What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a healthy response of our immune system. It comes into play whenever our physical bodies suffer damage or disease. Inflammation creates a protective environment so that the cells and tissues can heal – it’s like it wraps the damaged area in cotton wool.
Inflammation can be acute, flaring in an immediate, short-term response to a sudden event, such as your ankle swelling to twice it’s size after you’ve twisted it. Acute inflammation decreases quickly as the healing takes place. Or, it can be chronic, meaning that the immune response doesn’t switch off, causing the inflammation to continue for months or years.
Inflammation can be localized, meaning it is confined to just one part of the body, or it can be systemic, flooding throughout the entire body.
These qualities can be combined, such as acute localized inflammation, as in the sprained ankle example, or acute systemic inflammation, such as when you have the ‘flu and all your muscles and joints ache. Acute inflammation is ok – it’s serving it’s purpose, and it passes as healing takes place. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is nasty. Chronic localized inflammation refers to those damaged muscles and tendons that simply won’t heal, months or years after the trauma took place. Chronic sistemic inflammation affects the entire body, with consequences ranging from seasonal allergies to cancer.
What is Chronic Sistemic Inflammation?
If the immune system is constantly activated, things start to get out of control and the inflammatory response becomes unhealthy. Systemic chronic inflammation takes root. The immune system never switches off, and the inflammatory response runs haywire throughout the entire body. An over-worked immune system can’t do it’s job properly, and this has dangerous negative consequences:
- It becomes weak, and fails in it’s ability to do the important work, such as fighting off bacteria and viruses, and healing damaged tendons.
- It loses it’s capacity to do the normal day-to-day jobs of maintainance and repair in the body.
- It loses the ability distinguish between the positive and the negative, the proteins and cells of the body itself, which are to be protected, and the foreign invaders which need to be destroyed. The consequences are food and environmental sensitivities and allergies, sistemic inflammation, and autoimmune conditions.
Sistemic inflammation is a key player in lifestyle diseases including (but not limited to) diabetes, insulin resistance, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, asthma, athritis, osteoporosis, obesity and autoimmune disease. It is also implicated in conditions such as depression, acne, eczema, and behavioural disorders. It is so significant that some are suggesting that Sistemic Inflammation is the root of all contemporary disease.
What Causes Chronic Sistemic Inflammation?
Specific foods cause inflammatory flare ups. Cereals and grains, legumes, refined sugar and alcohol, dairy and industrialized seed oils all cause an inflammatory response, in direct and indirect ways. When these foods are the basis of one’s daily diet, the immune system is in a constant state of overdrive. Some of these foodstuffs confuse the immune system, and others damage the enterocyte cells of the intestinal wall, resulting in Leaky Gut.
The Paleo Diet and Sistemic Inflammation
The Paleo Diet is an anti-inflammatory diet. It recommends avoiding all foods which trigger an inflammatory response, and all foods which damage the lining of the intestine. The reason the Paleo Diet recommends avoiding all industrialized, processed and refined foods, grains and legumes and their derivatives, refined sugars, dairy and refined seed oils is that all of these cause an inflammatory response and/or degrade the health of the intestine. The Paleo Diet promotes fresh vegetables, seasonal fruit, seeds and nuts, healthy fats, and well-sourced animal protein because these foods are nutrient dense and actively promote a well-functioning immune system and a healthy intestine.
The anti-inflammatory effects of the diet are radical and immediate, with most people experiencing positive results within just 21 days. For those with more serious conditions, benefits are experienced with the Autoimmune Protocol of the Paleo Diet.
On the Side
These posts are all related to Inflammation:
Do you suffer from chronic inflammation? If so, how do you describe your symptoms to others? I’m curious, because not everyone understands what you mean when you say ‘I suffer from inflammation’. I have my own way of describing it – I’d love to know what language you use.
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