In recent years, you’ve probably heard a lot about anti-inflammatory diets and medications, but do you know what inflammation is? Do you know what inflammation does for the body (good or bad)? Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and infection. For example: if you cut yourself, the area will become inflamed and be painful; this reaction is your immune system’s way of defending itself from physical assault. This type of inflammation is considered acute inflammation and is good for your body; it has a short duration.
There are many causes of inflammation. Inflammation itself is not a disease- it is a para phenomenon. What I mean by para phenomenon is that it occurs and is a sign of pathology but not the sole cause. There is a lot of confusing literature and “schools of thought” that challenge the traditional medicine field’s interpretation of pathology as it relates to inflammation. Once the body is healed, the inflammation signaling diminishes.
On the positive side, inflammation helps your body fight off infection and repair wounds, injuries, and illnesses. Any swelling or redness felt during a sickness or injury is a sign that your body has sent white blood cells, and nutrients to the infected area. We need inflammation to kill pathogenic bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses. When years of oxidized LDL cholesterol starts to accumulate in the inner lining of our arteries, Inflammation signals increase to help recruit macrophages (a form of white cells) and attempt to improve removing cholesterol from the arteries. Now there is commercially available advanced biomarker and lipoprotein analysis testing that can assist in evaluating the presence of active subclinical inflammation associated with abnormal cholesterol or abnormal cholesterol transport.
There is a whole category of diseases known as auto-immune diseases. Examples include: Rheumatoid arthritis, mixed-connective tissue disorder, and lupus erythematosus. These disorders have the common finding of significant and chronic inflammation. The inflammation bio-signals that run rampant in these disorders becomes uncontrolled resulting in “over-healing” and active tissue assault. It is an example of the normal useful benefit of acute inflammation turning into a chronic and now disease promoting problem. The inflammatory response to pathology generates higher oxidized stress. Oxidation results in excess unpaired electrons being generated. This places our cells and DNA at risk for injury.
Diets high in antioxidant foods that can help absorb excess electrons promoted by oxidation. Oxidation is more active in inflammatory states and thus our nutritional needs may be higher than normal. Antioxidant containing foods include: blueberries, oats, green tea, ginger, red peppers, wild salmon, dark chocolate, turmeric, broccoli, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, spinach, whole grains, yogurt, garlic, and coconut oil.
If you think you may be suffering from chronic inflammation, it’s time you talk to a doctor before your symptoms turn into something worse. To book an appointment with Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200. Dr. Kordonowy is a direct primary care doctor and concierge doctor in Fort Myers.