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If you are a member of Earthly Essentials ~ The Community, inflammation is something that we addressed during our Wellness Wednesday Sessions in order to enhance the growth we have been working toward. If you are not a member, I encourage you to head on over to join in on many more in-depth topics of holistic health, wellness, and self-awareness & growth with a community of empowering individuals.
Inflammation is an in-depth topic
As one of the first responses of the immune system, there is so much science that goes on in its process. My goal is to give you enough of the basic information, we can leave the super sciency part to the scientists and doctors, so that you understand what is happening in your body as well as understand the difference between good and bad inflammation. You will also receive some tips about what you can do to help your inflammation response and reduce the unnecessary inflammation within your body.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection. It is a natural response and it does serve a purpose. Typically when we think of inflammation, many get the image of something similar to spraining an ankle. While this is one way that inflammation works, it also happens within the body.
Inflammation within the body occurs due to infection. These infections may be caused by pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi), or toxins. Other occurrences when the inflammatory response takes place is from heat, such as a burn, as well as wounds. No matter what the cause, there are some symptoms to keep an eye on, because inflammation within the body isn’t as easily detected, as it would be with a sprained ankle.
Symptoms of inflammation
The common symptoms associated with inflammation are:
- Swelling (excess fluid to the area)
- Pain or tenderness (swelling causes pressure on surrounding nerves)
- For burns or wounds- fluid-filled bubbles and scar tissue may occur
Internal inflammation may produce symptoms such as:
- Mild fever
- Loss of appetite
- Abdomen or chest pain
What happens during the inflammatory response.
In a very quick nutshell… a lot! There are many chemicals and processes involved so we are just going to briefly explain it.
- Injury or Infection occurs
- The body releases chemicals to fight off the infection or foreign debris. Some of the chemicals involved are: histamine, cytokines, proteins, and white blood cells.
- Capillaries dilate and become more permeable in order to allow faster & more blood flow to the compromised area.
- The chemicals and white blood cells attack the infection and infected cells and engulf foreign substances.
- Engulfed debris is filtered out of the area by entering the bloodstream through the permeable capillaries where the body then eliminates it.
Inflammation isn’t all bad
Acute inflammation is a good thing. It means that your body is working hard to protect itself, which is exactly what the body was made to do. The body is constantly adjusting itself to fight off or heal from foreign substances and so we do want acute inflammation to occur as needed. It is a crucial, temporary bodily response.
Think back to our example of spraining your ankle. That type of injury causes inflammation; the good kind. The swelling works to keep your ankle immobile as the body works hard to heal the injury.
The same happens with an infection. Let’s look at a virus strain that attacks the respiratory system, maybe causing an episode of bronchitis. You experience difficulty breathing accompanied by a slight fever and fatigue. This is your body fighting the infection and telling you to rest so that it can perform its job.
These are simple examples of the inflammatory response doing its job and acting as part of the immune response.
Inflammation can be negative as well
Sometimes the body isn’t able to shut off the inflammatory response, causing chronic inflammation. When this happens, the body experiences malfunctions; some more severe than others. When chronic inflammation occurs, swelling often reduces. However, the chemical responders remain and more tissue damage can occur, leading to the formation of deeper scar tissue. When this happens, there may be more pressure and damage to the underlying nerves or organs, causing dysfunction and/ or loss of feeling.
Some examples of improper organ functioning:
- The lungs won’t properly expand or contract causing breathing troubles. An example might be bronchitis.
- Joints lose function causing pain. An example could be rheumatoid arthritis.
- A note- many, not all, inflammation diseases end with -itis
Another danger of chronic inflammation is that it could lead to autoimmune disorders. When the body has successfully fought off an infection but the inflammatory response remains, there is a risk that the chemicals will turn on the body. When this happens, the body begins to attack its own cells, leading to autoimmune disorders.
Take Action Now!
The first step is to involve your medical doctor. Make sure that you are getting regular blood tests that check for signs of inflammation in your body. In addition to checking for inflammation, ask your doctor to run lab work to ensure your vitamin levels are on point.
Vitamins are important to monitor, when discussing inflammation, because researchers are beginning to believe that vitamins play a role in the inflammatory response. They state that many of the vitamins we need to maintain homeostasis help regulate certain chemicals and hormones that are involved with inflammation. An example would be their belief that vitamin A helps regulate the c-reactive protein, which is involved with the inflammatory response.
The next thing that you can take an active role in is your nutrition. You don’t necessarily have to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, but adding more food rich in this property would be beneficial. Food such as: tomatoes, green leafy, berries, nuts (almond & walnut), broccoli, avocado, mushrooms, cayenne, and turmeric.
In addition, limiting foods that cause inflammation; such as refined carbs, sugars, excessive amounts of red meat, shortening & lard, and fried food. Obviously, we talk about holistic, yet realistic, health and wellness, so enjoy your favorite food! Just enjoy them in moderation!
Some other things that you can do to help ensure inflammation is not building up inside of you is to exercise, manage your stress levels, and hydrate more to help remove toxins from your body.
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Remember, you are your biggest advocate and changemaker on your wellness journey! I would love to work with you one on one or see you join Earthly Essentials ~ The Community and join in on our live coaching sessions, Wellness Wednesdays, and so much more on Holistic, yet Realistic, Health & Wellness.