Chronic inflammation is a common symptom in most degenerative diseases. These include certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, chronic obesity, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury. Think of inflammation in relation to the swelling around a sprained ankle. The body handles this injury by sending certain chemicals to the area to start tissue repair. On the surface, this looks like swelling, but underneath the skin, much is going on to repair the damage and restore health to the ankle.
“Chronic inflammation” is a systemic response to injury. What is significant about chronic inflammation is that it triggers the genes within us that are preprogrammed to certain diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. Each person reacts differently to prolonged inflammation, yet it will eventually break down organ function, weaken the heart muscle and cause conditions that lead to diabetes or even cancer.
There are a few major contributors to inflammation. They are high blood sugar, acid pH, food sensitivities and oxidation. Eating foods made with white flour and white sugar along with fried foods leads to high blood sugar, acid pH and /or oxidative stress – all contributors to inflammation.
Inflammation is a response to our lifestyle. If we eat foods that are highly acidifying, that cause high blood sugar and promote oxidative stress, then our genes will respond with inflammation and disease.
Controlling inflammation is a key to preventing and / or limiting degenerative disease. Several classes of nutritional supplements all work towards fighting inflammation. These include enzymes, anti-oxidants, essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, herbs and probiotics.
Some of the better formulations for anti-inflammatory products include molecularly distilled omega 3 oils with high ratios of EPA and DHA; herbal blends such as Zyflamend by New Chapter that contain turmeric, ginger, and rosemary; enzyme formulations that are specifically for inflammation such as Intenzyme or Wobenzyme; and herbal juice formulations such as noni and mangosteen that are both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Major antioxidants such as pycnogenol and resveratrol also seem to help reduce inflammation and to protect genes.
The best approach to controlling inflammation begins with choices you can make. Stop eating pro-inflammatory foods such as those made from white flour and white sugar. Remove hydrogenated oils from shortening, margarine and fried foods from your diet. Add healthy, anti-inflammatory oils such as olive oil, macadamia nut oil, flax oil and fish oil to your diet. Eat plenty of alkalizing fruits and vegetables. Avoid acidifying foods such as sodas, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, white sugar and white flour. Also exercise moderately.
You can outsmart your inflammation. Although you may have a genetic predisposition to certain conditions, you can control the factors that activate those genes so that you can avoid or limit the condition.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.