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Everything You Need To Know About Inflammation - What Causes & How to Reduce

By Pamela Wirth

What is Inflammation and What Causes It? 

Inflammation is an important process in the body. But, when it goes out of control, it can lead to many ailments including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, allergies, joint issues, and even cancer.  So how do you reduce inflammation? There are a few things you can do to help your body deal with inflammation more effectively. In this article, we will take a look at the causes of inflammation, how it affects our bodies and how many people work to reduce it.

Everything You Need To Know About Inflammation - What Causes & How to Reduce
Image Credit Pexels

 

What is inflammation

Inflammation is a normal, everyday response of the body to infection or injury. In short, inflammation is a warning system that alerts the immune system when something goes wrong. The normal physiological response (inflammatory response) releases immune cells, white blood cells, and substances ( cytokines) to fight against injury, infection, and illness. It also helps to repair or remove damage. Having an overactive immune system isn’t good for overall health. It can lead to various serious health problems such as allergies, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. For the immune system to work effectively, it needs time to “rest”. Reducing inflammation can be important for longevity because your body doesn't have enough time to repair itself when there are too many infections or injuries that force your body into overdrive mode. When our body's inflammatory response lasts only for a few days, scientifically it is named acute inflammation and when it takes a longer duration, it's called chronic inflammation. We will discuss more of these below.

 

Types of inflammation

Inflammation can be Acute ( short-term) or Chronic (long-term). 

Acute inflammation: Acute inflammation response acts to heal the body from inflammation ( short-term) caused by an injury to the body like minor laceration, cold, fever, etc. The purpose of this type of response is tissue repair and resolution of infection/injury. For example, if we cut our finger or any part of the body gets infected with a virus, Immediately our white blood cells start flooding and provide protection. Then our body sends inflammatory cells to heal that injury. Some acute inflammation include warmth, redness, swelling, etc. but these are for a relatively short time, lasting only a few hours or days.

 

Chronic inflammation: Chronic Inflammation (or long-term ) is one of the causes behind various disorders and diseases such as autoimmunity, cancer, and heart disease. It also contributes to inflammation and immune issues such as allergies and asthma. When our body continuously sends inflammatory cells but we have no outside danger, the signals incorrectly fire and lead to chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation may come with pain, discomfort and potentially lead to vocal, motor and mood challenges.  This type of inflammation is serious and leads to more complicated disorders and diseases.

 

What happens when you have inflammation 

When the body is injured, our genes related to infection or injury will release inflammatory mediators that include histamine and bradykinin hormone. These hormones will create small blood vessels and help the tissue become wider and allow more blood flowing to reach the injured tissue. This process will make the inflamed area feel hot and turn red. Through this process, cytokines chemicals will be released and will be responsible for tissue repair and proper immune system function. These cytokines appear to help with wound healing, speeding the recovery of some autoimmune disorders, and also can fight against some cancers. Additionally, sometimes the immune system allows more fluid to enter the injured tissue that makes the area swollen. Though this swelling goes away after a while, when this fluid is transported out of the injured tissue it feels pain. 

However, what if our cytokines are turned down or off? 

This is where chronic inflammation comes into the picture. Acute inflammation can be treated with tools such as over the counter medicine or certain herbs or by removing the inflammatory causes. While these methods can help in treating chronic inflammation, deeper analysis and testing along with lifestyle changes and time are often required. 

 

Why reducing inflammation is so important

There are almost 1000 chemical compounds in the air today. Among them, over 250 can be found in high concentrations inside of your home! These chemicals have effects on our bodies at low levels. What happens when you keep exposing yourself to these contaminants? Your immune system gets confused. Very often, your body is trying to help keep you healthy. But when it's constantly subjected to toxins, the immune system gets confused and starts attacking itself. This leads to many health problems including allergies, mood disorders and autoimmune disorders. These health issues are an important part of our focus because they can cause your immune system to overreact and you don’t feel 100%.

Getting rid of inflammation is called reducing or eliminating chronic disease culprits like environmental toxins, inflammatory causing foods, inflammation (from infections), hormonal imbalance, enzymes that can damage your organs, and many other factors. 

