Chronic Inflammation, A Deadly Choice
My goal is to answer these questions simply; what is chronic inflammation and is it dangerous? The truth is inflammation is both helpful and dangerous. I hope you will read on to discover the truths, enlighten your habits and even share your thoughts about this subject. This blog post is not medical advice but meant for education on the subject of chronic inflammation. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner before starting any new diet.
When Inflammation is a Good Thing
Your out for an afternoon bike ride. It is a beautiful sunny day. The sun is bright but it is hard to see the road ahead because of the glare. Low and behold it happens. You swerve to avoid a pothole at the last minute and your front tire hits the curb. Over the handlebars you go. Luckily you mostly landed in the soft green grass but as you stand up and look around to make sure that no one saw a thing… you notice a throbbing tight wet feeling on your knee. Yep, you have cut your knee! Automatically without any verbal commands your body starts to send emergency help to the damaged area. You skin and surrounding tissue start to swell and you notice a bruise is already forming. Also you notice the bleeding stops quickly but it is still throbbing and is painful. Your very intelligent body is already healing what has been damaged. The swelling, pain, bruising and even the bleeding are part of ACUTE INFLAMMATION.
Acute inflammation is:
- Temporary in your body
- When the danger passes so does the inflammation
- You return to normal inflammation levels quickly
- It is necessary for good health
Normally without much hoopla your body returns to normal and you notice that you barely even have a scar when the cut heals. But sometimes the “off switch” for healing malfunctions and your body stays quietly in emergency healing mode. You have no symptoms for months. Then you start to notice some pain in your joints. Not just in the knee that you injured but throughout. You take “over the counter” anti-inflammatories to combat the pain but it just keeps getting worse and worse. Unfortunately these are signs of CHRONIC INFLAMMATION.
Chronic Inflammation is:
- When your immune system stays in combat/healing mode
- Your body is churning out white blood cells to fight infection nonstop
- Can last for months and even years
Why is this dangerous? At first there will be no symptoms. You sometimes can’t feel chronic inflammation for months after you have a malfunction. Unfortunately this type of inflammation is interfering with your body’s normal functions and causing some internal stress. It can also destroy tissues and cellular structures. The really bad news is if it goes untreated all that havoc puts you at tremendous risk for diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and even cancer. Uh oh!
The Good News About Chronic Inflammation
Even though scientist can’t pinpoint why your immune system might have a system malfunction, they all agree that you can fight it with a healthy clean diet full of a variety of whole real foods. Let’s take a closer look at how that works, starting with foods to avoid.
If you think you are suffering from chronic inflammation avoid these foods:
- Trans fats that are commonly found in fast foods
- Saturated fats in red meats and dairy
- All processed foods
- Refined carbohydrates like table sugar, refined white and brown sugars
- White flours found in white breads and pasta
These are all safe bets to avoid completely when facing chronic inflammation and in moderation when inflammation levels are more normal.
Eat to Beat Inflammation
More good news, there are delicious ways to beat back chronic inflammation. Eating this list of food on a regular basis will give you the best chance possible to reduce inflammation. I would suggest checking out a comprehensive anti-inflammatory diet. Dr. Andrew Weil has some detailed information about this subject. To get your mind interested in making a change here are few of the top anti-inflammatory foods. Some may shock you!
Food high in Omega 3 fatty acids
- Wild caught salmon
- Wild caught sardines
- Wild caught mackerel
- Organic canola oil (organic to prevent GMO’s)
- Organic soy bean oil (organic to prevent GMO’s)
Fresh or Frozen Organic Fruits and Vegetable
- Plants are packed with antioxidants
- Helps fight and repair inflammation damaged areas
Whole Grains and Legumes
- Provides a perfect source of soluble fiber
- Use brown and not white rice
- Any organic bean fresh or canned
- Avoid large amounts of bread and wheat flour products
- Use Bulger wheat
- Ginger raw or dried
- Garlic raw or dried
- Clove whole or ground
- Cocoa seeds have plant chemicals that fight inflammation
- 80% cocoa or cacao only
- Only small amounts are needed in a week to be effective
- Moderation is necessary when consuming chocolate
- Look for non-dairy recipes like the go2kitchens version
Are you Inflamed?
The only definitive way to determine if you are suffering with chronic inflammation is to be tested. If you are suffering with any autoimmune conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus you likely have chronic inflammation. Remember that chronic inflammation can silently exist so lack of symptoms does not mean that you are not at risk. For example, a head injury, like a concussion, can trigger a inflammatory response that can cause brain swelling. If you do not suffer from any of these autoimmune disorders but have symptoms like these:
- Ongoing, irritating pain in the body (like the joints or muscles)
- Allergies or asthma (especially when they keep getting worse)
- High blood pressure or blood sugar problems
- Ulcers and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (constipation or diarrhea)
- Constant fatigue or lethargy
- Skin problems or red, bloodshot eyes
Chronic inflammation could be a culprit. There is medical testing that can be done to make these determinations. One is the blood test C-reactive protein (CRP). It can be done easily as part of a physical or check-up with your doctor. It will help determine if you are low risk or high risk for chronic inflammation.
Getting your bodies inflammation levels in balance will liberate you. Your energy level can rise, gut health can improve, clearer skin, less allergies, less joint pain and much more. I look forward to seeing how your life improves with simple lifestyle changes.