What is inflammation? Inflammation is part of a complex response of the tissues of the body to harmful stimuli such as irritants, damaged cells, bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites or pathogens. It is a protective response that involves protector cells collectively called the immune system. It involves blood vessels and bacterial poisons called endotoxins which, obviously, are harmful to the body.
Platelets are essential components in the blood which are actually cell fragments that become activated, changing their shape, in response to injury signals. They are the parts of our blood that stimulates blood clotting to prevent us from losing blood when we are injured.
Researchers now know that platelets are also a very important part of the inflammatory process because they shed selective molecules that directly activate inflammation inside the vascular system and they, also, produce an array of inflammatory mediators such as growth factors, adhesion molecule that attach cells together to close up a wound and cytokines which are key components of inflammation. Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that enhance cell-to-cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells toward sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. So, as you can see, there are many faces associated with inflammation.
Inflammation is not always a bad thing because it protects us from the damage of a traumatic event. It protects us against invaders. You cut your finger—you know what happens, right? The blood appears, germs spread, and the inflammatory response starts ushering in Natural Killer (NK) cells, fibrin, and fibrinogen etcetera. This is good because the body is going through the process of healing a cut! The problem rears its ugly head when the same inflammation response kicks in when there is NO invader which is not good because that is when the disease process begins.
When you combine small episodes of damage with an inflammatory diet of processed sugar products, high glycemic carbohydrates, endocrine disruptors (such as plastic bottles, non-stick pots and pans), antibacterial soaps, industrial chemicals, low protein and vegetable intake, inadequate sleep, toxic substances in household cleaning products and personal care products, dehydration, lack of exercise, you basically get a huge mess called inflammation.
Inflammation controls our lives in many unproductive debilitating ways. The majority of inflammatory diseases start in the intestines with an autoimmune reaction that will progress into a systemic inflammation traveling throughout the body! If you are dealing with obesity, pain, peripheral neuropathy issues, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, migraines, ADD/ADHD, or even cancer—-you are dealing with inflammation. The question becomes, how do we eliminate it?
The intestines should be the primary area to address in order to get a handle on managing and/or eliminating the inflammation. You intestines are made up of a very large detailed semi-porous lining. The surface area of your gut can cover approximately two tennis courts when stretched out flat! The amount of permeability fluctuates as it responds to different chemically mediated conditions.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have a deadline to meet and time is running out. You get a phone call and the conversation is very upsetting. At that point your adrenal glands will inject cortisol into your system in order to combat the stress. When your cortisol levels are elevated due to stress your intestinal lining becomes more porous. Then, when you sit down to eat, the porous intestinal lining allows partially undigested food, toxins, viruses, yeast and bacteria to pass thru the intestines and gain access to the bloodstream. This is known as leaky gut syndrome. When the internal lining is repeatedly damaged due to reoccurring leaky gut, damaged cells called microvilli become unable to do their job properly. They become unable to process and utilize the nutrients and enzymes that are vital to proper digestion. Eventually, digestion is impaired and the absorption of nutrients is negatively affected. As more exposure occurs, your body initiates an attack on these foreign invaders by responding with inflammation, and allergic reactions among other symptoms. This can overburden the immune system leading to the development of disease due to the inflammatory triggers continuously cycling through the blood affecting your cells, connective tissue, organs, organ systems, joints, nerves and muscles.
Here is a list of disease states that have a relationship with inflammation:
- Allergy – 4 Immune Mediated Types plus Sensitivities. Caused by inflammation.
- Alzheimer’s – Chronic inflammation destroys brain cells.
- Anemia – Inflammatory cytokines attack erythropoietin production
- Ankylosing Spondylitis – Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against joint surfaces.
- Asthma – Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against the airway lining
- Autism – Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions in the brain impacting right hemisphere development.
- Arthritis – Inflammatory cytokines destroy joint cartilage and synovial fluid.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Chronic inflammation causes excessive muscle tension shortening tendons in the forearm and wrist compressing the nerves
- Celiac – Chronic immune mediated inflammation damages intestinal lining.
- Crohn’s Disease – Chronic immune mediated inflammation damages intestinal lining
- Congestive heart failure – Chronic inflammation contributes to heart muscle wasting.
- Eczema – Chronic inflammation of the gut and liver with poor detoxification and often antibodies against Transglutaminase-3.
- Fibromyalgia – Inflamed connective tissue often food allergy related and exacerbated by secondary nutritional and neurologic imbalances.
- Fibrosis – Inflammatory cytokines attack traumatized tissue.
- Gall Bladder Disease – Inflammation of the bile duct or excess cholesterol produced in response to gut inflammation.
- GERD – Inflammation of the esophagus and digestive tract nearly always food sensitivity and pH driven.
- Guillian-Barre – Autoimmune attack of the nervous system often triggered by autoimmune response to external stressors such as vaccinations.
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – Autoimmune reaction originating in the gut triggered by antibodies against Thyroid enzymes and proteins.
- Heart Attack – Chronis inflammation contributes to coronary atherosclerosis.
