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Inflammation Part II: Reduce For Long Term Health

Inflamation Part II Reduce For Long Term Health.By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Chronic inflammation is quietly becoming the 21st century’s silent killer.  Chronic inflammation can remain undetected, while the inflammation process carries on for weeks, months or even years.  Chronic inflammation, also termed metaflammation because of its link with the metabolic system, differs from acute inflammation in that it is low-grade and persistent.  It perpetuates rather than resolves disease and is associated with a reduced metabolic rate.  Chronic inflammation has become epidemic in America and threatens to destroy many lives with serious and chronic degenerative diseases

Wellness is the absence of inflammation.  The key to optimal health and disease prevention is detection and treatment of the root causes of the inflammation.  There’s no quick fix for chronic inflammation which means that protecting yourself against the onset of chronic disease involves changing your lifestyle habits. 

 To restore your body’s balance and help reduce and prevent inflammation: 

  •  Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.  Overweight people have increased levels of inflammation.  Scientists believe that this level can be traced directly back to the fat itself.  Fat cells churn out proteins known as cytokines which can cause low-grade systemic inflammation.  Excess abdominal weight is linked to a condition called insulin resistance which can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Look to make changes in your diet.  Revising your diet is one of the easiest, most effective ways to modulate inflammation.  Foods contain specific messages that can increase or reduce inflammation.  Reducing or eliminating the consumption of fast foods, unhealthy fats, processed foods and food irritants can help reduce inflammation and the risk of developing chronic disease.  Increasing the amounts of a variety of colorful unprocessed fruits and vegetables with high anti-oxidant values can quell inflammation and sweep up damaging free-radicals.  Think in terms of natural, minimally modified foods as anti-inflammatory and processed foods as inflammatory and eat accordingly. 
  • Supplement with Omega-3 fish oil.  Well documented studies show that omega-3 fish oil is strongly anti-inflammatory.  This is one of the simplest, safest, yet most effective steps you can take to quell chronic inflammation in your body.  Maintaining a diet high in omega-3’s through supplementation and dietary changes can help balance the omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio, lowering inflammation and guarding against chronic disease. 
  • Exercise.  Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to keep inflammation at bay.  An active body produces more anti-oxidants, which combat free radicals and reduce inflammation. 
  • Reduce stressStress produces cortisol, which is anti-inflammatory.  However, it also produces pro-inflammatory cytokines. These proteins are designed to protect the body from an invader.  If the cause of your distress is psychological rather than physical, the immune system works overtime and inflammation results. 
  • Focus on gut health.  The beneficial bacteria in probiotics can help keep harmful bacteria in check, reducing the inflammatory response.  Identify and eliminate foods that trigger allergies or digestive upset.  Ignoring food sensitivities stokes the fires of inflammation.  Leaky gut syndrome, a condition where bacteria, undigested foods and other toxins can leak into your blood stream, triggers an autoimmune response and a host of painful inflammatory symptoms. 
  • Get plenty of rest.  Sleep gives your body time to heal and can undo the effects of the inflammatory response. 
  • Break bad habits.  Tobacco smoke and alcohol are toxins.  One quick way to reduce inflammation is the cessation of smoking.  As well, if you consume alcohol limit yourself to 1-2 drinks or less daily.  If you can eliminate tobacco and alcohol altogether, your overall health should improve. 

By being proactive, you can prolong your good health and your life.  Aging is an interesting pro-inflammatory inducer, the effects of which can be reduced by healthy living.  Eliminating the causes of inflammation by changing your diet, streamlining your daily habits, and adding supplements can dramatically improve the inflamed state of your body and increase the quality of your overall health.  Our bodies are wonderfully complex and resilient, but they need our nurturing.  Keep watch over your internal fire to reap untold rewards of good health and wellness. 

Supplements to aid in reduction of inflammation include:

X-FLM (K-37) by Apex Energetics  –  This product offers nutritional support for the immune system and contains ingredients that are involved in antioxidant processes.  Highly ranked by our customers who have found relief using this product. 

Inflamma-bLOX by Ortho Molecular  –  Useful in reducing inflammation while reducing the side effects on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.  Contains natural ingredients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune enhancing properties. 

OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 2325 by Metagenics  –  Features a highly concentrated source of health-promoting omega-3 essential fatty acids from cold-water fish.  Each teaspoon provides 2325 mg of highly concentrated EPA and DHA for adults seeking higher levels of EPA and DHA. 

InflammEnz by Advanced Formula Enzymes  –  InflammEnz helps combat the symptoms that accompany inflammation with a powerful combination of the proteolytic enzymes bromelain and pHysioProtease™, plus grape seed and rutin, antioxidants that aid in improving peripheral circulation and decreasing capillary permeability.  Contains, vitamin C, an antioxidant essential for collagen formation and tissue repair, as well as minimizing clotting and bruising, along with calcium and potassium, minerals essential for healthy nerve transmission and muscular contraction. Indications: Soft tissue trauma, soft tissue inflammation and post-operative protocols.

UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics  –  As a nutraceutical, this product is formulated to complement dietary recommendations to promote gastrointestinal and immune health. This formula is designed to encourage growth of beneficial bacteria and support healthy immune function, intestinal integrity, and healthy digestive function.

Buffered Vitamin C by Integrative Therapeutics  – As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C supports a healthy immune system response.  In addition, healthy skin, collagen, connective tissues, bone tissue, and tooth tissue formation depend on vitamin C.  Buffered vitamin C uses pure crystalline ascorbic acid to supply 1 gram of vitamin C in each capsule.  This preparation is buffered with calcium and magnesium to make it easier on sensitive stomachs.

