07 Feb Inflammation – Friend and Foe
by, Melenie Dunn, NMD – Prolean Wellness
Inflammation has a bad reputation but it is really just misunderstood. Inflammation is the first line of defense by the body’s immune system in response to something damaging or threatening to the body. For example, if you were exposed to an infectious agent or if you were injured in a car accident, the body would initiate an inflammatory cascade meant to bring white blood cells and certain nutrients and generally enhance its ability to heal from the offense. However, sometimes the offense is constant. It can go on for months, even years. This is when inflammation becomes chronic, and this is not a good thing.
There are a seemingly infinite number of causes of chronic inflammation. There is hardly a person alive today who is not subject to chronic inflammation. Some causes are obvious and well-known, while others are more surprising. The obvious causes include chronic stress, pain, pathogenic organisms like staph or E. coli, smoking and alcohol. Some lesser known causes of chronic inflammation include dehydration, excessive toxic metals like lead or mercury, excessive exposure to electromagnetic forces, food sensitivities, excessive simple sugars and grains and insulin resistance.
When a person has been inflamed for months or years, they can begin to develop symptoms and even conditions. That person may even believe these symptoms or conditions are just a normal part of aging. Be aware…. The effects of chronic inflammation are common to aging but not a requirement of aging. For a few examples, those effects include arthritis, gout, digestive disorders such as reflux disease, respiratory disease such as asthma, degeneration of the texture and elasticity of skin, headaches, depression, pain as well as obesity and types 2 and 3 diabetes. Over time, this constant state of inflammation basically leads to a thickening of the blood called hypercoagulability. Hypercoagulable blood has a harder time delivering nutrients and oxygen to tissues. Red blood cells are more prone to clumping together. Of course, tissue becomes damaged and there is an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
For a person just trying to lose a few (or many) extra pounds of fat, inflammation can be a real problem. It can prevent fat loss and hinder wound healing. If you have added weight-training to your program, it can take longer to repair those microscopic tears in the muscle. Those tears are a necessary step in the process to build new muscle but inflammation interferes so you may experience longer periods of achiness, sore muscles and fatigue in the beginning. Fat cells can be triggered to themselves produce inflammatory markers, which at worst can lead to developing type 2 diabetes. The presence of certain pathogens in the gut can enhance that inflammatory response by fat cells.
If fat cells are busy producing inflammatory markers, then they are not producing leptin. Leptin is that miraculous hormone which reduces the sensation of hunger, stimulates the release of fatty acids from fat cells and reduces fat storage so your cells have a chance to burn off that fat instead. Then, to top it off, inflammation is also regulated in part by cortisol. Cortisol is that hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. With chronic stress, the body loses sensitivity to cortisol so it over-produces it, which is another cause of chronic inflammation. Basically, chronic inflammation slows down any effort to lose fat, to improve your health and well-being and to feel better in general.
Don’t worry… There are as many ways to reduce inflammation are there are ways to cause it. Several supplements will help on this front: Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, fish oil, MSM, probiotics, ginger, turmeric and betaine are all clinically effective at reducing inflammation. Certain foods and spices such as cucumbers, dark leafy greens, lemons, dark chocolate, kefir, beets, sauerkraut and milk thistle are also effective. A better strategy for minimizing inflammation may be to reduce its sources in your life. Greatly restricting your intake of sugars and starches would be hugely beneficial. Being well hydrated… Exercise, both cardio and weight-bearing… Various methods of stress reduction like mediation and prayer, hiking in nature, journaling, yoga… Achieving an ideal body fat percent… All of these are effective at minimizing or eliminating signs of inflammation, and these are just a few suggestions.
Give yourself a chance to experience yourself at your best. What would that feel like? What would you do to keep that feeling? We at Prolean Wellness are here to help you reach that and keep it.