The human body uses inflammation to help the body heal and to protect itself from further harm. It is a vital process, an immune response to injury or infection. When acute inflammation persists and becomes chronic that’s when the problems start. Chronic inflammation plays a role in every major disease, ranging from heart disease to obesity, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation is the most common reason people visit health care practitioners. Ranging from diverticulitis to gastritis and anything else ‘itis’. If it has an ‘itis’ it’s inflammatory.

The good news is, with anti-inflammatory diets and lifestyles we can not only prevent future diseases from occurring but we can improve existing conditions and vastly enhance how we feel day to day. When it comes to inflammation, food really is the best medicine. When we start healing the body by living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, we can see positive changes in our health, such as improved mood, clearer skin, better digestion, weight loss and more energy. Even better, we reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases.

WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?

Inflammation is an entirely natural and essential process in which the immune system responds to anything ‘attacking’ the body. There are three main processes that occur; Firstly, the small branches of the arteries expand to allow more blood flow to the area, then capillaries allow protein and fluid to move between blood cells, and finally, the body releases neutrophils which are a type of white blood cell containing enzymes that digest micro-organisms. Superficially you may notice redness, heat and swelling. Tonsillitis or a scratch on the skin are two examples where we see a natural acute inflammatory response. During an inflammatory response the physiological processes that occur are all mediated by our immune system.

CHRONIC INFLAMMATION

Chronic inflammation is persistent, low-level inflammation and unlike acute nflammation, it is not something we can see. When Inflammation turns from a short-term immune response to a chronic, persistent issue, problems occur. If the immune system is constantly being disrupted and is on perpetual defence, a persistent inflammatory response occurs and it can become systemic. Chronic inflammation that serves no purpose in the body can start to actually CAUSE illness instead of its original function of healing. Even though we can’t see it there are many symptoms we may experience. 

Some of the symptoms are:

Joint pain or other aches and pains

Migraines

Fatigue

Depression

Digestive problems

Acne, eczema, psoriasis

Food sensitivities

High blood pressure

Allergies

Trouble losing weight

Autoimmune conditions such as Lupus

The list goes on….

It is now widely known that chronic inflammation is directly connected to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A diet high in pro-inflammatory foods such as refined grains, processed meats and sugars are placing an increasing toxic load on our bodies. Fortunately, through diet and lifestyle changes we can turn it around, reducing inflammation and the demand it places on the body.

HOW CAN WE TEST FOR IT?

With the ubiquity of chronic inflammation, it’s important to know where your inflammation levels are, which can motivate us to make the necessary changes. Thankfully, a simple blood test will give us the answers. C-Reactive protein or CRP is a test we can do to determine inflammation levels. CRP is non-specific, meaning it won’t tell us where your inflammation is coming from but it will tell us if it is high. High CRP has been associated with brain inflammation, chronic fatigue, cancer, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and more. Further testing and a thorough health history will help to determine the cause of the inflammation.

WHAT NEXT?

Book an appointment with me of course! Yes, it is optimal to see a qualified health practitioner who can look at the whole picture and give you evidence-based advice. However, you can start making some changes yourself like cutting out trans fats, refined sugars, eating more omega 3’s, getting plenty of B vitamins, and making sure to get adequate sleep and exercise. However, if you’re ready to take it up a notch contact me on bronwen@nbip.com.au or book online at http://www.nbip.com.au.

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