What is inflammation and how can I fix it?

There are many health related terms and concepts which are becoming popularized by mass media.  And for the most part this is good, as it brings some greater awareness to individuals about things which may be causing them poor health.  However, the popularization of these topics also may confuse many individuals. Concepts like leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, and chronic fatigue are some of those commonly discussed on health shows and online blogs.  Scholarly articles about these items can also be found, given the usage of the appropriate search terms.  For the health conscious among us, the term chronic inflammation is also probably something which one has heard of.  But what is chronic inflammation and an inflammatory state?  Does this really impact health?  And if so, what can be done? 

What is chronic inflammation:  Inflammation is a necessary state associated with illness and injury, in which the body sends in immune cells to respond, breaks down products of injury, attacks microbial invaders, and eventually promotes healing and tissue regeneration.  Each of these is a very chronic inflammation at a low level exists (measureable by various inflammatory mediators), there are many impacts on health long term.

Health impacts of chronic inflammation:    Many diseases which are increasingly common have been shown to also have a connection with chronic inflammation.  Autoimmune disease, allergies, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are all diseases shown to have connections with chronic inflammation in the body.

Decreasing inflammation:  There are multiple approaches to reducing chronic inflammation.  Natural approaches are ideally suited to decreasing inflammation, as it is a systemic state which many holistic treatments will collectively improve.  Oftentimes when there is chronic inflammation a state of intestinal permeability and poor mucosal health also exist in the gut, promoting and exacerbating inflammation elsewhere in the body.  Removing foods which promote inflammation or irritation, healing the gut endothelial surface, improving the balance of gut microbiota, and promoting healthy digestion are all a part of reducing gut inflammation and permeability, and thereby reducing chronic inflammation.

 Various botanical and nutritional substances also have effects of reducing inflammation.  Turmeric, bromelain, ginger, boswellia, and berberine –  each of these herbs and botanical isolates have evidence of reducing inflammation.  Other substances which balance the immune system response and by these means and others reduce inflammation are fish oil, probiotics, and vitamin D.  Vitamin D levels in the general population are often low, and some studies have shown improved health with serum vitamin D levels which are higher than the commonly accepted normal lower limits. Antioxidants, provided by intake of colorful fruits (particularly in berries), vegetables, green tea, and other antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin E, lipoic acid, and CoQ10 when consumed in appropriate amounts can also act to reduce damage by neutralizing reactive oxidant species (also known as free radicals) which cause damage and are increased with chronic inflammation.

In conclusion:  Overall, despite the unknown level of inflammation which many of us experience from time to time in life, eating a diet which is healthy with the avoidance of processed foods, high in fruits and/or vegetables, and organic whenever possible will support the reduction of inflammation and disease risks associated with this.  Occasionally individuals who have been diagnosed with these diseases may find it helpful to seek additional support from an individual like a naturopathic doctor who has been further trained in assessing and addressing the causes of inflammation or other aspects of managing chronic disease.  When considering health, it never hurts to seek a second opinion as so much can be done naturally to support health and disease prevention!