Inflammation & Disease - Detailed Info

Inflammation is an innate immune response and can be helpful when used to ward off pathogens and repair the effects of injury. In other words, when a person receives an injury, the bodies’ natural response to that injury is inflammation. A person has to have inflammation when a wound occurs and the immune system goes in to cure it. Yet too much of inflammation in the body system can cause damage to the arteries and the body.

When inflammation persists for long it becomes chronic inflammation and it is believed that chronic inflammation is the driving force behind some of the most devastating and deadly diseases infecting the humanity, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders.  Chronic inflammation also increases the risk of cancer, hypertension, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems and many other health conditions. Moreover, according to many anti-aging experts, inflammation is the utmost cause of premature aging, so preventing it is also imperative to look young.

How Inflammation Works

When an injury or infection occurs in the body, the cells liberate histamine, a hormone that augments the porosity of the walls of blood vessels. This permits fluids containing white blood cells and antibodies to inundate the affected area, where these immune fighters work as defensive barriers against the offending pathogen and work as healing agent to repair the damaged tissues. Sometimes when inflammation continues for a long period, it results in the collapse of healthy tissues.

Causes of Inflammation

Inflammation that is there for short time has benefits associated with it; however, if inflammation continues over the long term, it can be devastating for the health and weaken the body's defenses against several degenerative disorders. Besides injury, lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of sleep and lack of exercise and emotional behaviors such as stress among-st others are believed to play a significant role in causing inflammation.

Modern Lifestyle – The swift moving world has changed our lifestyle a lot and this changing lifestyle has been associated with high risk of several overwhelming diseases. The factors such as stress, lack of physical workout and poor diet have made public health miserable and prone to ailments.

Stress & Loneliness - Stress wreaks disaster on the psyche and body. For instance, emotional stress is linked with higher risk for depression, heart disease and infectious diseases. Psychological stress often causes serious mental as well as physical health problems. A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University's Sheldon Cohen has established that persistent psychological stress is connected with the body losing its capacity to control the inflammatory response. The research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the outcomes of mental stress on the body's ability to control inflammation can encourage the development and progression of disease. As stated by Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology within CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences - Inflammation is somewhat regulated by the hormone called cortisol and when cortisol is not able to perform this function, inflammation can get uncontrollable. Cohen argued that long-term stress impacts the effectiveness of cortisol to control the inflammatory response as it reduces tissue sensitivity to the hormone. In particular, immune cells become insensate to cortisol's regulatory effect. Consecutively, runaway inflammation reflects to support the development and progression of many diseases. When a person is under stress, cells of the immune system are not capable to respond to hormonal control and as a result produce levels of inflammation that promote disease.
Besides stress, loneliness can also lead to serious health complications of its own. The human body acts to loneliness by compromising the functions of immune system. A latest study has uncovered that people who are publicly isolated have high latent herpes virus reactivation and more inflammation proteins in their body as a result of the stress of being alone. Reactivation of the latent herpes virus corresponds to stress which is an indicative of loneliness acting as a stress trigger resulting in a stressed immune system. Due to the same reason, herpes appears to be reactive very frequently in old age.

Lack of Exercise - Making exercise a part of regular routine is one solution to decrease stress & inflammation but most people do not take out the time to do the recommended thirty minutes exercise for even thrice a week. Sitting jobs, watching television, and working on computer accounts for a huge part of inactivity. Including daily exercise regime to reduce inflammation can be as easy as going for a walk, gardening or even doing housework.

Foods to be avoided

Gluten - Wheat contains this gut irritants which consecutively leads to inflammation of the gut lining and consequently, leaky gut syndrome. A leaky gut can allow bacterial proteins and other toxic compounds to get in the blood stream, which can also lead to autoimmune attacks on the body. Choose alternatives like buckwheat, amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff.

Refined Grains - They are low in vitamins, low in fiber and pack a punch of empty calories. Even worst part is that they have a very high glycemic index and they contribute to inflammation in your aging body.

Lectins - Lectins are capable of harming the lining of the intestines, especially the microvilli. Lechins are present in many grains, fruits and vegitables especially in beans, wheet, rice, tomatoes and potatoes. There is much hype around lectins nowadays however, if you cook these foods thoroughly (which you would do usually) the lectin is lost from them and they are good to eat. That leaves fruits - Consuming fruits outweigh the negative effects that some of them may have due to lectins.

Processed, packaged,or prepared foods – Additives such as preservatives and artificial coloring agents found in processed foods are poisonous to the body and should be avoided. Fast food atop the list of inflammatory foods due to the harmful oils, sugar and artificial sweeteners, food additives, and a whole lot of unsafe ingredients used to prepare them. These foods are also dagerously high on sodium which itself has been linked to cause autoimmune disorders recently. To know about ill-effects of sodium in detail please click here.
Food additives – Some of the coloring agents, flavor enhancers, stabilizers and preservatives include sulfites, benzoates, and especially the colors named FD&C #”X” are uncommon to our body and hence lead to inflammation. Nowadays many foods consumed by children are full of these harmful, toxic ingredients.
Synthetic sweeteners like Saccharin, Aspartame, AminoSweet, etc. are all unnatural and have many serious health conditions associated with them.
Hydrogenated oils & Trans-fats - These are your commercial oils that you purchase for cooking. Hydrogenated oil is made by heating vegetable oil to over 400 degrees in the presence of an aluminum or nickel catalyst and bubbling hydrogen through the super-heated oil for about six hours to increase their shelf life without having them to be refrigerated. The process of hydrogenation distorts the molecular structure of the vegetable oil and produces Trans fats which doesn't fit in with other molecules in your body and disrupts the natural flow of things and cause inflammation. Corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, and canola oil (unless cold pressed and sold refrigerated) are all hydrogenated.
Fried foods – Foods such as french fries, onion rings, potato chips, nachos, hamburgers, etc do not provide any nutrition to the body instead increases body weight and cholesterol levels.
Refined sugar and sweets - Recent research shows that sugar is one of the most addictive substances and is highly inflammatory. Beverages that are rich in sugar such as soft drinks and sweetened fructose juices should also be avoided.

