Stop the Chronic Inflammation epidemic dead in its tracks!
Keep reading and learn what you can do to avoid the damaging effects of this health-robber
Inflammation. As more medical research indicates, chronic inflammation seems to play a role in almost all disease and illness. In fact, many insist that it plays the starring role in diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease…the list goes on and on.
But Inflammation is a Two-Edged Sword
Before we go any further, let’s take a look at the definition of inflammation: the word itself comes from the Latin word “inflammo” which means “I set alight, I ignite.” Inflammation is the body’s first line of defense against injury.
For example, when you bleed, your immune system responds by using inflammation to send white blood cells racing to the wound.
They then release antibodies and destroy any harmful invaders. This release is why the area around the wound becomes warm, swollen and reddish colored. This kind of inflammation is called acute inflammation, also known as local inflammation.
This type of inflammation has three characteristics: it comes on quick, stays in the injured area and usually gets the job done.
Think about it. Without the protection of inflammation, you would not be able to withstand the slightest insult to your body. Inflammation plays a vital, life-saving role in your immune system’s constant battle to keep you healthy.
So What’s the Problem?
Good question! With local inflammation (the kind described above) there is no problem. However, there is another type of inflammation: chronic inflammation, also known as systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation occurs when the inflammation response goes overboard when dealing with a small problem like a minor cut or burn.
This inflammation overload is similar to using a sledgehammer to swat a fly. Once the invader is defeated, the inflammation has done its job and should retreat to await the next challenge. This process is what happens in a healthy body.
However, in the case of chronic inflammation, the chemicals used by the immune system continue to swarm in a feeding-frenzy. They may commit treason and attack your body. This unfortunate turn of events is called an autoimmune disease.
But the autoimmune disease is far from the only consequence of chronic inflammation. Nearly every affliction, insignificant and dangerous, is a result of inflammation. Therefore, inflammation is something you need to be aware of and control.
What You Need to do to Combat This Menace
Surprisingly, defeating the monster of inflammation is not overly difficult or complicated. The first thing you can do to prevent inflammation is to maintain good dental hygiene. Gum disease can result in excess gum bacteria, which can then migrate into your heart’s vessels and travel directly into the heart itself. Once there, inflammation can cause a heart attack.
In ancient Yoga theory, the digestive system was considered “a second brain” and was treated as such. The importance of “the gut” cannot be overstated, and most inflammation usually originates there. The intestines contain a protein called zonulin which controls the crevices and openings in the intestinal lining. Zonulin monitors the entrance of nutrients into your intestines.
When levels of zonulin rise abnormally, they go into overdrive and allow these crevices to open haphazardly and allow tiny bits of food to enter directly into your bloodstream. The result? This undigested food is seen as an invader ready to cause damage.
As mentioned earlier, this causes…you guessed it…inflammation. This IS NOT the area that you want chronic inflammation to run wild. Undigested food creates a perfect environment for diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and celiac disease. These are all due to a “leaky gut syndrome” and inflammation.
To help prevent this from happening to you, watch what you put into your system. Processed, chemically-loaded foods, fast-foods, and excess alcohol are all things to minimize or avoid altogether.
By changing any bad eating habits you may have, your levels of c-reactive protein will drop off in a remarkably short period. This is a beneficial development since c-reactive protein is a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation. The lower its levels, the better.
Don’t forget to keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. This means keeping your consumption of high glycemic foods to a minimum and consider adding blood sugar-controlling spices like cinnamon, garlic, and oregano to the mix.
Omega-6 fatty acids (found in many vegetable oils and non-organic, grain-fed poultry and cattle) and excess red meat intake are both known to increase inflammation. Stay aware of that fact.
Stress, both physical and mental, also contributes to digestive issues. A certain amount of stress is inevitable, but excess stress is debilitating.
To combat this problem, consider beginning a regular exercise routine and make getting a good night’s sleep a top priority. Also, consider meditation. Stress is, of course, impossible to completely erase, and that’s a good thing. Controlled stress can be beneficial. But problems arise when stress levels are off-the-charts.
Hormonal imbalances are yet another area that can affect the level of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Most people are familiar with probiotics and may try to keep their levels of “good” bacteria high by eating certain foods and taking probiotic supplements. Fewer people are aware of prebiotics. That’s regrettable since prebiotics can play a huge role in digestive health.
The Differences Between Probiotics and Prebiotics
Both of these substances are needed, and there are differences between the two. Probiotics are live bacteria found in certain foods and probiotic supplements. The problem with them is this: They are extremely fragile — the heat and acids in our body may destroy them before they can get to work.
Additionally, some people may not like the taste of foods that deliver probiotics (yogurt, sauerkraut and other dairy products) and may not be taking probiotic supplements.
In contrast, prebiotics are particular plant fibers that provide beneficial nutrients directly to the “good” bacteria in the colon and large intestine. Prebiotics are far more durable than probiotics and thus can withstand the heat and acids that destroy probiotics.
