We've all known the pain of inflammation at some stage, and for some it's a constant misery in their lives. What to do about it? Here’s a prècis of the seminar on inflammation and immune driven conditions that I attended a couple of weeks back:
Acute inflammation (think headaches, period pain, swelling, colds and flu) is a protective physiological process orchestrated by our immune system, for allowing our bodies to self-heal and restore healthy functioning. But this return to health is hampered if these normal inflammatory processes are suppressed, as happens with NSAIDS and various forms of cortisone. These don’t resolve inflammation; they perpetuate inflammation.
When inflammation is not resolved, it can become chronic with tissue damage and a dysregulated immune system, leading to diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune diseases, neurological disease, chronic pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, heart disease and cancer. To resolve inflammation, the inflammatory trigger/s need to be eliminated. What can these be?
Metabolic syndrome (obesity, poor blood sugar control, high blood fats, type 2 diabetes)
Mechanical stress or infection causing tissue damage
Oxidative stress caused by smoking, medications, food additives, physical and emotional stress
Pathogens in our gut e.g. high levels of parasites, adverse bacteria and fungal infections
Damaged gut lining (aka leaky gut) allowing undigested food and pathogenic fragments to get into our blood stream
Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, needed for healthy cell membranes.
And, I’d like to add (from other research), environmental toxins and mineral deficiencies in our soil and food supply.
Meanwhile. there are safer alternatives for symptomatic relief (principally the discomfort of pain), including the proven effects of magnesium (mineral) and specific herbs (I am not a qualified herbalist).
Chronic inflammation and a dysregulated immune system can also be better supported with nutrients and herbs that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that protect against tissue damage and help resolve the triggers. Some of the key beneficial food ingredients and supplements include sources of the fat soluble vitamins A, D*, E and K; zinc, magnesium, selenium, chromium; prebiotic foods and probiotics that help restore healthy gut flora; ginger and turmeric – for the active ingredient, curcumin. There are a number of high-bioavailability curcumin based supplements with scientific and clinical evidence of efficacy for treating inflammatory conditions, with curcumin entering into cells and having effect at a DNA level. The benefits extend to being anticarcinogenic.
Magnesium and curcumin are two supplements that I think are worthwhile for just about everybody, but what form of supplement is best? That’s another topic…as is an explanation that *vitamin D is NOT a vitamin, but a hormone, which should not be taken at high doses without regular testing.
I love to talk to people about how to incorporate all these healthful nutrients into their diet in everyday meals. And then consider what extra nutritional support they may need for their unique health challenges. How much better to decide to be healthy, than wait for inflammation and chronic ill-health to develop, with all its associated misery and medical costs.