Everyone knows what inflammation looks like. You sprain your ankle, and it swells, throbs, and usually feels warm to the touch. You curse your clumsiness, put some ice on it, and limp around until the swelling dies down. Unless you severely sprained it, you’re usually back to normal within a few days. But those few days are definitely uncomfortable! Your body lets you know that something is wrong, and you make an effort to let your ankle rest while it heals. That’s the way inflammation is supposed to work. But, unfortunately, these days, a lot of people are walking around with chronic inflammation that doesn’t turn off, and they don’t even know it.
So, what is this silent fire doing to our bodies? There is a growing body of research that links chronic inflammation to a whole host of disease processes, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, parkinson’s, atherosclerosis, autism, multiple sclerosis, cancer, asthma, seasonal allergies, obesity and diabetes. The causative mechanisms all vary slightly depending on the disease process, but the basic pathway is the same. The immune system is activated and responds to a particular location in the body. Because there is no offending organism to fight, the full force of all our immunological cells is brought down on healthy tissue. This leads to damaged cells that either function abnormally, die off entirely, or mutate to become malignant. As this process continues day in and day out, year after year, eventually the organs become so damaged that we see the clinical manifestations of all these chronic diseases. Alzheimer’s patients start becoming forgetful because they can’t make connections to all the parts of their brains, multiple sclerosis patients lose the myelin sheath that allows impulses to be conducted down nerve lines, and cancer patients finally see the results of a mutated cell that’s been fed for years by the increased blood and nutrients brought to the site of the original immune attack. It’s scary to think about, and if modulating this inflammation can play even a partial role in preventing any of these diseases, its worth paying attention to.
There are several causative factors that lead to inflammation. They include environmental toxins, preservatives found in food and vaccinations, excess sugar consumption, imbalanced essential fatty acid consumption, and food allergies. Thankfully, these are all things that we can limit or eliminate in our lives, and that gives us a lot of hope for avoiding these degenerative diseases.
In my upcoming post, I’ll talk more in detail about these factors and how we can reduce our exposure.