 

Signs of inflammation

When we face inflammation in the body, acute or chronic, we need to identify and overcome them quickly. Here are the main signs of inflammation:

What causes inflammation

Inflammation is an important immune response that does not always have to be harmful. With the right conditions, our bodies can utilize inflammation to help fight off infections or heal damaged tissue while also keeping us free from harm. Inflammation often starts when one of the following scenarios occurs:

How to reduce inflammation

Inflammation isn’t something you can feel or see, it secretly damages the body without even knowing. So taking steps to reduce inflammation is essential. How to do that? Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, and a good lifestyle can help us to reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of severe illness and promote overall health and wellness. Here are a few ways to reduce inflammation.

 

Anti-inflammatory foods: Foods that we usually eat may not necessarily be anti-inflammatory. Food such as high-fat meat, whole grain flour mixtures & grains which contain sticky gums - likely contain inflammatory sugars for instance, wheat flour bread saturated fats & trans fats that are unhealthy foods. So before we eat them we should check the ingredients and look for foods that come from non-inflammatory sources found in nature. Anti-inflammatory foods contain polyphenols which reduce inflammation at a molecular level without adding to the calorie count. 

 

Swap the coffee with Green tea: If green tea isn't in your diet, include it. If you are drinking coffee, perhaps swap two cups of it with green tea. Green tea and coffee are both healthy and effective. Green tea leaves have polyphenols that are anti-inflammatory compounds and very helpful to fight off free radicals damage and further inflammation.  Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock has found 4-6 cups of Green tea can help you to inhibit stress and also inflammation. So try to drink more green tea, but don’t totally remove coffee. Coffee is also one of the anti-inflammatory properties, it's good for your heart and helps to keep you younger. 

 

Avoid processed foods: It is important to avoid processed foods. Foods that are highly processed include many thousands of different chemicals, preservatives, and artificial dyes. Additionally, some report that by avoiding high fructose corn syrup, they avoid brain fog.

 

Moderate Exercise & Yoga: Many studies have shown that 20 minutes of regular exercise 5 days a week can reduce the risk of chronic inflammation due to obesity and overweight conditions. Moderate exercise like brisk walking with friends or pets helps our brains function better by activating various receptors associated with increased cognitive functions, respiratory functions, and immunity functions. Another way to reduce inflammation is doing yoga. If you do 70-90 minutes of yoga twice in a week it will lower the interleukin-6 level and c-reactive protein, these two are key inflammatory markers. Yoga is also reported to help in minimizing stress levels.

 

Some good spices: Spices such as black pepper, turmeric, ginger,  coriander, cumin aren’t the only ingredients to spice up the food, they have anti-inflammatory power that makes your body process faster. Additionally, curcumin reduces the production of anti-inflammatory viruses. Spices are flavor and health boosters. 

 

Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress and helps in weight loss. This dietary pattern involves short-term spikes in energy during which time we stop eating whole foods and only drink liquids such as water, lemon juice, or coffee. The theory is that intermittent fasting will cause the cells to stop bursting and become more efficient in how they handle stress. You can also schedule an eating plan and follow that to reduce the risk of long-lasting inflammation, diabetes, cancer, blood sugar, and severe disease.

 

Good sleep: Sleep is also an essential body function. Our brain needs it so much and its oxygen level increases significantly while you are asleep giving the neurons better nutrition for repair purposes. A night of good sleep can help in reducing inflammation. Work to carve out 7-9 hours of sleep per night. 

Manage stress: You must manage your stress levels through exercise, meditation, reading mindless books you like (fiction don’t read too much), social activity, travel, and nature. Getting a good night's sleep is also important as well! Managing stress will reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease.

Giving up an anti-inflammatory lifestyle: Late-night sleep, eating late at night, smoking, alcohol, refined sugars can be the reason for inflammation. 

How to treat inflammation

Form a healthy diet and lifestyle habits.  If it's acute inflammation it will likely improve with healthy habits, but it's chronic inflammation you will need greater support. Supplement support providing additional nutrition can be one choice including supplements with Omega-3 supplements and/or turmeric and/or frankincense. 

 Not only does omega-3 boost the immune system, but it also regulates inflammation after skin or other tissues have been injured. The following qualities are indicative of omega 3 essential fatty acids:

Final thoughts

Understanding inflammation can be an important piece in overall health and wellness including what it is, what causes it, signals, and how to reduce it. Omega-3 supplements can be an additional tool to help you in fighting inflammation.