- Kidney Failure – Inflammatory cytokines restrict circulation and damage nephrons and tubules in the kidneys.
- Lupus – Inflammatory cytokines induce an autoimmune attack against connective tissue.
- Multiple Sclerosis – Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against myelin.
- Neuropathy – Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against myelin and vascular and connective tissues which irritate nerves.
- Pancreatitis – Inflammatory cytokines induce pancreatic cell injury.
- Psoriasis – Chronic inflammation of the gut and liver with poor detoxification
- Polymyalgia Rheumatica – Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against muscles and connective tissue.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against joints.
- Scleroderma – Inflammatory cytokines induce an autoimmune attack against connective tissue.
- Stroke – Chronic inflammation promoted thromboembolic events.
- Surgical complications – Inflammatory cytokines slow or prevent (often pre-dating the surgery).
Unfortunately, autoimmune disease is not clinically diagnosable until you have 70% of tissue destruction. You shouldn’t have to wait for that to receive an effective treatment regimen. Those suffering through the early stages of inflammation are usually related to diet. Anyone dealing with inflammation should get a comprehensive evaluation to look at what is causing the inflammation.
Here are 11 simple strategies you can implement to get an upper hand on inflammation:
- Remove or minimize stress from your daily life. Starting a daily meditation practice, for example, can greatly reduce stress. If you find it difficult to quieten your mind on your own, try guided visualization tracks to help you along. (Here is a short 10 minute one on YouTube). Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT or Tapping can be of great benefit. There are also several wonderful breathing techniques that take less than 10 minutes which can have significant impacts on stress reduction..
- Maintain regular and proper exercise. Try to create a routine of 3 – 4 times a week. High intensity interval training is great for those who have limited time. Walking is another wonderful stress reducing activity especially if walking in nature. A recently published study “strongly suggest(s) that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods and ultimately stress.
- Get adequate amounts of sleep (Between 7-9 hours). The quality of your sleep is also important. Turn off and unplug any electrical appliances as well as turning off your phone can help. These emit electromagnetic disturbances that can mess with your sleep cycle. Also consider getting black out curtains as the most regenerating sleep occurs in complete darkness.
- Stabilize your blood sugar. Stabilizing your blood sugar is best done by sticking to a low glycemic diet. Stay away from refined carbohydrates such pasta, white rice, white potatoes, breads etc… also be sure to add good fats into your daily diet such as avocadoes, raw nuts, seeds, and unrefined coconut oil.
- Create conditions of love, appreciation and a positive mental attitude. There are many ways to do this. For example, spend 15-20 minutes daily reading something positive. Some great books that we like are: Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Psycho-cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, The Dash by Linda Ellis, As A Man Thinketh by James Allen and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Another idea is to write down 5 things that you are grateful for EVERY DAY! Don’t miss… especially when you don’t feel like it. Those days are the most important days.
- Maintain a proper intestinal flora with friendly bacteria. Consume “cultured” foods daily such as raw sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables (Here are some easy recipes). Live yogurt or Kefir and Kombucha are also packed with friendly bacteria. Finally, consider taking a powerful probiotic supplement such as this one.
- Supplement your diet with Omega-3 fish oil with Vitamin D. This essential fatty acid has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation in the body. Make sure you choose a high quality omega 3 supplement as fish oils can be rancid and contain heavy metal toxins. The best way to ensure this is to make sure your brand is NSF and GMP certified. We use this brand for this very reason.
- Supplement your diet with a Plant Matrix Vitamin/Minerals supplement. Be sure that it contains the complete range of B vitamins. B vitamins supply the co-enzymes necessary for the body to keep cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) within normal ranges, therefore, keeping stress at bay. Upwards of 95% of all vitamin and mineral supplements on the market today are derived from synthetic sources such as petroleum and coal tar. These have been shown to have little to no effect and may even be harmful to your health in the log term. It is important that the supplement you choose is Whole Food/Food Matrix/Plant Matrix and is GMP and NSF certified. Here is what we recommend.
- One of the most important supplements we use with our patients is a Patented Plant Polysaccharides Formulation. This has been shown in independent studies to support the immune system and proper organ function, support proper digestive system function and promote gastrointestinal health. It has also been shown to decrease irritability.
- Eat plenty of organic vegetables and fruit. Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants, enzymes and phytonutrients that support the body’s acid/alkaline balance. This is important when wanting to reduce inflammation as it wards off free radical damage that is a huge contributing factor in inflammation.
- Cleanse your mind, appreciate yourself and believe in yourself. I know this can sound airy fairy but it is important to have a positive self-image as this will enable the body to produce natural opioids that are 10 times stronger than morphine. These endorphins have a very powerful calming effect on the mind and in the body and therefore support you in reducing your stress levels and ultimately body inflammation.
- Food Fight, Brownell & Horgen
- Guyton’s Medical Physiology
- Healing Foods from the Bible, Ward B
- Introduction to Human Nutrition, Gibney
- Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition
- Lancet Journal
- Nourishing Traditions, Fallon, S
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Balch J, & Balch P
- The Merck Manual 13th Edition