Inflammation is impossible to escape, as it is a normal, natural part of the healing process; without it injuries and wounds great or small would never heal. When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues in an attempt to rid the body of foreign substances. Some of the chemicals cause leakage of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. The inflammatory response is basically your body’s way of releasing free radicals to scavenge damaged tissues in order for your body to begin to repair itself. The common physiological symptoms include swelling, redness, heat at the site, lack of a range of motion of affected body part, and usually increased pain. After the primary healing takes place the excess free radicals produced during the immune response are neutralized by anti-oxidants or free electrons in the body.
Inflammation can be separated into two distinct categories: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s normal protective response to an injury, irritation, or surgery. This natural defense process brings increased blood flow to the area, resulting in an accumulation of fluid. The common medical advice in treating acute inflammation is RICE therapy, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
I have also found some alternative herbs and natural remedies that have assisted me in managing the inflammation caused by injuries. When using herbs or natural remedies I highly recommend you contact a professional in this area as herbs can sometimes cause adverse reactions with certain medications and in certain individuals.
I will most often use the following natural remedies when I have an injury or pain from inflammation, especially in my joints:
Burdock Root – In addition to its liver cleansing properties, burdock root may assist in reducing inflammation caused by arthritis and may aid the breakdown of calcium deposits in the joints.
Fish Oil (Omega-3’s) – Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are polyunsaturated fats that our bodies need but cannot produce. Therefore, they must be consumed through food or supplements. There are two families of EFAs: omega-3 and omega-6, which need to be consumed in a balanced ratio. The body must receive a balanced supply of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs to ensure proper eicosanoids production. Eicosanoids are hormone-like compounds that affect virtually every system in the body they regulate pain and inflammation, help maintain proper blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and promote fluid nerve transmission.
Glucosamine – Since the body’s natural production of glucosamine is used to make and repair joint cartilage, taking glucosamine as a nutritional supplement is thought to help repair damaged cartilage by augmenting the body’s supply of this compound.
* We carry ProOmega, a fish oil supplement that is of the highest quality we have found and use ourselves.
Curcumin – Curcumin has a long history of use for maintaining a healthy inflammatory response, via its effects on cyclooxygenase, prostaglandin and leukotriene metabolism. It also appears to provide important antioxidant defense. Furthermore, it supports the body’s natural detoxification system and helps maintain healthy hepatic function. These actions are associated with its beneficial effects, including support for healthy liver, colon, musculoskeletal and cellular function. Curcumin has been the subject of scientific investigations at a number of hospitals and universities. Most recently, it has demonstrated the potential to maintain healthy tissue in the brain by supporting macrophage activity and has been associated with powerful support for cellular health in separate trials. In addition, recent studies have found Curcumin has strong cancer fighting properties due to its support of cellular health.
Numerous foods and spices provide anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric and ginger; shiitake and reishi mushrooms; wild salmon, mackerel and sardines; enzyme-rich papaya and pineapple; and dark-hued berries such as blueberries, blackberries and cranberries.
Now to the type of inflammation that is literally killing America: chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a prolonged inflammatory reaction that signals something has gone seriously wrong with your health. Instead of protecting and healing your body, chronic inflammation breaks your body down causing a multitude of health problems. Many recent studies have shown chronic inflammation is a leading cause of many diseases in the United States, both physical and neurological, including:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Arthritis (All types)
So what are the main culprits when it comes to chronic inflammation? This should not come as a surprise, especially to those who have implemented the New American Nutrition Program into their lives. Studies suggest that eating a poor diet, especially processed factory foods that are high in sugar, sweeteners, white flour, transfats, highly processed vegetable oils, and processed meats, is one of the main causes for chronic inflammation.
Other factors that can increase your risk of chronic inflammation include:
- Poor gut health
- Being obese or overweight
- An existing heart condition
- A family history of heart disease
- Diabetes that’s poorly controlled
- A sedentary lifestyle (no, or very little, exercise)
- Long-term infections
- Gum disease
Some of you have probably noticed that the above factors can also be directly related to a poor diet.
It is not surprising that an entire medical and drug industry has evolved to deal with an epidemic of chronic inflammation to the tune of billions of dollars a year. As I have said several times in other writings, it is more financially advantageous for the medical and drug community to “manage” symptoms than to actually take care of the cause of illness. As you can see, the diseases related to chronic inflammation are not just aches and pains, but some are actually deadly. Just think: when you change your lifestyle and incorporate a healthier and more natural type of diet, not only will you look better but you will greatly reduce your chances of acquiring these deadly diseases caused by chronic inflammation.
I am not a doctor, but I have read thousands of books, articles, and studies that relate to health and nutrition. One common factor always seems to come to light: our miserable diet followed by chronic inflammation is at the epicenter of America’s health epidemic. I have lost count of how many doctors and other medical professionals I have queried about their background, training, and understanding of nutrition. The common answer is usually zero, with the exception of a small number of practitioners who received a brief introduction (consisting of 2-4 hours) to nutrition during medical school. Until I started asking this question I had no idea how little America’s medical professionals know about proper nutrition and how nutrition relates to disease; needless to say I was appalled!
It is my hope that this article will help you identify problems you may have with inflammation and suggest how to better deal with some of it on your own. I know I have dealt with chronic inflammation over my life and until I made the proper lifestyle changes it was a constant and persistent, if unwelcome, companion. Now that I have incorporated the proper nutrition to go along with my exercise program I know I have far fewer aches and pains and suffer far less from the usual ailments plaguing most Americans.
About the author
Mr. Collins (MS) worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for nearly a decade. In addition, he is a specialist in fitness and nutrition, a certified fitness trainer, member of the International Sports Science Association, member of the American Society for Nutrition, member of the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, member of the Weston A. Price Foundation and member of the Price-Pottinger Nutrition Foundation. Collins completed 13 years of service in the United States Military and is a proud veteran. For full bio click here.
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