Inflammation - Good and Bad?

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Inflammation can be both a positive and negative factor to our health. Many people fail to see why it is beneficial to our health, and only focus on ridding the body of it.

Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response of swelling to any injury or attack in which it is under, or in other words, a stimulus.1 It is the body’s way of protecting itself against damage to healing wounds or invading pathogens. Though, too much inflammation can also potentially be an issue in our health.1

When inflammation occurs, the white blood cells in the body release inflammatory mediators such as the tissue hormones histamine and bradykinin.1 These hormones are responsible for expanding the previously narrow blood vessels, causing blood to easily access and rush to the affected area.1 This produces the redness and warmth often associated with inflammation.2

There are two forms of inflammation.

The first one being acute. Acute inflammation typically lasts around a few hours or a few days, while the body is trying to heal itself.3

The second form is known as chronic inflammation, which is more long term, and is typically where the issues associated with inflammation come from.3

How does it help?

The body produces an inflammatory response for the very reason of protecting itself from harm. By causing swelling, it is making its very own plaster to the wound. This can help the body to avoid further injury and infection, fight off pathogens, and promote healing.4

By increasing the vascular permeability, antibodies have an easier time accessing the target and help to fight infection.4

Studies have even found that an increase of inflammatory signals activate two proteins that are crucial to the maintenance of blood sugar levels in those that are diabetic and obese.5

The Bad

Having too much of a good thing is not always good. Too much inflammation at once can lead to destruction of tissues, as some of the enzymes released deteriorate cell tissues.6 On top of deteriorating cell tissue, it is also known to cause too much swelling. This can be very serious, especially when occurring in the head, near the brain. This can make it difficult for blood to travel to the brain and can cause serious damage, and in some cases, death.6

Pain can also occur as a result of inflammation. The abnormal stretching and contorting of the tissues can bring unwanted pain.6

Chronic inflammation can lead to a number of diseases, as many of the factors known to cause chronic inflammation also cause chronic disease such as bacterial, viral, and pathogenic factors.7 Inflammation creates reactive oxygen and nitrogen species; these cause oxidative damage to cells, which is a cause of chronic disease.7 Chronic inflammation can produce an over active production of cytokines (substances that are secreted by cells in the immune system, affecting other cells), which can lead to inflammatory disorders.7

Cardiovascular disease is one that is know to be often caused by inflammation, as it creates oxidized cholesterol from sugars and fats; this type of cholesterol can irritate the tissues in which it is living, such as the lining of the arteries, which can lead to narrowing of the arteries.8

How Do I Stop Chronic Inflammation From Occurring?

Diet can have a large impact on either raising or reducing the inflammation level in the body.9

Processed foods with refined sugars and oil tend to produce excess inflammation.10 As these foods can be quite difficult to avoid, there are many foods that are high in anti-inflammatories which can help to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation.10

Turmeric is known to be a great source of anti-inflammatory.8 Curcumin, the compound found in turmeric, has been shown to reduce the anti-inflammatory levels by reducing the extent of the catabolic effects in cartilage.11 This can be especially beneficial for those with arthritis.

Other spices in the turmeric family, such as ginger, cinnamon, cranberry, garlic, cloves, quercetin and papain & bromelain are also very high in anti-inflammatory properties.8

Inflammation shouldn't be a feared, as it is necessary to wound healing and to recover from sickness.1 However, chronic inflammation can be dangerous and cause damage to the body.2 By eating foods high in anti-inflammatory properties, you are reducing the extent to which the inflammation will occur, as well as protecting your body against the damage caused from the swelling.

 

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