Every month I am posting about everything you need to know about health. This month topic is about inflammation.
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Did you know …
- Inflammation is a natural, important part of the body’s immune response.
- Trouble starts when the inflammatory response gets out of hand and continues indefinitely – aka chronic inflammation
- Inflammation is created by the body’s white blood cells and the inflammatory chemicals they produce.
- Inflammation helps you fight things that might harm the body, such as:
– Physical harm, such as burns, sprains and other, injuries,
– Biological harm, such as infections and immune reactions
– Chemical harm, such as toxins and alcohol
– Psychological harm, such as emotional stress
- Most of us think of inflammation as the result of a specific injury that causes a part of the body to become painful and visibly swollen and red such as a sprained ankle, knee or wrist.
- There are 2 types of inflammation:
– acute which lasts for a few hours or a few days
– chronic which can last ‘for ever’
- Acute inflammation produces very obvious and immediate symptoms such as:
– Reduced function
- Chronic inflammation is a more gradual and subtle process.
- Unlike with acute inflammation symptoms continue long-term or come and go Symptoms can include:
– Muscle aches and joint pain
– Constipation, diarrhoea, and other gastrointestinal issues
– Weight gain
– Skin rashes
- Chronic inflammation is the root cause of all disease, and does not manifest itself as acute injury or infection and the scary thing is we don’t necessarily know it’s there.
- Chronic inflammation is also referred to as slow, long-term, low grade inflammation lasting for prolonged periods of several months to years.
- Chronic inflammatory disease is causing an increasing medical and societal burden In 2004 Time magazine coined chronic inflammation as ‘the secret killer’.
- Today we refer to it as The Silent Killer – aka Chronic Silent Inflammation.
- Any disease state that ends in ‘itis’ is inflammatory, such as Appendicitis, Bursitis, Colitis, Cystitis, Dermatitis to name a few.
- Visceral fat / belly fat produces inflammation
- Could waist size could be an indicator of inflammation?
- Inflammation increases oxidative stress and decreases antioxidants, which speeds up aging, and is known as inflamm-aging.
- BTW this is American Heart Health month and inflammation is the leading cause of cardiovascular problems.
Chemicals of Inflammation
- Immune cells of the affected tissue produce Cytokines
- Cytokines are hormone like messaging molecules, such as:
– TNF-alpha – tumour necrosis factor-alpha
– IL-6 – Interleukin-6 and other Interleukins
- Cytokines stimulate the production of molecules responsible for creating symptoms of inflammation, such as:
– Histamine – create redness, swelling and itchiness
– Serotonin – create redness and swelling
– Bradykinins – create pain
– PGE2 / Prostaglandin E2 – create fever, pain, swelling
– LTB4 / Leukotrienes – create massive tissue destruction, increases oxidative stress
- PGE2 and LTB4 are produced from the Omega 6 fatty acid Arachidonic Acid/AA – see the blog on Omega 6 fatty acids for more information.
- Omega 3 fatty acid Eicosapentaenoic Acid/EPA block the production of PGE2 and LTB4 – see the blog on Omega 6 fatty acids for more information.
- NB! – the importance of balancing Omega 3 with Omega 6.
Causes of Acute inflammation
1. Biological harm
– Foreign bodies
– Immune reactions
2. Chemical harm
– Nickel and other trace elements.
3. Psychological harm
– Emotional stress
NB! – Symptoms can be severe.
Common symptoms of Acute Inflammation
- Heat / fever
- Reduced or Dysfunction
Causes of Chronic inflammation
1. Failure of eliminating the cause of acute inflammation
2. Exposure to a low level of a particular irritant or foreign material that the body has difficulty eliminating
3. An autoimmune disorder in which the immune system recognizes the normal component of the body as a foreign antigen, and attacks healthy tissue giving rise to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
4. A defect in the cells responsible for mediating inflammation leading to persistent or recurrent inflammation
5. Recurrent episodes of acute inflammation.
6. Inflammatory and biochemical inducers are causing oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction such as increased production of free radical molecules, advanced glycation end products (AGEs), uric acid (urate) crystals, oxidized lipoproteins, homocysteine, and others.
