Inflammation is a defense mechanism of the body. The immune system recognizes pathogens, irritants, foreign substances and damaged cells.
It releases white blood cells, increases circulation and heat, creating an environment, in which the healing process can take place.
There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation starts rapidly and usually last a few days.
It is often accompanied by swelling and pain, as in the case of a sprained ankle, sore throat, or an internal condition, like appendicitis.
Chronic inflammation takes much longer to resolve, months, or years.If the irritants, or pathogens remain in the body, inflammation will persist indefinitely.
This type of inflammation is low grade and doesn’t have symptoms, so it is not easy to recognize. Chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases.
Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, hepatitis, tuberculosis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, periodontitis, sinusitis, Alzheimer’s, auto-immune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and more.
When inflammation persists, the immune system remains active and continues to send out white blood cells. These blood cells release molecules, called cytokine. Cytokines are signaling molecules that are involved in the regulation of the inflammatory response.
How exactly this plays a role in the development of diseases is not known. One theory is that the white blood cells that are released, have no place to go and they sometimes attack body’s own organs.
The inflammatory response puts the body “on alert”. While this is beneficial on the short term when healing needs to take place, on the long term this places undue stress on body systems.
Recognizing that chronic inflammation lies at the basis of most diseases allows the treatment to focus on the causes, instead of treating the symptoms by prescribing pharmaceutical drugs.
Systemic inflammation is a defensive reaction against something that the immune system recognizes as harmful to the body.
Identifying and removing those irritants from the body is what is needed for true healing to take place. Diet and lifestyle are said to be the main factors in the progression of chronic inflammation.
Not surprisingly, the typical foods of the Standard American Diet, meats, dairy, processed foods, trans fats, saturated fats, sugary foods and refined carbs increase inflammation.
It’s also not surprising that fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, legumes, nuts and seeds are considered anti-inflammatory foods.
This means, that conversations during doctor’s visits should center around food and nutrition. Unfortunately, medical doctors only receive 19.6 hours of training on nutrition during their 4 year training.
And the fact that currently there is an opioid crisis in US, shows that healthcare procedures are driven by money and profits more than ever.
It is interesting that the word “opioid” is now used to describe it, not long ago, it was called addiction to prescription drugs. Perhaps it’s an effort to shift the focus away from Big Pharma.