Have you ever had a condition ending in ‘itis’? If so, you’ve experienced inflammation. “Itis” is used in pathological terms that denote inflammation of an organ. For example, arthritis is an inflammation of your joints, neuritis is an inflammation of your nerves, and gastritis is an inflammation of your stomach. Generally speaking inflammation serves a purpose to help the body heal, but there are two types and one is not looking so good in the long run.
Types of Inflammation
1. Acute inflammation is characterized by the redness, heat, swelling, and pain that is the immune system’s normal response to infection or injury. Immune cells congregate at the site so that they can overwhelm and dispose of infectious organisms or debris from injury. Thus healing takes place.
2. Low-grade, chronic, and “systemic” inflammation occurs with more frequency and sometimes goes unnoticed. This is the inflammation that has been discussed in numerous health articles of late.
Reason to Be Concerned
The reason you hear so much about low-grade, chronic inflammation is that it may underlie a kind of “unified field” explanation of disease. In fact, several researchers now believe that low-grade inflammation is associated with everything from heart disease and diabetes to Alzheimer’s and arthritis, and may even be the cause of most chronic diseases. This is not an entirely new theory. Inflammation was implicated in cancer many years ago.
Anytime I have a client who is concerned about inflammation, I recommend they go to their primary care physician to get a CRP test.
Do I have Inflammation?
There is an easy way to test for inflammation and I recommend every client get the test when they go to their physician. It is called a CRP test and it has been in use for some time. It costs less than $50 and can be done when your cholesterol levels are checked.
How the test works…
Since inflammation can prompt the liver to produce a protein in the blood known as C-reactive protein (CRP), elevated levels of CRP often accompany or signal an increased risk of heart attack and stroke or other chronic diseases such as diabetes. Some speculate that a high CRP level may responsible for poor heart health as many people who get heart attacks have normal blood cholesterol levels and no other identifiable risk factors. Scientists have been searching for the missing pieces of this puzzle, and inflammation might be one of them. It might even be the most important piece.
How to Put Out the Fire?
There are many things you can do to lessen the detrimental effects of chronic, low-grade inflammation.
1. Limit sugar and processed foods. Sugary foods can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal region, which can actually create a toxic environment in the body and trigger inflammatory responses.
2. Consider a multivitamin. A study released in the American Journal of Medicine found that multivitamins are a great natural inflammation-fighting tool, which is essential for health and longevity as inflammation is emerging as a major cause of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and aging in general. My top multivitamin recommendations are here.
3. Consider a food allergy and food intolerance test. Many people are suffering from food sensitivities to gluten, soy, milk, wheat, dairy, etc. and don’t know it. One of my clients suffered from high levels of fatigue or GI disorders and after getting tested, he discovered his body was highly sensitive to wheat gluten.
4. Consider fish or krill oil. Fish oil and now krill oil are a good idea. Studies link the omega-3 fatty acids in fish and fish oil to reduced inflammation in the body, and reduced morning stiffness and pain in the joints. Fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, sardines, and mackerel, are highest in omega-3s. My recommendations are here for krill oil and here for fish oil.
5. Use olive oil. According the Berkeley Wellness, research has found that a compound in extra-virgin olive oil called oleocanthal also helps reduce inflammation. The stronger-tasting the oil, the moreoleocanthal it contains. To add olive oil to your diet without piling on extra calories, try using it in place of other fats, such as butter or margarine.
6. Consume Fruits and Vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, compounds found in many plants. Like omega-3 fatty acids, these compounds may help decrease enzymes that cause inflammation in the body. Some fruits and vegetables that are especially potent include tart cherries, apples, citrus fruits, red and yellow onions, shallots, ginger, potatoes, and strawberries. For more ideas, check out the Real Food Therapy Guide.
7. Find a healthy outlet. Healthy outlets refer to effective ways of dealing with frustration and anger. Outlets such as journaling, talking with a counselor or therapist, exercising, hiking in nature, meditating, etc. are beneficial for offsetting inflammation in the body. Research from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina showed that men with high levels of hostility, anger and depression show increases in a key marker of inflammation over time, which may put them at greater risk of heart disease.
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