Take time to stop & smell the flowers.
Most people have more inflammation (what we may call "pro-inflammation reactions") happening than their body really needs. Too much inflammation increases the severity of all those diseases and medical conditions we discussed in Part 1 (few diseases are really free from inflammation's influence), as well as leading some seemingly minor health complaint (such as occasional achy joints or a mild skin rash) into more severe disease categories all together (developing Rheumatoid Arthritis or Ezcema).
High levels of inflammation also lead to other diseases or conditions hopping on for the ride and serve to worsen your overall health (high blood pressure, then coronary artery disease then heart attack). To combat this, one must identify what actions and circumstances lead to more vs. less inflammation.
Inflammatory causes are a lot farther reaching than simple traumas. Most of your body's inflammation actually comes from all those factors in your day to day life that stress you out and make you less healthy overall. These include dietary and exercise choices, as well as pretty much any thing you surround yourself with that exhausts you and makes you irritable and on edge (work? relationships? daily commute?).
And anti-inflammatory helpers include a much larger list than just that Aspirin or Aleve in your medicine cabinet. Every choice you make to lessen stress and strengthen your health are working on your side to decrease inflammation in your body. Calm, nutritious, leisurely dinner with loved ones? Put that in the anti-inflammatory column. Cramming down a burger and cola while fuming about the rush hour traffic you're trapped in? That is upping the inflammatory responses in your body.
So continue to make choices to support your health and lessen your stress.
Lastly, feel free to contact me any time to continue this discussion further. I'm also open to topic suggestions, particularly related to health in the news. Send me an article link, or other topics that have come to your attention, and I look into writing a piece about them here.
Thanks for reading!
Inflammation- you've all heard of it, but few understand what's really going on. It's a lot more than just the swelling that happens after you twist your ankle or slam your finger in the car door. It's a very complex and dynamic interplay of many immunologic compounds interacting with each other in your body- on an almost constant basis.
It all starts with some type of trauma- an injury like listed above, or something a lot more subtle like blood vessels getting stressed out by too much tension (high blood pressure), or areas of the body becoming hypersensitive to invisible particles in the air (allergic reactions like hay fever). What happens then is a directed cascade of immune reactions where some guard molecules alert others to make reaction, and the message keeps getting passed along to more and more immune cells until you start the visible signs of inflammation like swelling or getting itchy eyes.
So is it all bad? Not really. There's a certain low amount of inflammation that is helpful when you really do injure yourself, to prevent overuse or strain of the recently injured area. But as for the rest of the inflammatory reactions we experience day in and day out, it's really better to decrease these as much as possible.
So how do you know if you have more inflammation than your body needs? Well, there's some well established medical conditions that will always be associated with high levels of inflammation. Some listed above are allergies (hay fever, allergic skin reactions/ ezcema, etc), high blood pressure (or having a strong family history of high blood pressure) and all other forms of Coronary Artery Disease signal high levels of inflammation as well as some other common conditions like asthma, migraines/ tension headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, problems with proper bowel function such as colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome- the list goes on and on.
In Part 2, we will talk more about inflammation, what it leads to and what can increase and decrease your body's amounts.
Please leave any comments or questions below, or see the Contact section to write me a note.