Myths About Inflammation
I’m going to write a quick post about inflammation because so many myths exist about it. To do the topic of inflammation justice will require multiple posts, so I will focus on what inflammation is and bust several myths in this post. Please read Easy Ways to Avoid & Reverse Inflammation for tips on addressing inflammation. The following myths exist about inflammation:
- Inflammation is Always Bad: The truth is that inflammation is vitally important to survival. Inflammation is a protective response to cellular damage and we could not live without it. Inflammation serves to set off a cascade of healing processes that result in faster healing and which actually protect tissues … at first. If left unchecked, inflammation ultimately leads to cell death, but is essential for healing in its early stages. Inflammation is typically a response to invading bacteria, viruses or allergens; infection; irritants; toxins; trauma or injury to tissues or cells; etc. Inflammation sets off a cascade of reactions and serves to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to cells, increase fluid levels in cells in order to dilute toxins affecting the cells, increase the permeability of vascular tissues (blood vessels) so that the body’s protective antibiotic chemicals can more easily reach the affected cells, creates a network of fibers to trap invading pathogens; and sometimes creates pain to alert the affected person their body has a problem. Each of these processes is vital for healing, and each sends a signal that needs to be responded to immediately.
- Inflammation is Always Visible and Always Causes Pain:If you slam your finger in a car door, you can obviously see the inflammation in the swelling and redness the injury produces. This is called “Acute Inflammation” and is typically a temporary reaction to an injury or irritant. However, inflammation is sometimes invisible because it is internal and widespread. Internal inflammation often does not cause pain and therefore goes unnoticed until the inflammation has progressed to the point that it begins to affect cell function. This type of inflammation is often referred to as “Systemic Inflammation” and refers to inflammation that is internal (sometimes external) and which exists in many different body systems.
- Inflammation is Always Limited to One Body Part: As stated above, inflammation can be either acute (such as when you slam your finger in a car door) or systemic, meaning it affects the entire body, inside and outside, head to toe. Systemic inflammation is present in conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and has been implicated in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease and even insulin resistance leading to Type 2 Diabetes. (For information on blood tests that can identify these types of systemic inflammation, please read my post, Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request.
- Diet Has Nothing to Do with Inflammation: You know me well enough by now to know my response is that this is a myth. The fact is that many foods commonly eaten in the SAD (Standard American Diet) are highly inflammatory and some people are able to control and reverse inflammation using diet alone. Please note that the top three inflammatory foods (in my opinion) are white sugar, vegetable oils (corn, soy, safflower, etc.) due to their extremely high levels of inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids, and refined grains. The top three anti-inflammatory foods are those high in anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.), dark leafy greens, and cherries. People who are sensitive to night shade vegetables (peppers, potatoes, egg plant, etc.) often find that eliminating these foods dramatically reduces pain and inflammation levels.
Do you suffer from inflammation? How do you control it? What foods and lifestyle habits do you find either increase or decrease your inflammation and pain levels? Please share!
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