Avoid Chronic Internal Inflammation - 101

When a wound begins to heal, it is actually a type of inflammation.

Avoid Chronic Internal Inflammation – 101

August 29, 2011  |  Disease Prevention

What is internal inflammation?

When a wound begins to heal, it is actually a type of inflammation.

Inflammation is usually a healing process, but as we age the process can get “stuck.”  You then have chronic internal inflammation.  Your body pumps out too many inflammatory substances, and slowly but surely, they erode your health.

Temporary inflammation is good

Slash your skin or catch a cold and you’ll be thankful for inflammation, a physical reaction that is one of the body’s key germ-fighting maneuvers.  The obvious signs of inflammation – redness, swelling, and warmth – are evidence that your immune system is working, waging war against marauding microbes and protecting surrounding tissue from possible infection.  Normally, once the threat subsides, so does inflammation and you begin to heal.

Ongoing inflammation is bad, VERY BAD

Ongoing conditions such as asthma, obesity, and smoking can trigger a state of chronic low-grade internal inflammation.  When the immune system doesn’t shut down, continued activity damages your body, including the cardio system.

Hardening of the arteries is a consequence
Growing evidence shows that hardening of the arteries results in part from chronic inflammation.  First a state of continuous inflammation may contribute to the development of plaques on the artery walls.  Then the immune system may perceive the plaque as an injury, sparking more inflammation.  White blood cells that are involved in the inflammatory response attack the plaque, and in so doing cause the plaque in arteries to “pop.” thereby releasing dangerous debris into the bloodstream – possibly resulting in a sudden heart attack or stroke.

This may explain why half of all heart attacks and strokes occur in people with normal or even low cholesterol. Researchers have found that many people with high inflammation levels but low cholesterol have a worse survival rate than people with high cholesterol and low inflammation.

Does chronic infection only affect artery walls?  No.  Halting the inflammatory process may also help to prevent allergies, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer.

Bleeding gums are a clue to ongoing infection
If you gums often bleed when you floss or brush your teeth, you might have a gum infection.  Low-level gum infection can last for years and slowly “leak” dangerous bacteria into your bloodstream.

What causes bleeding gums, i.e. chronic infection

  • Unfortunately, a lot of food that we enjoy can lead to chronic infection.  A diet that’s low in whole grains (enriched flour is not whole – it has the husk and bran removed) low in omega-3 fats, and low in fruits, beans, and vegetables the way Mother Nature made them, is a contributor.  If a packaged food has multiple ingredients on the label, it’s not natural.
  • If you eat from Ma Natures’ plants rather than food from human food processing plants, you are more likely to avoid inlammation.
  • Excess fat is a known trigger for inflammation.  What that means is those extra pounds you are carrying around hurt in more ways than one.
  • A high-stress lifestyle where you never have the time to “wind down.”  Stress reduces your ability to fight inflammation naturally.
  • Toxins and pollutants in our food and environment.  For example, many growers use insecticides to kill insects, and those toxins remain on the food that you eat.

How do you avoid a chronic internal infection?

Banish the belly
Excess poundage is a possible inflammation inducer because fat cells are a virtual factory for producing inflammatory molecules.  Belly fat is particularly dangerous.  Researchers say that fat tissue inside the abdominal cavity is especially metabolically active – secreting even more harmful proteins into the blood stream.

Brush and floss
Research now links gum disease and tooth loss with higher C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.  Bacteria that cause gum disease, cavities, and gingivitis in the mouth can appear in the same cardiovascular plaque.  Doctors don’t yet know how or whether the bacteria travel from one site to the other, but it may be that mouth bacteria enter the blood stream directly through the inflamed gum tissues.  The best defense is dental hygiene:  Brush at least twice a day and floss daily.

Butt out
When you smoke a cigarette, hundreds of chemicals enter your body, many of them irritants that get into the bloodstream, triggering an inflammatory response.  Smoking is especially inflammatory to an artery’s inner lining because each cigarette adds new damage and the vessels never have time to heal.  Quitting the habit immediately reduces inflammation and eventually reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke back to levels for nonsmokers.

Rethink your diet

Researchers now believe that sugar laden foods and food such as white bread, baked potatoes, etc. with a high glycemic index – that is the foods that are digested and converted to glucose most quickly – can cause harm too, contributing to inflammation by causing quick, dramatic spikes in blood sugar, increasing the production of free radicals that damage cells and trigger inflammation.

The good news is that there are other foods that help protect your arteries.  Leading the pack of good guys are foods rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids – ground flax seeds, olive oil, walnuts, and cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.  Fish liver oil is packed with omega-3’s.

There’s growing evidence that plant foods rich in certain disease-fighting natural chemicals may also have a potent anti-inflammatory effect.  Good choices are tomatoes, blueberries, eggplant, and fiber-rich grains.  Choose whole grains over processed white flour, and eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.  Also, eating smaller, more frequent meals causes a slower spike in blood glucose – and therefore less inflammation – than having one or two larger meals a day.

How do you measure chronic internal inflammation?

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a molecule produced by the liver in response to an inflammatory signal.  A general CRP test measures inflammation throughout the body.  The so-called high-sensitive test (hs-CRP) is more specific to gauging inflammation in blood vessels.  The American Heart Association recommends limited use of hs-CRP testing, for those at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including smokers and diabetics.

According to the AHA, an hs-CRP reading above 3.0 milligrams per liter puts you in the danger zone.  Between 1.0 mg/L and 3.0 mg/L indicates average risk, and below that is a low risk.  The hs-CRP test should be done only when you’re not injured or sick:  trauma or infection can spike CRP levels to 1,000 mg/L or higher.

You have to ask for a c-reactive protein blood test

This is not a normal test for doctors.  The author has a primary MD, a cancer MD, and a Kidney MD.  None of them have ever asked for this test.  It’s just not in each’s area of expertise, so you have to stand your ground to get it done.

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