Fighting Off Chronic Inflammation, Naturally
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Ouch! You stub your toe on your bedpost for the hundredth time. Almost instantly, the redness, pain, swelling and heat wash over your toe. These four symptoms are the classic and predictable signs of acute inflammation, and they serve a very important purpose. When you stub your toe, cut your finger, or overwork yourself at the gym, the body responds with acute inflammation, a healthy, normal part of the healing process. It is how the body heals itself and it is essential to maintain your health. But chronic inflammation has a significantly negative impact on our vitality and long-term health. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Chronic Inflammation?
Chronic inflammation impacts our immune system, tissue function, biochemical reactions, and more. It is at the root of most disease processes in the body. In 2011, the CDC states that seven of the top ten causes of mortality are directly attributed to inflammation.
We develop inflammation because of our food choices, medications, and lifestyle factors, such as stress and alcohol use. According to Nicole Crane, BS, NTP, “The vast majority of individuals in the United States are eating a diet that is rich in the building blocks of what turns inflammation on, but consume very few foods that build us ‘inflammation resolvers‘. One the flame has been lit, poor food choices, stress, and poor sleep patterns only fuel the fire. While we cannot always control stress or sleep quality, food choices and proper supplements for additional support are entirely in your hands.”
Powerful Inflammation Regulators, according to Nicole Crane, BS, NTP
EPA and DHA
There are two families of fatty acids, which are critical for many different aspects of our health. The term “essential” in biochemistry means that the body cannot make them; therefore, it is essential that we consume them through the diet. These essential fats are the Omega-3 family and the Omega-6 family. There are many fatty acids that are members of these EFAs, but some are much more important than others, especially when it comes to whether inflammation is kept in “on” mode or has the ability to naturally turn it off. Generally speaking, Omega-3 fatty acids, especially the ones we find in fish and krill oil, which are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), help create the molecules that turn off localized inflammation.
When it comes to herbal medicine and inflammation, the spice turmeric is the most powerful, effective method for cooling inflammation. A close second is the Ayurveda herb Boswellia, otherwise known as frankincense. Seek a supplement that includes these herbs to help the body produce less of the proteins that have a pro-inflammatory action. Again, inflammation is not simply shut off like a light. Instead, these herbs act like a dimmer switch. They let the injury heal or the immune system get rid of the infection, but when that is completed they make sure inflammation is turned off. Otherwise, the body becomes stuck in a vicious cycle of inflammation that will not subside, leading to damage that perpetuates the inflammation.