Inflammation is both a cure and a curse. All of us have experienced it at one time or another. As part of our body’s immune response, it’s necessary for healing and that literally makes it essential for survival. But lingering inflammation is something else and it is the most significant cause of death in the world.
The clinical names for inflammation are either “acute” or “chronic.” Acute refers to responses to bacterial infections, viruses, injuries, and medical operations. Chronic inflammation is a persistent autoimmune disease that plays a central role in rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, allergies, and even Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms of acute inflammation progress quickly and, in a short period of time, can become severe. In addition to the symptoms from an infection or injury, such as having a runny nose or a bleeding cut, one will also feel pain and/or some irritation as damaged areas turn red, swollen, and become warmer. The pain or discomfort associated with noticeable inflammation occurs when the body’s arteries expand in order to supply more blood to the damaged region. Also fluid and proteins are increased in the infected areas as the body releases a type of white blood cell called a neutrophil.
In addition to medical treatments that address infections and injuries, there are many relatively effective over-the-counter and even some prescription medications used for suppressing acute inflammatory symptoms during the healing process. But when it comes to chronic inflamation there are no cures, just drugs that suppress the pain and/or swelling.
Chronic inflammatory responses usually develop slowly over a long time. In advanced stages they are diagnosed as autoimmune diseases because the inflammation response is repetitively attacking good tissues, joints, and bones. The symptoms include:
● Body pain
● Constant fatigue and insomnia
● Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders
● Gastrointestinal complications like constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux
● Weight gain
● Frequent infections
Obviously we want to have effective acute inflammatory responses. But we want to avoid chronic responses because chronic inflammation is a key factor behind almost all chronic degenerative diseases. So what are the best ways to prevent chronic inflammation?
● Avoid eating simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, high-glycemic fruit, dried fruit, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and foods known to often host fungi and mycotoxins.
● Restrict foods high in Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). An anti-inflammatory diet will have very close to an equal balance of Omega-6s and Omega-3s. Omega-6 EFAs are inflammatory and Omega-3 EFAs are anti-inflammatory. A 1:1 EFA 6 to 3 balance is associated with suppressing autoimmune diseases.
● The most anti-inflammatory foods are grass-fed meats, Omega-3 meats, wild-caught seafood, and green leafy vegetables.
● In moderation other selected vegetables, low glycemic fruit such as avocados, and macadamia nuts are okay. But be mindful of anti-nutrients.
● Take a fish oil supplement. Use herbal supplements such as ginger, turmeric, cannabis, hyssop, and Harpagophytum procumbens. They have anti-inflammatory or anti-fungal properties, however caution should be taken for using some herbs like hyssop and cannabis.
● Minimize the intake of antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and antacids because they can harm the microbiome in the gut causing inflammation in intestinal walls known as leaky gut which in turn releases toxins and triggers chronic, body-wide inflammation.
● Exercise regularly and maintain an optimum weight. This reduces low-grade systemic inflammation while decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones.
● Sleep (ideally at least 7 to 8 hours) to help stimulate human growth hormones and testosterone in the body to rebuild itself.
● Stress Less: Chronic psychological stress is linked to greater risk for depression, heart disease, and the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response and normal defense. Yoga and meditation are helpful.
Rarely does a poor health condition have almost total unanimity throughout the scientific community and amongst Internet commentators for suppressing it. When it comes to chronic inflammation, diet usually comes first with the recommended foods following these standards:
● Low Glycemic
● Nutrient Diverse and Dense
● Have close to a 1:1 balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs).
After diet comes sleep, exercise, and meditation. Ironically, the vast majority of people dealing with chronic inflammatory diseases do not follow the universally accepted dietary recommendations. They just keep doing what they’ve always done. I find that sort of amazing.
To your health.
Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.
Don’t miss these links for additional reading:
Understanding Inflammation from Harvard Health Publishing
Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases by Artemis Simopoulos, M.D.
Understanding How Omega-3 Dampens Inflammatory Reactions from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
How to Optimize Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio by Kris Gunnars, Bsc at Healthline
Fighting Fungus and Inflammation from Doug Kaufmann’s Know the Cause
5 Benefits of a Healing Diet for Reducing Inflammation by Dr. Jockers
A Review of Fatty Acid Profiles and Antioxidant Content in Grass-fed and Grain-fed Beef by Cynthia A Daley, et al.
Does Cholesterol or Inflammation Cause CHD? By Ted Slanker
Crohn’s Disease: Diet Dominates by Ted Slanker
Get Your Marijuana Here! By Ted Slanker