#3 What's the deal with inflammation?

So, what is inflammation, exactly? Technically speaking, it’s your body’s natural response to illness or injury, that produces extra white blood cells and immune cells in order to protect itself and ward off infection. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs over short periods of time (think: cuts, sore throats, splinters), while chronic inflammation occurs over longer periods of time (think diseases like: cystitis, dermatitis and colitis). Without this amazing natural response from our intuitive bodies, our wounds wouldn’t heal as quickly, they'd become infected and potentially--be reason enough for our demise.

As you might have guessed, we’ll be discussing chronic inflammation. In my last blog post (if you haven’t read it yet, you might wanna check it out) we talked about the idea of disease playing a crucial role in the healing process and i think the same perspective can be applied to inflammation. Inflammation is a process that occurs for our benefit. During the process of inflammation our bodies are desperately trying to shield our organs and tissue from toxic materials that will cause us harm. In the case of colitis and crohn’s, David Klein writes that ‘toxic fecal matter and acid wastes have poisoned the bowel, causing the body to enact inflammation in order to purify the tissues’.

The world health organization ranks chronic disease as the greatest threat to human health. Roma Pawha, from the National Institute of health, writes about the risk factors associated with chronic inflammation stating that a ‘diet rich in saturated fat, trans-fats or refined sugar is associated with higher production of pro-inflammatory molecules, especially in individuals with diabetes or overweight individuals’. She also says that ‘although chronic inflammation progresses silently, it is the cause of most chronic diseases and presents a major threat to the health and longevity of individuals. Inflammation is considered a major contributor to several diseases’.

So. How can we avoid and prevent inflammation? Dr, Michael Greger, creator of nutritionfacts.org and author of the amazing book ‘How Not to Die’ - believes that animal protein is the main culprit when it comes to inflammation. He says that ‘we’ve known for (over) 14 years that a single meal of meat, dairy and eggs triggers an inflammatory reaction inside the body within hours of consumption.” - “We may be stuck in a chronic, low grade inflammation danger zone for most of our lives. This can set us up for inflammatory disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, one meal at a time’. ( I highly encourage all of you to read this article from his website.

How exactly does animal protein cause inflammation, you ask? Animal protein creates endotoxins in the bloodstream. Endotoxins are a type of bacterial toxin. The bacteria comes from our own guts! How? Researchers found that ‘animal fat was causing our gut lining to become leaky, allowing our own bacteria to slip into our bloodstream’.

Pretty gross, huh?

Concerning inflammation, it's not just what you choose not to eat, but what you choose to eat as well. We make a ton of food choices every day and I hope that one of the choices you make happens to be this wonderful spice: turmeric. Circumin is the pigment in turmeric that turns it orange and yellow. Dr. Greger writes in his book “We have seen how circumin may play a role in preventing or treating lung disease, brain disease, and a variety of cancers, including multiple myeloma, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. But circumin has also been shown to help speed recovery after surgery and effectively treat rheumatoid arthritis better than the leading drug of choice. It may also be effective in treating osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease. In the latest trial for ulcerative colitis, a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study found that more than 50 percent of patients achieved remission within just one month on circumin compared to none of the patients who received the placebo.”

Now that’s pretty amazing!!

Some more herbs, spices and foods recommended for inflammation are:

cinnamon, garlic, ginger, peppermint, berries, greens, mushrooms, cherries, and whole grains.

Dr. Greger is a great source of information concerning all things disease! He has a free website where he writes articles about food and disease, makes short videos, and takes long, complicated research papers and makes them easy to understand! I appreciate his ability to take high level information and make it accessible to all!