed?
- CRP is a blood test that measures overall inflammation
- Blood sugar and Hemoglobin A1c tells us about your body’s ability to deal with sugar. If aren’t metabolizing sugar well, it creates huge amounts of inflammation
- Oxidized cholesterol – we use a more detailed set of cholesterol tests to see if the fats in your blood are oxidized, or inflamed.
- Omega 3:6 ratios – this test will tell us how much anti-inflammatory to pro-inflammatory fats you have in your body.
These are just a few of the tests we use, along with a detailed medical and symptom history to determine inflammatory levels in our patients. If you’re concerned about preventing inflammation in general, or the conditions that it causes (heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, immune deficiency, fatigue and others) please give us a call – we can help!
If you feel that your health could benefit from more assistance than just these tips, Natural Health Associates offers several services you may benefit from.
Call our office at 970-372-1277 and see how we can help you.