Inflammation is in many ways the body’s best friend. It is your system’s essential protective response, to help eliminate chemical toxins or foreign invaders, or to repair your body after physical injury. It also helps prepare you for battles, hence why you may get a sore thoat and swollen glands when you’re confronted not only by a virus or bacteria but also when you’re working too hard or are under emotional stress (and that includes harbouring an emotion such as anger or disappointment).
Problem is this essential protective inflammatory process can become excessive or out of control. This is when the body fails to heal properly and you encounter chronic, painful inflammatory conditions. In short, if you have too much inflammation your health will suffer. That’s why inflammation has become a significant health problem in modern-day society. It is now considered to be at the root of many common chronic and degenerative diseases; even depression and Alzheimer’s disease have underlying inflammation as hallmarks.
Health problems associated with inflammation
- Skin (eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis)
- Mental health (depression)
- Cognitive function (Alzheimer’s disease)
- Cardiovascular health problems
- Diabetes (type 1 and 2)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Some forms of cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD, Crohn’s disease, colitis)
Causes of inflammation
Unfortunately, a typical Western diet and lifestyle are loaded with triggers that encourage inflammation to persist beyond what is helpful; leading the body into a constant ‘pro-inflammatory’ state (see examples, left). When inflammation is consistently out of balance, chronic health problems naturally follow as a result.
Most people following a typical Western diet and lifestyle are constantly in this heightened inflammatory state. In contrast, there are many diet and lifestyle factors that have a calming effect on inflammatory processes (see anti-inflammatory examples, left). The key lies in nurturing this delicate balance to bring the body back into a state of harmony and equilibrium; where inflammation is used when needed, but the body quickly returns to balance once the threat has subsided.
Adverse effects of anti-inflammatory drugs
Millions of people rely on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to cope with chronic pain and inflammation. However, there are many adverse effects associated with them. Scientists now agree that there is a widespread need for natural therapeutic alternatives to support balanced inflammation.
WAYS TO COMBAT CHRONIC INFLAMMATION
A) Natural therapeutic alternatives to NSAIDs
Research shows that the following help reduce inflammation:
And we also know that some of The Hub’s therapies such as reiki and polarity therapy also have a positive effect when it comes to counteracting the effects of stress, which of course can lead to chronic inflammation if you are already depleted.
Inflammation creates free radicals in our body which can damage body tissues so it is essential to consume plenty of antioxidants as they get rid of harmful free radicals. Top antioxidant foods are of course vegetables and fruit.
C) Anti-inflammatory nutrients and phytochemicals
✓ Curcumin – The main active component of turmeric, curcumin has widespread anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, and has been extensively studied in a wide range of chronic diseases. Curcumin is notoriously difficult to absorb, however, so is best delivered in micellar supplement form as this has been shown to be 85 times more powerful than normal powdered curcumin.
✓ Ginger – Evidence suggests that ginger has significantanti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
✓ Boswellia – A traditional Ayurvedic remedy that has long been used to support a wide range of chronic inflammatory conditions and is now backed by scientific studies.
✓ Rosemary – This popular herb has a long history of traditional use, with significant reported antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that rosemary helps to balance key inflammatory pathways in the body.
✓ Vitami C and Citrus bioflavonoids – More than 50 years of research supports vitamin C’s role in the immune system and as a powerful antioxidant. Citrus bioflavonoids have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
✓ Green tea – A powerful antioxidant and helps to modulate several inflammatory pathways (ie control inflammation from becoming rampant).
✓ Vitamin D – Many people are low in vitamin D and a large body of research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D.
✓ Omega 3 – Typical Western diets, high in omega 6 and low in omega 3 fats contribute to a wide range of illnesses characterised by pain and inflammation. A daily supplement of high-quality omega-3 fish oil can help to reduce inflammation and support a healthier balance.
We stock best-quality omega 3, Vitamin D and turmeric at The Natural Health Hub
For further advice on reducing chronic inflammation do not hesitate to pop in for advice on supplements to take or book an appointment with our naturopathic nutritionist Rhi Hepple
For information on classes such as mindfulness and meditation that can reduce stress-induced inflammation head on to our Classes page