Inflammation has been a topic widely studied, and in recent years, widely discussed with it being the potential culprit of many chronic diseases. It’s important, however, to not completely think of it as a bad process. Acute inflammation is our friend.
Acute inflammation happens anytime you fall down, workout, sprain an ankle, etc. We get pain, swelling and discoloration as the white blood cells go to the injured area to digest pathogens and dying cells, thus starting the repair phase. Acute inflammation is absolutely necessary to the healing process. However, there is so much more to consider, and we’re just touching the surface here!
Another important part of inflammation is to signal the immune system when something isn’t right. Cytokines are part of this signaling; they are a large group of proteins, peptides or glycoproteins that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system. These signaling molecules mediate and regulate immunity and inflammation.
Some of the latest research is looking at how to not block inflammation or its signaling pathways, but stimulate the process so it resolves properly. Blocking inflammation could lead to compromising our immunity. Some now recommend not even taking such anti-inflammatories as ibuprofen or acetaminophen when you have acute inflammation because they block the end of the healing response. Ice and Advil immediately following your workout may not be the best advice anymore. Enjoy the inflammation and the physiological benefits of your hard work! Yes, it is easier said than done 😉
On the flip side, it is the chronic inflammation that is our foe. While we want to have a normal process that allows our body to handle injury, it must also be able to resolve and repair itself. We get into trouble when the last phase gets stuck and the inflammation hangs around. An excerpt from Dr. Perlmutter’s bestselling book, “Grain Brain” explains this idea of chronic inflammation brilliantly:
Dr. David Ludwig, physician, nutritional researcher and Harvard Professor clearly describes it: “Imagine rubbing the underside of your arm with sandpaper. Before long, the area would become red, swollen, and tender–the hallmarks of acute inflammation. Now imagine that this inflammation process took place over many years within your body, affecting all the vital organs as a result of poor diet, stress, sleep deprivation, and other exposures. Chronic inflammation may not be immediately painful, but it silently underlies the greatest killers of our era, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even cancer.”
It is widely agreed upon than many of the chronic diseases that are so prevalent now, all have an underlying link to chronic inflammation. These include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Coronary artery disease
- And many more chronic conditions…
The good news is that we can take control of our chronic inflammation and our future! We know now that our genes do not always determine our destiny. We can help decrease chronic inflammation and decrease our risk of chronic disease. Here are a few key things to keep in mind to help maintain a healthy body and a healthy brain:
- We have all heard of the dangers of refined sugars as well as high sugar foods and drinks. Limit these or cut them out completely!
- Exercise! Do what you like; any type of exercise will help lower your stress and decrease chronic inflammation.
- Fasting: Promotes cellular autophagy and promotes mitochondrial division.
- Keep blood sugar low and regulated through a lower carbohydrate diet or ketogenic diet
- Limit gluten
- Target the microbiome with pre/probiotics
- Replete magnesium
- Get plenty of essential fatty acids EPA, DHA as well as arachidonic acid (fish is a great source of all three!)
- Turmeric (Curcumin)
- CBD (CBD from hemp does not have THC, so it is legal in all 50 states. CBD from cannabis is not legal in all states and can have THC in it, and thus a potential psychedelic effect.)
A few changes can go a long way to lowering your inflammation. The potential benefits will be astounding for your healthier brain and body! Stay tuned for future posts as we delve in deeper to this multi-faceted and fascinating subject of inflammation and how we can take control of our health. Below are some additional resources if you’d like to read further:
*Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult your doctor before considering any new diet, supplementation, or other changes to your normal nutrition and exercise routine.