What Inflammation Really Does to Your Body

By: Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

‘Anti-inflammatory’ is quite the buzzword lately. If something is anti-inflammatory for our bodies, then of course we want it! This Anti-Inflammatory Morning Concoction is especially popular right now. But why is something that’s anti-inflammatory so important? We want to share everything you need to know about inflammation and why living an anti-inflammatory life is so important.

For starters, inflammation isn’t all that bad when it’s controlled. It’s actually an important part of healing and tissue regeneration, and it’s a crucial protective mechanism for the body against infections, environmental toxins, injury and stress. Inflammation causes the release of cytokines which are natural chemicals that stimulate the cells to start the process of healing and repair. On the flip side, inflammatory cytokines are destructive to normal healthy cells. So if your body has to work over and over again to repair itself, it irritates the healthy cells leading to more inflammation and tissue destruction (ie. arthritic pain and continued degeneration).

The mechanism of inflammation involves the immune system. The immune system works to protect the body and tissues from injury and infections in two different ways: 1.Vascular; to deliver more nutrients and blood to repair the tissue and bring restorative nutrients to the area, and 2. Cellular; to remove the waste from the area and protect the tissue from further damage.

The majority of the long term implications of inflammation is the impact it has on overall health and longevity, chronic inflammation is also nicknamed the ‘silent killer’. Chronic inflammation or prolonged inflammation is associated with an increase in all degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chronic prolonged inflammation really is the basis for all chronic disease.

Chronic inflammation is caused from continuous insults to the body, such as:

  • Poor diet: Many foods, particularly processed & refined foods, can be pro-inflammatory. These types of foods actually create a stress response which elicits an inflammatory response. The body sees these foods are a stressor that creates cellular havoc. Nutrient deficiencies are also associated with increased inflammation.
  • Poor lifestyle: Lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, medications and environmental pollutants are all factors that create cellular free radical damage that the body then responds with an inflammatory response to try and protect itself, but the insults are generally constant and so therefore is the inflammation.
  • Chronic infections: Acute inflammation is very powerful at protecting itself from damage and stimulating tissue repair and cell clean up. With the stress of long term infections it can be associated with an increase in heart disease, dementia and cancer. An example may be the correlation of gum disease and heart disease.
  • Chronic injury: Repeated or serious injuries and tissue that is unable to heal will create inflammation.
  • Stress:  Emotional, physical stress creates a response that stimulates inflammation.
  • Lack of sleep: This is a type of physical stress that stimulates inflammation. During sleep loss inflammatory meditators of inflammation are altered.
  • Elevated blood sugar levels: High blood sugar increases the risk of a number of diseases particularly diabetes, heart disease and cancer due to the increases in inflammatory mediators.
  • Visceral fat & obesity: Fat surrounding the vital organs emits inflammatory stimulus and increases the risk of chronic disease.
  • Chronic and autoimmune diseases: This covers any type of disease that perpetuates more inflammation such as autoimmune disease, liver disease, kidney disease, cancer and arthritis.

Symptoms of Acute Inflammation

Symptoms of acute inflammation are usually characterized by redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness, but sometimes with long term inflammation the effects are not obvious until there has been significant damage. Other symptoms that are less obvious are feelings of heat that is constant or intermittent, discomfort, muscle aches and pains, skin rashes, ongoing fatigue, dizziness, feeling generally unwell and sick, increased environmental and food sensitivities and/or allergies, sleeplessness, increased perspiration and sometimes nothing. When taking a case study as a practitioner you can generally determine the level of inflammation based on lifestyle factors and medical and family history.

There are blood tests that also can demonstrate systemic inflammation that isn’t disease or tissue specific but has been associated with increased inflammatory disease such as homocysteine, CRP, ESR and elevated ferritin.

The Beauty of Juice

One of the beauties of juicing is the nutrients quell inflammation and really work to reduce the symptoms that people may experience. A drop in body temperature, more energy, improved focus, and feeling better within themselves are highly associated with a significant reduction in systemic inflammation. This experience with Rebooters leaves me feeling pleased as I know they feel better but I’m more focused on the fact that there is a reduction in inflammation which means a reduction in chronic disease and other health implications that can be associated!

Important factors to reduce chronic inflammation:

  1. Eat a nutrient and antioxidant rich diet: Fruits and vegetables offer a range of nutrients and compounds that offer potent anti-inflammatory benefits. Antioxidants help to neutralize these free radicals from causing harm.
  2. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods: Here’s 8 inflammation-causing foods to avoid such as sugar, processed refined carbohydrates, MSG, food additives, trans fats and processed vegetable oils.
  3. Include specific foods that contain anti-inflammatory compounds such as turmeric, ginger, pineapple, Omega-3 fats, berries, beets and dark coloured spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Include these 8 Anti-inflammatory nutrients right now!
  4. Calorie restriction: Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction has been shown to reduce systemic inflammation and hence why we see such excellent results with our Reboot programs.
  5. Adequate proper hydration and sleep:  This is important to support the normal biochemistry of the body. Learn more ways to support better sleep.
  6. Stress management: By reducing cortisol and other stress hormones via yoga, meditation, speaking to someone and taking time out.
  7. Abstain from excess: Alcohol if consumed in high quantities increases inflammation. Here’s more on the Dos and Don’ts of Drinking.
  8. Lose weight: Even 20lbs of extra weight can increase inflammation. Even a small loss can be enough to substantially improve your health.
  9. Treat infections and consume natural immune boosting foods such as garlic, lemon, turmeric, ginger, rosemary, oregano and thyme.

These are the basics for long term health and longevity with a strong positive impact on reducing systemic inflammation and reducing your risk of many types of diseases.

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Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

Claire Georgiou is an Australian Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist who has completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Compl. Medicine) and an Advanced Diploma of Nutrition, Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine. She has more than 14 years of clinical experience specializing in liver disease, autoimmune disease, thyroid conditions, diabetes, insulin resistance, digestive disorders, chronic infections, children’s health, fertility and pregnancy care. Claire consults in private practice in Sydney and also offers consults out of area and is an accredited member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. Claire has worked closely for many years with Dr. Sandra Cabot, who is known as the “Liver Cleansing Doctor” and has written more than 25 health related books. Claire writes health related articles, creates healthy recipes and is one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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