There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is the body’s response to tissue damage, an infection or perhaps a foreign body, such as a splinter. These conditions would not heal without inflammation. Take the example of cutting your finger whilst chopping. The goal is to bring white blood cells to the site of tissue damage to protect against foreign substances. The chemicals from the white blood cells help the expansion of tissues to allow more blood to the area, carrying immune cells, hormones and nutrients. This expansion also allows for fluid to enter, resulting in swelling. Nerve endings are stimulated which then causes pain. The typical signs associated with inflammation are swelling, redness, heat, loss of function and pain. These are only relevant for damage that has occurred close to the skin. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.
An inflammation is not always a helpful response of the body. Chronic inflammation is long-term, occurring in wear and tear conditions such as osteoarthritis and autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease is where the body initiates an immune response to healthy tissues, even though there are no invading organisms to fight. The white blood cell swarm but have nothing to do and nowhere to go and start attacking healthy tissue, cells and internal organs. An auto-immune disease can attack almost any part of the body. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, an over-active immune system causes inflammation of the lining of the joints.
Other times, the threat is real but we do not feel the inflammatory response. This persistent inflammation has been linked to a number of ailments such as the case of heart disease. This inflammation can be persistent and has been associated with possible habitual or environmental factors. Some risk factors associated with chronic inflammation include obesity, increasing age, and a high saturated fat intake.
Some Inflammation Triggers
* Excess weight
* Lack of exercise
* Stress/High anxiety
* Polluted air
* Lack of sleep
* Excessive alcohol consumption
* Poor Diet including high sugar and saturated fat intake
A natural approach to controlling inflammation
Know what to eat! Nobody's perfect and you have to treat yourself, but having a basic awareness of foods make it into the shopping trolley can literally save some pain!
Fill your shopping trolley up with watermelon, onions, garlic, leeks, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, green tea, grapes, berries, omega-3 rich foods (salmon, walnuts), olive oil, whole grains spices including ginger, TURMERIC, rosemary and nutmeg. By eating predominately healthy foods, you are also restricting your calorie intake which studies have shown to be a powerful protection against inflammation.
Did you know some seaweeds have strong anti-inflammatory effects? Fucoidans naturally occur in brown seaweeds, and have been used for centuries in Japan and Korea but are only mildly known in Australia. Try wakame seaweed raw or in some cooking of soups or stir-fries or try supplementation of fucoidan capsules.
Research has shown that a Mediterranean and vegan/vegetarian diet can help curb inflammation. Arthritis Australia mentions the vegan diet (yes, I was suprised too!) in light of some solid research. More details will be covered in future blog posts!