Most people know inflammation as a painful swelling of an area. Inflammation actually originates in the immune system as a defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, toxins and injury. When the body detects a threat, white blood cells and chemicals are sent to the afflicted area with the goal of protecting tissues from harm.
Inflammation only becomes harmful if 1) the immune system is reacting improperly to a threat or 2) the presence of a threat is prolonged, causing chronic inflammation that damages tissues.
Specific Causes of Harmful Inflammation
Inflammation is caused either by dietary, environmental or emotional factors. An example of a food that is known to cause inflammation is refined sugar. Consumed in large quantities, this sugar creates an insulin spike in the body. This spike, in turn, puts the immune system on high alert. Consuming a food that one is allergic to will also likely lead to inflammation.
Negative emotions like stress and depression have been linked to inflammation in numerous studies. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov conducted in Indianapolis showed that depressed individuals exhibited unhealthy levels of inflammatory proteins and chemicals in their blood. When the mind is stressed, the brain is stressed; when the brain is stressed, the immune system reacts.
The Effects of Daily Choices
Fortunately, there are a number of natural, safe and simple ways to fight inflammation.
1) Diet can prevent or cause inflammation. The following food components are anti-inflammatory:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids regulate the inflammatory response system. They are found in very high doses in wild-caught salmon and walnuts.
Antioxidants facilitate proper immune system functioning; these are found in a variety of foods, including blueberries and sweet potatoes.
Sulfur is found in onions and garlic that stimulates natural killer- and T- cell production which helps to regulate the immune system.
Cox-2 Inhibitors, like ginger and turmeric, work against inflammation by resisting the production of the COX-2 enzyme. This enzyme is a path that inflammatory chemicals must take to reach their destination area.
2) Supplements are available to those who have trouble incorporating enough anti-inflammatory foods into their diets.
Probiotics are widely hailed for their ability to promote healthy digestive functioning.
Devil’s Claw works in the same way as ginger and turmeric.
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant.
For a more complete list of supplements that help relieve inflammation, see LovetoKnow’s page.
3) Habits play a crucial role in the presence of inflammation. Cigarette smokers are likely to experience inflammation, since the smoke contains VOCs. The introduction of any chemical not produced by the body, such as caffeine or those found in many prescription medications, sends the immune system into distress.
Changing the Diet
Diet is a great place to start when pursuing a natural treatment for inflammation. Making the transition is simple and doesn’t cost any more than a normal food bill.
For recipes tailored to an anti-inflammation diet found on Epicurious.
For the sake of health, altering a few daily choices is fairly easy. It is always important to identify foods and habits that harm and those that heal. Since every body is different, we must be aware of our own systems’ reactions to stimuli and make our own choices.