People are experiencing more inflammation today than ever before. They’re also being exposed to environmental and lifestyle inflammatory catalysts making it more challenging to fight chronic inflammation.
What Is Inflammation
Traditionally, inflammation was defined as a localized physical condition where bodily tissues become reddened, swollen, hot, and painful—primarily as a reaction to injury or infection. This typical definition, though, really only captures the symptomatic experience of acute inflammation.
Acute VS Chronic Inflammation
The medical community has acknowledged that inflammation is a symptom of infectious diseases. In an acute setting, the body encounters an insult, and the inflammation signals to the body something is wrong. Internally, white blood cells and other infection-fighting molecules in the body swarm the infected site to fight off the bacteria, virus, or parasitic invader. Inflammation also tells people the body might need a little help killing the infection. Thus, medical professionals administer medicine to rid the body of inflammation and the dangerous infection.
The human body is incredible, from an epidemiological (or public health) perspective, inflammation caused severe symptoms that told communities certain individuals were sick and needed treatment— mainly to avoid the community as a whole becoming sick. Epidemiological researchers are now focusing their efforts on a new category of sicknesses that are not contagious but causing communities to become ill—chronic illness.
Research is showing that a broad range of chronic illnesses or non-infectious diseases (perhaps all of them) is intimately linked with inflammation. Examples of common chronic or non-infectious disease states are cardiovascular conditions, auto-immune disorders, food sensitivities, type 2 diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer. Some of these conditions are extremely frustrating for individuals because they feel the effects of inflammation, but conventional medicine uses diagnostic testing methods that do not capture the problem’s root. (Many tests simply are not designed to detect these illnesses.)
Why Are We Seeing More Chronic Inflammation
The 21st century has seen a rise in chronic inflammation cases, mainly due to lifestyle and environmental inflammation triggers—these two factors usually being one and the same. People also see an increase in autoimmune conditions and obscure food sensitivities most likely because of our bodies becoming overly responsive.
Our World Is a Toxic Place
A report in 2014 in the publication Translational Neurodegeneration detailed an increased prevalence of neurodegenerative disease within the past 6 years. Although populations are growing and people are living longer, the researchers of this report still suspect environmental toxins are to blame for this brain inflammation—and possibly other diseases too.
Pesticides are used on a daily basis to grow the food people eat. Many of these chemical compounds are known carcinogens but are poorly regulated—especially in the United States. People are also rubbing chemicals that are hormone receptors/inhibitors as well as carcinogens on their bodies through their personal care products. Home cleaning products also have active components that indiscriminately and harshly eliminate dirt, grime, bacteria, and other substances not typically wanted in the home. A majority of scientists agree the manufacturing of these toxins is contaminating our air, water, and, eventually, our bloodstreams.
The long and short—we are regularly exposed to toxins that are incredibly potent in large quantities. As these chemicals are designed to wipe out microbial organisms—which are living organisms—we are destroying the microbiology but, also, ourselves.
High Temperatures Are Causing Oxidative Stress
Scientists are reporting record high temperatures in 2018. Human cells typically start to die at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Apoptosis—or cell death—is partly because of oxidation.
Oxidation in biochemistry refers to the process when electrons are lost to free radicals. Our bodies are constantly under oxidative stress. Just like an apple or a car, our bodies will brown, rust, or decay. The consumption of anti-oxidants counteracts this process. Oxidation is the imbalance between the systemic manifestation of reactive oxygen species and the organism’s ability to detoxify or to repair the resulting damage.
Across all domains of life (plants, bacteria, animals, etc.) high temperatures cause oxidative stress. High temperatures prevent organisms from growing or regenerating once the environment reaches a temperature threshold. Even more so today, anti-oxidants are essential to prevent free radical damage caused by oxidative stress.
Food Is Less Nutritious
The main reasons food is currently less nutritious are due to how we grow, harvest, and process. Food can be a remedy for inflammation. The way it is being produced could cause more harm than good.
Farming has changed since the 1950’s. Farmers used to grow food with organic matter—manure. And, the term “organic” in this context is slightly different from the “organic” we see in grocery stores. Organic matter merely means matter derived from a recently living organism.
As mentioned previously, food is doused in pesticides. Worms and microbiomes give soil its nutrients. Unfortunately, strong pesticides kill these two nutrient providers.
Supply chains of food create an amazing network that can connect people to exotic fruits and vegetables. There is a downside to large supply chains, though. Once a plant is picked from the stem, the nutritional value depletes, and senescence—the biochemical term for deterioration—exponentially increases. Genetically modified organisms are used to alter the natural life cycle of fruits and vegetables. The question then becomes, are these genetically modified foods good for the human life cycle?
Processing also exposes humans to some risks. Processed food and junk food contain harmful ingredients that contribute to poor health. The problem with processed foods is many. One particular issue is an imbalance of minerals, most lacking vital minerals like potassium and overloaded with sodium.
How to Reduce Inflammation
Considering all the lifestyle and environmental inflammation-generating substances around us, it’s worth asking the question is it even possible to reduce inflammation in our bodies? The answer is—YES.
Over the next 6 weeks, YM will intimately discuss what inflammation is, how inflammation damages the body, inflammatory foods, key nutrients needed to reduce inflammation in bodily tissues, and delicious practical recipes in our Diet and Inflammation series.
Get ready for a fact-filled series of articles complete with illustrations, worksheets, and more that will lay out the path to treat food like medicine and get you feeling better. If you feel tired, bloated, and uncomfortable after eating or in general, the 6-week Diet and Inflammation series is for you.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive the rest of the series.