Inflammation

Inflammation is the natural reaction of our body’s response to injury, infection, or disease.  Inflammation helps us heal from many threats to our health.

The problem is, autoimmune diseases, like some kinds of arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, are caused by our immune system attacking healthy cells. 

There are two main types of inflammation:

  1. Acute inflammation usually occurs for a short (yet many times severe) period of time.  Symptoms appear rapidly and often resolve in two weeks or less.  
  2. Chronic inflammation appears more slowly and is often less severe.  Typically, it lasts longer than six weeks, and it may not be caused by an injury.  Chronic inflammation is linked to autoimmune disorders and prolonged stress.

Inflammation Indicators

  • Heat
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Loss of function

Long-term inflammation can reveal itself through several different manifestations.  Common indicators include:

  • Body pain
  • Constant fatigue and insomnia
  • Depression anxiety, and other mood disorders
  • Gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux
  • Weight gain
  • Frequent infections

Symptoms of Common Inflammatory Conditions

In some autoimmune conditions, our immune system affects our skin, which leads to rashes.  In other types, it attacks specific glands, which affect hormones levels in the body.

In Rheumatoid arthritis, our immune system attacks our joints. We may experience:

  • Joint pain, swelling stiffness, or loss of joint function
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Limited range of motion

In inflammatory bowel disease, inflammation occurs in the digestive tract.  Some common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain, cramping, or bloating
  • Weight loss and anemia
  • Bleeding ulcers

In multiple sclerosis, our bodies attack the myelin sheath.  This is the protective covering of nerve cells.  We may experience:

  • Numbness and tingling of the arms, legs, or one side of the face
  • Balance problems
  • Double vision, blurry vision, or partial vision loss
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive problems, like brain fog

Causes of Inflammation

Many factors can lead to inflammation, such as:

  • Chronic and acute conditions
  • Certain medications
  • Exposure to irritants or foreign materials our bodies can’t easily eliminate

Recurrent episodes of acute inflammation can also lead to a chronic inflammatory response.

There are also certain types of foods that can cause or worsen inflammation in people with autoimmune disorders.  These foods include:

  • Sugar
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Alcohol
  • Processed meats
  • Trans fats

Home Remedies to Reduce Inflammation

Sometimes, fighting inflammation can be as easy as reevaluating our diet.  We can put ourselves on the path to feeling better by avoiding sugar, rams fats, and processed foods.

Additionally, there are foods that actually fight inflammation.  These foods include: 

Berries and cherries

Fatty fish, like salmon or mackerel

Broccoli

Avocados

Green tea

Mushrooms, like portobello and shiitake

Spices, like turmeric, ginger, and clove

Tomatoes

As you may have noticed, these foods are primarily vegetarian.  Why not get our food from the same place most animals do?  Plants.  A vegetarian diet has much to recommend, as the above list suggests.

Suggested sources for information on fighting inflammation:

  • Take supplements.  WebMD makes helpful suggestions.
  • Hot or cold therapy for physical injuries to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Exercise more frequently
  • Manage and reduce our stress levels.  Here are 15 tips
  • Quit smoking

It’s probably no secret to many seniors that as the years pile on, our bodies sometimes begin to reveal signs of our longevity.  This reality requires our increased attention to carefully adhering to the important laws of health that younger people can seemingly ignore with apparent impunity.  We no longer enjoy that option.

If you find yourself facing some of the issues discussed above, you may wish to try some of the home remedies suggested.  If you are needing greater support, please contact your health provider for further assistance.

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