Inflammation - The Silent Killer
Pretend we are running down the street and suddenly trip and brace ourselves upon falling down. Pretend we land on our wrist wrong and suddenly it begins hurting and turning red. Next we notice it is swelling -- we know something is up. This is acute inflammation. Injuries like getting hit, burned, scraped, and sore neck are all types of acute inflammation.
The redness and swelling we see is extra blood being transported to the injury to clean and fix the problem. Our bodies have natural defense systems, and this is one of them. The loss of function and pain to the injured area is to remind us that we need to give that area a rest while our body naturally fixes the problem.
Clearly, acute inflammation is not a bad thing, but rather a good thing that keeps every one of us alive. We do something stupid, our body fixes our mistake, awesome. But what happens when these sort of things happen more regularly? When inflammation becomes a regular occurance is when Chronic Inflammation occurs. Diseases such as heart disease and obesity are associated with Inflammation. First lets look at other causes for inflammation.
-Toxic Diet (unfamiliar foods we are not adapted to digest such as sugar and other processed food)
-Low Omega 3, High Omega 6
-Leaky Gut Syndrome
-Not Enough Down Time (Recovery)
-Lack of Exercise
After looking at this list, it is easy to see why many people today are dealing with Chronic Inflammation. The two that stick out the most are toxic diet and lack of exercise. Of course chronic stress is another huge issue.
Inflammation and Disease
So it makes sense how acute inflammation works to help us and that there are factors that can lead to chronic inflammation. But how does inflammation go from helping our wounds to causing a heart attack?
Like insulin resistance, it is not completely clear what causes Chronic Inflammation, but we do know what increases our chances at getting it. Whichever factor affects chronic inflammation the most, what we do know is that inflammation turns bad when our body thinks we have an injury when we really don't.
Chronic Inflammation occurs when our body thinks we have a damage in a blood vessel (example) and send proteins (TNFa, NFkB, IL-6, CRP) to observe, fight, replicate, and clean the area. We get a huge roadblock in our blood vessel for no reason. This eventually can completely block the pathway leading to a heart attack. In some cases these proteins actually eat away tissue such as arthiritis.
Fat and Inflammation
The adipose tissue (fat on our body) is more than merely energy storage. Fat releases hormones such as leptin (hunger control) and cytokines (which include TNFa and IL-6). This makes sense how a toxic diet (which makes us fat) can lead to chronic inflammation. By having more fat than the body wants, our body will be releasing too many of these hormones into our blood, leading to chronic inflammation. Another reason why lean people lead healthier lives.
Foods that Cause Inflammation
-Trans Fats and Saturated Fat- hydrogenated oil found in crackers, cookies, etc
-Meat with high omega 6 content (grain fed cows) (Mcdonalds)
-Fatty Meat with Nitrates (Cheap bacon)
-Seed Oils - The term vegetable oil is a lie altogether. "vegetable oils" are actual soy, corn, canola, sasame)
***It is important to note that while saturated fat in pro-inflammatory, saturates like Unrefined Coconut Oil or Red Palm Oil are filled with anti-oxidants that are also anti-inflammatory.
Carbohydrates and Inflammation
As we know, excess glucose in the blood can lead to insulin resistance. But extra glucose in the blood (from excess carbs) also releases the two messenger proteins TNFa and IL-6 which in excess can eventurally cause a roadblock. This is another reason to limit carbohydrates until you need them with exercise or other activity.
At this point it is clear how these 4 messenger/fighter/cleanup proteins work to help fix our cuts and bruises, even sickness. Obviously it is less clear how these proteins affect chronic inflammation, but we are getting close. We do know that diet and life choices greatly affect our bodies natural ability to fight off disease. This is another great reason to switch to the Paleo diet.
On the Paleo Diet, trans fats are a non-issue. On the Paleo Diet, omega 6 fatty acids are reduced and omega 3 is increased. Seed oils are avoided and replaced with Omega 3 Grass Fed Butter and Unrefined Coconut Oil. Green Vegetables eaten on the Paleo Diet also are proven to be anti-inflammatory.
They call Inflammation the Silent Killer. We don't see it coming until it is too late. Now that we are learning the importance of inflammation, it is clearer than ever the importance to reduce the damage it can cause. The Paleo Diet is a great place to start.