DigestZyme by Transformation Enzyme –  The ultimate goal of digestion is getting nutrients to the cells.  Nutrients not only feed the cell, they protect it from free radical damage.  Healthy cells lead to optimal metabolism, energy, and immunity. Supplementing with digestive enzymes is a vital part of this nutrient acquisition process. This unique formula is the perfect introduction to digestive enzymes. It supports immune system health by encouraging more complete digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for increased absorption and availability of nutrients. Transformation’s DigestZyme™ is designed to assist the body in maximum digestion of nutrients, production of energy, and immune system support.

Inflammation Part I: Causes and Effects

inflamationBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

The word inflammation comes from the Latin “inflammo,” meaning “I set alight, I ignite.” Acute inflammation is a biological immune response to harmful stimuli such as pathogens, damaged cells, irritants or injuries.  It is the body’s attempt at self-protection and a basic survival instinct.  When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, the body will attempt to remove the stimuli and initiate the healing process.  Without acute inflammation, wounds and infections would never heal and survival would be compromised. 

The familiar signs of acute or normal inflammation are pain, redness, swelling, heat and loss of function.  These are signals that your immune system has been activated.  Inflammation actually begins when pro-inflammatory hormones send out a call for white blood cells to clear out an infection or damaged tissue.  Equally powerful anti-inflammatory compounds move in to begin the healing process once the threat is neutralized.  Acute inflammation that ebbs and flows when needed indicates a well-balanced immune system.  Acute inflammation has an immediate onset, is of short-lived duration and has a definitive resolution or outcome.  It’s when the symptoms of inflammation don’t recede that troubling chronic inflammation begins. This type of inflammation is a key cause or factor in almost all chronic degenerative and lifestyle-caused diseases. 

Chronic inflammation differs from acute inflammation in that it can involve persistent foreign bodies, a persistent infection, a non-degradable pathogen that can cause persistent inflammation, or an overactive immune system response.  These can kick the immune system into high gear lasting from several months or even years.  The outcomes of chronic inflammation can be the destruction of the tissue, thickening and scarring of connective tissue, and death of cells or tissues. 

Diseases and conditions associated with chronic inflammation include asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and chronic hepatitis.  Chronic or long-term inflammation can result from:

  • Failure to eliminate whatever was causing the acute inflammation.
  • An autoimmune response where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
  • A chronic irritant of low intensity that persists.
  • Dysbiosis, an imbalance of bacteria or fungi in the gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Stress.  Constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises cortisol levels, creating inflammation.
  • Environmental toxins.  Pollutants and toxic metals contribute to inflammation.
  • Diet and lifestyle.  Too much fat, sugar and processed foods, obesity, inactivity and poor sleep quality can all increase inflammation. 

Chronic internal inflammation can remain undetected as there are no visible symptoms such as pain and swelling.  Results of chronic inflammation may include:

Low grade inflammation is a factor in most health issues.  Studies show that the risk of heart disease and cancer are modifiable by our lifestyle choices which includes the foods we choose to eat each day. With every bite we take, we’re either balancing the pro- or anti-inflammatory compounds in the body, or tipping the scale to one end. 

Many common foods in the Standard North American Diet can cause or exacerbate inflammation in the body.   Foods known to cause inflammation include:

  • Fast foods.  Processed, packaged and prepared foods top the list of inflammatory foods due to harmful oils, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and food additives. 
  • Sugar.  Excessive sugar intake is linked to increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. 
  • Common vegetable cooking oils.  Common vegetable cooking oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids and dismally low in omega-3 fats.  A diet consisting of a highly imbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio promotes inflammation and breeds inflammatory diseases like heart disease and cancer.
  • Trans fats.  Trans fats increase levels of bad cholesterol while lowering levels of good cholesterol.  They have also been found to promote inflammation, obesity and resistance to insulin, laying the groundwork for degenerative illnesses to take place.
  • Dairy products.  As much as 60% of the world’s population cannot digest milk.  Milk is also a common allergen that can trigger inflammatory responses, such as stomach distress, constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, acne, hives and breathing difficulties in susceptible people.
  • Feedlot-raised meats.  Commercially produced meats are fed with grains like soy beans and corn, a diet that is high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids but low in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
  • Processed meats.  Processed meat includes animal products that have been smoked, cured, salted or chemically preserved.  Compounds in meats can cause an immune response that may trigger a chronic low-grade inflammatory response which has been linked to cancer and heart disease. 
  • Alcohol.  Regular high consumption of alcohol has been known to cause irritation and inflammation of the esophagus, larynx and liver. Over time, the chronic inflammation promotes tumor growth and gives rise to cancer at the sites of repeated irritation.
  • Refined grains.  Refined grains are devoid of fiber and vitamins and full of empty calories.  Refined grains have a higher glycemic index than unprocessed whole grains.  Consistently consumed, they can hasten the onset of degenerative diseases such as cancer, coronary disease and diabetes. 
  • Artificial food additives.  Artificial food additives such as aspartame and monosodium glutamate can trigger inflammatory responses in people already suffering from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • Food allergies.  Repeated long-term exposure to foods that irritate can cause inflammation and lead to chronic disease.

It’s become increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses.  “Cooling the fires of hidden inflammation may be the most important thing you can do for your long-term health and well-being,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, editor in chief of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 

Up next:  Part II: Reducing inflammation with supplements, diet and lifestyle changes.