Another difference between the two: there are countless types of bacteria in our gut, and probiotics must battle them to deliver its benefits. By contrast, prebiotics can immediately home in on the beneficial bacteria that is already present and provide nourishment to these friendly bacteria.
Still another difference between the two: probiotics are beneficial to people with digestive disorders. But probiotics have not yet been conclusively proven to render health benefits to people in good health. Prebiotics have been medically proven to provide benefits to everyone, healthy or not.
Foods that are rich in prebiotics include onions (both cooked and raw), asparagus, raw wheat bran, and pre-packaged raw banana.
Good food sources of probiotics are cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, kefir (a fermented milk drink), lentils, green peas, chickpeas/hummus, lima beans and kidney beans.
Often, high levels of inflammation can be directly traced to poor eating habits. Here is a list of foods that help you prevent inflammatory problems before they begin:
Leafy, green vegetables. They’re loaded with vitamins: A, C, E, and K. Greens also offer an additional benefit: phytochemicals. Phytochemicals play a crucial role in eliminating toxins from our bodies and promoting liver health. A toxic overload is directly linked to severe diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and accelerated aging.
Broccoli. In addition to being an excellent source of fiber, broccoli is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, choline, potassium, and copper. Also, broccoli helps lower your levels of estrogen since it contains a substance called indole-3-carbinol which acts as a broom that sweeps excess estrogen away.
Beets. This red vegetable is full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that play a critical role in maintaining our bone health: betaine/betalains, folate, uridine, magnesium, copper, manganese, boron, and vitamin C. In addition to strengthening your bones, beets also provide an energy boost. No wonder beets are often referred to as “health and fitness in a jar.”
Tomatoes. Tomatoes are our primary source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that is a valuable ally for men in the battle to prevent prostate cancer. Lycopene has also been linked to a reduction in pancreatic cancer due to its dense concentration of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium, a mineral that most folks do not consume in healthy amounts.
Celery. Celery is another excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Also, celery is an excellent source of fiber and helps prevent dehydration.
Blueberries. Blueberries are a real nutritional powerhouse that does it all: strengthen the immune system, slow down aging, lower cholesterol, boost brain power and support heart health. Many nutritionists feel that if you could only make one change to your diet, blueberries would be the best choice.
Pineapple. Pineapples assist digestion, are anti-inflammatory, deliver protection to your eyes and boost your immune system.
Walnuts. Walnuts are a tasty source of omega-3 fats, the so-called “healthy fats.” They also contain vitamin E, folate, melatonin and other antioxidants. Walnuts are the first choice of snacks for many people, with good reason.
Salmon. Salmon is another great source of healthy omega-3 fats, as well as lean, healthy protein, selenium, potassium, and B vitamins.
Coconut oil. Coconut oil earns its keep by helping your body convert LDL cholesterol (“The bad stuff”) into HDL cholesterol (“The good stuff”). If that weren’t enough reason to add coconut oil to your eating plan, remember that it strengthens the bones, lowers blood pressure and helps memory.
Olive oil. Olive oil is jam-packed with antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and may provide protection from heart attack and stroke.
The Importance of Supplements
Regardless of how meticulous you are in your eating habits, it is tough to consistently obtain the healthy level of both probiotics and prebiotics needed to keep the lid on inflammation.
In addition to probiotic and prebiotic supplementation, also consider taking the following:
Fish oil. This powerhouse nutrient can deliver a wide variety of benefits: ease joint aches and pains, fight depression and exhibit a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the heart; strong enough that the vast majority of cardiologists agree that fish oil is an effective supplement.
Curcumin. This miraculous substance can simultaneously attack several inflammatory areas, including the joints that are pain-wracked from arthritis. Studies have shown that curcumin has been demonstrated to inhibit the molecule NF-kB. Why is this important? Because this molecule is the “switch” that turns on the inflammation gene once it crawls directly into the nuclei of your cells. This knocks out inflammation at the cellular level before it can escape and wreak serious havoc.
Resveratrol. Another hard-working supplement that protects you in many ways, including suppressing inflammation. Resveratrol can assist the T-cells that control your immune system. When these cells fatigue and fail to maintain constant vigilance, inflammation can run wild. As an added benefit, resveratrol works synergistically with curcumin…a dynamic “tag-team”!
Vitamins C and E, along with Boswellia, CoQ10, Bioflavonoids, Licorice and Milk Thistle are all proven anti-inflammatory agents that should not be overlooked.
Don’t Forget the Value of Water
Dehydration affects every single aspect of your body in an unhealthy way. And that includes inflammation. When you are suffering from inflammation, not drinking enough water makes a bad situation worse…far worse.
Dehydration can lead to weight-gain, which can lead to diabetes, which can lead to more inflammation. Stop this vicious circle before it gets going. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.
Remember, inflammation is there for a reason, and in correct amounts, it is a lifesaver.
But when it runs amok, the door is wide open for a parade of health problems that you don’t need. Make these ideas you have just learned a part of your healthy routine.
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