Reducing inflammation problems within the bodyPublished 7:37pm Thursday, September 13, 2012
You wouldn’t think that one of your body’s life-saving mechanisms could actually turn against you and increase your chance for disease, but that’s exactly what happens with inflammation.
Just what is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or illness. It’s a process by which the body’s white blood cells and other chemicals protect us from infection and foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. Inflammation is triggered by your body’s immune system, and is designed to repair injured tissue and promote healing.
This all sounds really great, doesn’t it? There’s a problem, though. When the immune system’s battle against an injury or illness is over, inflammation is supposed to cease, but sometimes doesn’t. When inflammation no longer has a foreign enemy to fight off, it causes damage to otherwise healthy tissues. This is referred to as “autoimmune disease.”
Low-grade inflammation can set in motion a series of developments that underlie a wide variety of diseases and conditions such as heart disease and stroke. It also appears that inflammation is the driving force behind “atherosclerosis,” in which plaque builds up in the walls of arteries, thereby reducing blood flow.
It has been suggested that measuring blood levels of “C-reactive protein” (CRP), a marker for inflammation, may be a way to assess one’s risk for heart disease.
One study at the Harvard School of Public Health found that high levels of CRP were associated with a 70-percent higher risk of heart disease in men and women. Other conditions thought to be facilitated by inflammation include rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, gouty arthritis, polymyalgia rhuematica, headaches, muscle stiffness and loss of energy.
Now that we know what inflammation is and what is does to our bodies, how do we deal with it? First, lose weight. Excess weight can accentuate the risk of low-grade inflammation. There is a strong association between hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol and diabetes with regard to the integral role of fat cells.
In addition to losing weight, quitting smoking and getting regular exercise play a huge role in reducing inflammation. Avoiding saturated fats and consuming fruits, whole grains, richly colored vegetables, beans, seeds and fish, are also associated with a reduction in low-grade inflammation.
Also, consuming omega 3 fatty acids reduces inflammation. Omega 3s are found in fish like salmon, tuna and halibut. They are also found in nut oils and some other plants like flax.
It’s important, though, to have a balance of omega 3 and omega 6 (another essential fatty acid) in your diet. There are medications like statins, ACE inhibitors, and some diabetic drugs that are anti-inflammatories. There are also non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, but don’t take any medication without first consulting with your doctor.
Diet or exercise question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fitness4yourlife.org. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 26 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A. , head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.S. state champion girls gymnastic team and the Converse college equestrian team. He has also been a water safety consultant to the U.S.Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency and a teacher for four semesters at USC-Union.