How Inflammation Causes Everything! (mostly)

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Inflammation is a necessary and valuable part of our immune system. Inflammation helps our immune cells to arrive rapidly via the blood network it also restricts movement and swells the tissues as they repair. Chronic long term inflammation increases the risk of developing heart or cardio vascular disease, fibromyalgia, bowel diseases like food intolerance, IBS or IBD Crohn’s disease, muscle pain, and even mood disturbances.

Inflammation and Pain:

Inflammation causes our tissue (muscles) to swell around the effected area causing redness and pain, this could be muscular for those who suffer from fibromyalgia , or in painful skin conditions like hives or eczema inflammation causes that redness and swelling.

When inflammation is triggered it causes the blood to rush to the area once all the immune cells are there to combat the threat/virus/wound the tissues begin to swell think of your lymph glands when you get a cold. short term this is great but long term and we start to starve the tissues of the blood and the oxygen blood carries, this is when pain signals are sent.

There are ways to reduce inflammation via diet with a fiber, EFA and  antioxidant rich diet. Also excluding pro-inflammatory food like red meat and dairy. .

Chronic Inflammation, Conditions and Disease

Chronic inflammation often causes injury or destruction of tissues. This damage leads to other conditions like cancers, heart disease, or Dementia like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, weight gain, mood and behavioral disorders like anxiety and depression. Which is why it is important to stabilize.

Inflammation and weight gain

It is very true that weight gain causes inflammation, however the reverse is also true that inflammation can activate weight gain. Inflammation affects the hypothalamus in the brain causing the brain to become resistant to insulin (the hormone that breaks down blood sugar) this will cause a higher amount of food cravings as the body tries to regain its blood sugar regulation. Inflammation also causes the body to inhibit leptin, this is significant because leptin is our satiety hormone which switch off our hunger.

These two hormones if inhibited can cause weight gain by making us crave sugary carbohydrate foods or by not switching off our hunger.

Gut Health, food intolerance and inflammation

When damage to the inside of the intestine occurs it results in inflammation. This can be from a food intolerance reaction, poor liver function, systemic inflammation or leaky gut.

The intestinal wall is held together by gap junctions, they are like they glue in between the cells of your intestinal wall. Inflammation causes these gap junctions to loosen and change from impermeable and water tight to permeable. This results in food substances crossing the into the blood stream or and triggering an immune response. read more here

The immune response results in inflammation to the gastric wall

The Liver Histamine and Inflammation

The liver clears hormones including histamine from the blood. You may recognise the name histamine from antihistamines which reduce hay fever.

Histamine is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body one of its main roles is to cause inflammation. Inflammation can become rampant in the body if the liver is overburdened and unable to clear histamine as it usually does. The liver can be impacted by foods and beverages because the liver metabolizes the nutrients from our food for instance when we have a high sugar and alcohol intake diet, this can cause the liver an excess of work. When the liver does not complete its function of clearing histamine it causes more histamine in the system and more inflammation.

Inflammation and Cholesterol

Inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease. Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol can accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without sufficient magnesium in the body inflammation results and it is the inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

We have many studies that show that inflammation can cause clotting and heart attacks in people who have low and normal blood levels of cholesterol. This is why reducing inflammation is so important to this case.

Read more here on how magnesium lowers cholesterol

Food and inflammation 

There is controversy around food effecting the Ph of your body. But the evidence which was lacking has now started to show that some foods can cause inflammation. 

Acidic environment in the body and inflammation.

The acid levels in the body change once food is ingested. If your diet has a high a lot of acid-forming food such as meat and dairy, it can contribute to conditions in which inflammation is a key including diabetes, CVD, arthritis, hay fever, asthma, eczema, fatigue, bloating, food intolerance, pain, fibromyalgia, weight gain, and more.

pH levels of the body

Each food has a pH value, which is a scale that measures how acidic or alkaline a fluid or substance is. The pH ranges from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline) with 7 being neutral.

Alkaline foods have a detoxing effect on the body.

Alkaline foods enable the body to regenerate itself instead of deplete it. Alkaline food have a higher nutrient content that helps detoxify the body. These foods are antioxidant rich foods high in fibre and EFA’s.

Acid forming food and its effect on the body-

Some foods produce an acidic environment in the body.

We often think about acidic foods to be things like citrus foods. Lemons for example may taste acidic but they don’t create an acidic state in your body. Where cheese can cause an acidic effect in your body even though it tastes mild.

That’s because it affects the PH balance or our internal acid alkaline balance.
Acidic diets -high in refined sugar, white flour, red or processed meat and diary, often means that the body has to work harder to neutralize its acidic state. Your organs i.e. bloodstream, kidneys, lungs and liver have to regulate your PH balance to keep acid levels under control.

When we have excess acid forming foods our bodies work to neutralize it with a system called “buffering.” One of the ways your body neutralizes or “buffers” acidic foods is by taking calcium and magnesium from your teeth, bones and muscles.

Calcium and magnesium have many functions in your body.

Calcium makes your muscles contract meaning it makes your heart beat as well as bone and teeth creation.

Magnesium is used in over 300 processes in the body from DNA synthesis to mood balance and to promote health blood vessels read more under inflammation and cholesterol.

An acidic diet burden’s the body’s natural calcium sources.

Which is why researchers have noticed populations with higher consumption of dairy has shown to have higher osteoporosis risk.

Stress and inflammation

If you are chronically stimulated (on the go) for most of the day so is your adrenaline and a biproduct of adrenaline cortisol is activated as well.

stress alters the effectiveness of cortisol receptors

Cortisol receptors recognize cortisol release they then trigger a whole lot of metabolic functions but one of the cool functions of cortisol is that it has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Cortisol modulates inflammation by turning inflammation off if it is excess.

This effect however only occurs in the short term. When you are chronically stressed your anti-inflammatory effect from cortisol stops working. This is because the cortisol receptors stop recognizing the cortisol because there is too much, It is a lot like insulin receptors which stop recognizing insulin in diabetes type 2. However when we are chronically stressed our cortisol receptors stop recognizing cortisol.

If we aren’t recognising our cortisol, cortisol isn’t regulating the inflammatory response, this is because the tissues have decreased sensitivity to the hormone. Specifically, immune cells become insensitive to cortisol’s regulatory effect.

Runaway inflammation often occurs in the chronically stressed so wellbeing and stress management are essential.

To reduce pain you have to reduce inflammation – to reduce inflammation you have to reduce cortisol- to reduce cortisol you have to reduce stress.

Inflammation and Mood:

Inflammation is a natural process in the body brought on by an immune reaction however while inflammation is necessary chronic inflammation can cause a predisposition to stress which in turn causes a higher sensitivity to stress and this can turn into a vicious cycle eventually this cycle can trigger depressive moods  

I hope this helps you to understand the mechanisms behind inflammation.

What can you do to help your body?

One of the most simple ways to combat inflammation is to adopt a plant based diet, these diets have shown in multiple studies to improve inflammation and wellbeing.

Read more at our plant based diet article

Exercise and meditation also have amazing anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

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