Sometimes, inflammation is good. When you’re injured or sick, white blood cells build up to help the body fight off infection. But, sometimes, the body can overdo it and that causes its own issues. Nutrition Expert Denis Faye discusses inflammation and how changing your diet can reduce it.
What’s the deal with inflammation and what can I do to prevent it?
Ah yes, inflammation, a term that seems to be creeping into the hipster nutritional vernacular with increasing regularity.
The most important thing to know about inflammation is that, essentially, it’s a good thing, a vital part of the healing process. When you’re injured, or sick, or even worn out from a hard workout, your body wants to repair itself. Inflammation is part of its process. During inflammation, mediators–particularly cell-signalling proteins called cytokines and fatty acids with hormone-like qualities called prostaglandins–open up blood vessels (vasodilation), allowing enzymes, antibodies, white blood cells, and nutrients to enter the wound so they can fight infection and removing debris and bacteria.
This process doesn’t need a bump, scrape or cut to happen. Basically, if something anywhere in your system isn’t quite right, the inflammatory paramedics are called in. Viruses and bacteria also generate an inflammatory response.
Inflammation becomes a problem when it goes on for too long. This can happen for a few reasons. It could be that an imbalance or lack of nutrients inhibits you from going to the next stage of healing. Or it could be that you continue to exacerbate the problem, not giving it the recovery time needed to heal. (In exercise circles, this is called overtraining.) It could be that you have some sort of auto-immune issue putting your body in a perpetual state of trying to heal something that’s not broken. Food allergies and intolerances are a classic example. Finally, it could be that you suffer from a hormone imbalance, as is the case when you’re over-stressed. Stress causes an over abundance of the hormone cortisol, which inhibits the healing process, leaving you in a prolonged inflammatory state.”
To find out what diet and lifestyle changes can make a difference, click here.
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