NB! – In some cases, chronic inflammation is an independent response and not a sequel to acute inflammation for example diseases such as tuberculosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Common symptoms of Chronic inflammation
- constant fatigue
- low grade fever
- depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
- body aches and pains
- gastrointestinal issues, like constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux, gut ache, etc
- poor digestion
- weight gain or weight loss
- frequent infections, such as Herpes sores in the corners of the mouth
- skin rashes
- excessive mucus
- swollen lymph nodes
- dark circles / bags under the eyes.
Statistics regarding Chronic Inflammation
- Chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death in the world.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks chronic diseases as the greatest threat to human health.
- Chronic Inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease/IBD, rheumatoid arthritis/RA and autoimmune conditions are estimated to affect 1 in 10 people in Europe.
- However, at present, the treatment options available are limited and ineffective, and there are no identified pathways to finding a cure.
- Between 33% and 50% of the UK population (just under 28 million adults) are affected by chronic pain.
- More than 40 % reported having one chronic disease and more than 15 % stated that they had at least two.
- The rate of people with at least one chronic condition in the UK is slightly higher than the EU average.
Diseases linked to chronic inflammation
Inflammation and the harmful chemicals it produces can contribute to all of the following conditions:
– Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
– Anxiety and depression
– High blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
– Type 2 diabetes
– Allergies and asthma
– Skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis
NB! – There’s no single test that can diagnose inflammation. Home tests on my webpage:
Inflammation symptom test
Diagnose if there is high inflammation in the body, but not why there is inflammation or where it is.
C-reactive protein (CRP)
- CRP is naturally produced in the liver in response to inflammation.
- High levels can occur in both acute and chronic inflammation,
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Sometimes called red blood cell sedimentation rate test.
- The quicker they sink, the more likely you’re experiencing inflammation.
- Measures the storage levels of iron where high levels can indicate inflammation.
- High levels are extremely toxic for the liver.
- Measures sulphated DHEA an anabolic hormone
- Low levels can indicate inflammation
- Low levels can indicate low sulphur in the diet – think of foods that smell of fart and add them to your diet.
Serum protein electrophoresis (SPE)
- Measures certain proteins where too much or too little can point to inflammation
- Measures the thickness of blood. Inflammation or infection can thicken plasma.
- Measure the amount of Interleukin 6 which is a proinflammatory signalling molecule
- High levels indicate high/aggressive inflammation.
- Tumour necrosis factor alpha measures the amount of interferon beta to interferon-alpha.
- Interferons are signalling proteins and alpha increases inflammation
- Measures a general autoimmune reaction
- A positive result tells of an autoimmune problem but not which disease it is
Blood and Immune cells
- Measures the different bloods cells, such as
- And immune cells like – IgA, IgE, IgD, etc.
- High levels indicate inflammation, allergy, infection.
Omega 3 to Omega 6
- A private test that measure, the ratio of 3 to 6 and the different types of omega 3’s and 6’s, such EPA, DHA and AA, etc.
- BUY YOUR TEST HERE
Based on other symptoms and what the doctor ‘believes’ the inflammation is due to:
- Colonoscopy or other gut related tests
NB! – Inflammation does not always require treatment.
- Together with good wound care often relieve the discomfort in a few days.
- Supplements may reduce inflammation and enhance repair, such as:
– vitamin A
– vitamin C
– vitamin D
- Spices with anti-inflammatory properties:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs/NSAIDs – over-the-counter medicines lower inflammation, such as:
- Steroid injection – Corticosteroid shots decrease inflammation in a specific joint or muscle, but no more than 2 max 3 steroid injections in the same body part per year.
- Home treatments
– Anti-inflammatory diet
– Remove all seed and plant oils and margarines
– Remove all processed foods
– Remove refined carbohydrates aka sugar
– Careful of restaurant foods, especially fast foods and fried foods
– Some research shows that a Mediterranean diet may lower inflammation.
– Eat more oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon or sardines.
– Olive oil.
- Medical treatments
– Corticosteroids which mimic the effects of cortisol, a powerful natural anti-inflammatory hormone the adrenal glands produce.
– Immunosuppressant medications, such as Methotrexate which dampen the immune system response.
– Biologics drugs made from living organisms, which are genetically engineered to target specific cells or proteins that control the inflammatory process.
Chronic low grade inflammation
- Not caused by a defined illness
– lifestyle changes are the mainstay of both prevention and treatment.