Poultry and Meat – These foods tend to cause inflammation and a plant-based diet tends to be much lower in inflammatory substances. However, wild or organic meat and poultry may not prove to be harmful. Reduce or eliminate the consumption of meat, particularly red meat and processed meat.

Dairy products - Today’s dairy products are filled with hormones, antibiotics and other harmful ingredients so it is essential to avoid them as much as possible. Dairy products like ice cream, cottage cheese, butter and cheese are all inflammatory.

Alcohol and Use of tobacco - C-reactive protein is liberated by the liver into the blood rapidly after the onset of an infection or inflammation. Constantly high levels are an indicative of chronic inflammation. Fair consumption of alcohol, that is, one drink a day for women or two for men, reduces C-reactive protein levels. However, consuming alcohol in excess can raise levels. 
Smoking triggers an immunologic response to vascular injury which is also related to increased levels of inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein and white blood cell count. Inflammation caused due to smoking of tobacco is the human body's natural response to an unnatural element that stops Leukotriene A4 Hydrolase (LTA4H) which is an enzyme. The body uses this particular enzyme to help with healing inflammations. When the toxic chemicals are inhaled while smoking tobacco, it releases inflammation inducing chemicals which in turn causes these enzymes to be blocked and incapable to carry out their respective tasks.

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs

Turmeric and Thyme – For over 4000 years, turmeric has been used as a conventional remedy to cure several ailments. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a great antioxidant and helps combat inflammation by dropping the levels of inflammatory enzymes in the body. Thyme is another ordinary culinary spice that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, turmeric and thyme should be used extensively as an ingredient in preparing food items.

Ginger - Ginger possesses remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory compounds present in ginger which is responsible for considerably reducing inflammation are called gingerols. Researchers have discovered that these compounds are also responsible for reduction in pain and improvement in mobility for people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger can also offer advantage to people experiencing other diseases caused by or instigated by inflammation such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, several cancer types and cardiovascular disease.

Chang Shan - Investigation conducted by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) have revealed that natural Chinese medicine called Chang Shan is useful in treating autoimmune disorders. The team evaluated its active components and observed that one component in particular called halofuginone (HF) which blocks the development of T helper 17 (Th17) cells.

Other herbs such as Black Pepper, Boswellia, Cardamom, Cayenne, Chamomile, Chives, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Garlic, Holy Basil, Parsley, Nutmeg and Rosemary also hold strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Foods that are Anti-Inflammatory

Vegetables, Fruits, Whole Grains, Fish and Spices – Diet including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are essential in fighting chronic inflammation. Diets that are commonly followed in Mediterranean countries are usually associated with lower inflammation risk. These diets include excessive amounts of fish, olive oil, nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which the western diet lacks. An anti-inflammatory diet is one that has low or no percentage of processed foods and high percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, sprouts, nuts and super foods. Few more examples of foods that are anti-inflammatory are salmon, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Eat fish instead of meat and use cooking methods, such as baking, steaming or grilling, rather than frying. Cook food in cold presssed unsaturated oils. Limit your salt consumption and use himalayan salt instead of refined salt.

Super foods are becoming more and more accepted because of the great benefits they offer. In addition to supplying nutrients and balancing the body, they are normally extremely anti-inflammatory foods. Maca, spirulina, purple corn, wheatgrass, coconut butter and cocoa are a few of the super foods that are commonly used and also promote good health.

Probiotics - Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that reside in your gut and promotes digestion. Without good gut bacteria, your body cannot absorb certain undigested starches, fiber, and sugars. It is also essential in protecting microvilli (lining of the intestines) from damage.

Green Tea – Green tea contains antioxidants known as polyphenols. Some polyphenols called catechins can aid in reducing the inflammation of arthritis. Catechins also assist in reducing viral hepatitis which is a liver inflammation caused by a virus and also the inflammation of the intestines that is tied to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Consumption of green tea also may help avert gastritis, which is inflammation of the stomach.

Olive Oil – Studies have revealed that compounds found in non-hydrogenated virgin and extra virgin olive oils can essentially suppress gene based inflammation. These phenolic compounds have shown to decrease the inflammation generally linked with heart disease, together with additional ailments associated to inflammatory gene production. Therefore, consumption of the phenol contained in olive oil can adequately reduce inflammation, lowering the likelihood of developing a heart ailment or diabetes.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Chemical called Cytokines is liberated by white blood cells when there is an infection in the body. An excess of cytokines results in chronic inflammation. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil reduces cytokine production and therefore, inflammation. It is also known for its stress reducing properties. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.