Understanding Inflammation

There’s a new word buzzing around the health and fitness world: inflammation. The normal inflammatory response is regulated by hormones and is the body’s natural defense against damaged cells and foreign invaders.

INFLAMMATION IS A NORMAL RESPONSE TO INJURY

Appearing as redness, heat, swelling, and pain at the site of injury, inflammation is crucial to self-healing and the body’s defense system. When an injury occurs, blood rushes to the site to help it heal, resulting in heat and redness. The movement of fluid and white blood cells into the area results in swelling. The release of chemicals and compression of nerves may cause pain.

CHRONIC INFLAMMATION CAN LEAD TO DEGENERATIVE DISEASES

The connection between inflammation and injury is well known, and most people understand that diseases like arthritis, asthma, and Crohn’s are related to inflammation. What is now becoming apparent is when inflammation occurs at the cellular level, it can lead to degenerative, chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, depression, and many others. Chronic inflammation can last for years if the root cause is not eliminated.

CAUSES OF CHRONIC INFLAMMATION:

Some of the present-day causes of chronic inflammation are:

• Poor diets that are high in sugar, flour, processed foods, processed saturated fats, and trans fat.

• Hidden chronic infections such as viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and parasites.

• Lack of exercise

• Stress

• Hidden allergies to either food or the environment.

• Toxins such as mold, mercury, and pesticides.

Researchers believe that as toxins build up in the body, the immune system becomes overactive, leading to an increase in defense cells and hormones. This leads to cellular damage that causes inflammation.

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR BODY IS INFLAMED

To tell if inflammation is hiding in your body, signs might be allergies, gas, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, feeling tired all the time, puffy face, puffy bags under eyes, high blood glucose levels, itchy skin, gum disease, depression, anxiety, brain fog, and erectile dysfunction.

HOW TO GET TESTED FOR INFLAMMATION

Currently, conventional medicine offers a blood test called C-reactive protein. According to http://www.medicinenet.com, “C-reactive protein (CRP) is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body. CRP is produced in the liver and its level are measured by testing the blood. CRP is classified as an acute phase reactant, which means that its levels will rise in response to inflammation.” While C-reactive protein can measure general levels of inflammation, it cannot determine where the inflammation is located or what is causing it.

THERMOGRAPHY CAN LOCATE INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY

Thermography, digital infrared thermal imaging, can detect areas of inflammation in the body. Inflammation produces increased heat, and the digital infrared camera takes a picture of the body’s surface temperature in a heat map. Each person has his or her own unique thermal patterns. These heat patterns provide the a doctor, certified in thermology, with information to help detect early changes, like inflammation associated with the disease process. Thermography can also be used in the detection and monitoring of unexplained pain, vascular disease, immune dysfunction, IBS, and more.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS

One way to begin clearing chronic inflammation and its effects on the body is through diet. Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are:

• Green, leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collards)

• Nuts (almonds, walnuts)

• Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines)

• Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, oranges)

• Tomatoes

• Olive oil

Many of these foods are also high in antioxidants.

REDUCING CHRONIC INFLAMMATION

While a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants is well known to decrease chronic inflammation, changes in other aspects of life are also necessary. According to Kellyann Petrucci, ND, who is a leading naturopathic physician, nutritionist, and inflammation expert, the following are important steps in preventing and healing chronic inflammation.

• Avoid antibiotics, antacids, and NSAIDs. These alter the gut microbiome, causing changes that can lead to “leaky gut.”

• Respect the mind-body connection. Practicing meditation, yoga, and tai chi have been shown to reduce inflammation.

• Exercise regularly.

• Reduce exposure to toxins. Reduce herbicides and pesticides by choosing organic, and switch to more natural self-care and cleaning products.

• Sleep longer—at least 7 hours a night.

• Get some sunshine. Natural vitamin D from sunlight boosts the immune system.

• Get a massage, which lowers levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Karen Rubenstein is a Registered Nurse and owner of Thermography Center of Memphis. For more information call 901.249.8642 or visit Memphisthermography.com

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