Inflammation and the immune system -- how to stop clusters that cause ailments

Wellness RN

Jenn CorbettJanuary 26, 2012 

One of the new hot button issues being discussed in the medical community is inflammation and its affect on the body in terms of chronic illness. Recent studies have pointed to chronic inflammation as a root cause of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and allergies.

Let's review a little science on inflammation. Inflammation all starts with the immune system. The immune system is the body's first line of defense against harm. When you are injured or sick your bone marrow releases white blood cells to search out infection and jump start the healing process. Sometimes the immune system gets a faulty distress signal and deploys unnecessary white blood cells. Those misguided white blood cells mobilize to fight, but because there is no infection for them to attack, they end up clustered.

That cluster of unused, undirected white blood cells is inflammation. Our body is not made to accommodate this kind of unfocused immune activity so those white blood cells start damaging your internal organs and assaulting other cells the body uses to ward off disease. The end result is a body that is unprotected from some chronic illness and disease. The great news is that top inflammation triggers have been identified so we can do our part in decreasing this unwanted attack on our system.

Top inflammation triggers:

Carrying excess weight: Swollen fat cells trigger the immune system to send white blood cells to protect the other cells causing all-over inflammation. Over time they have found that this inflammation causes the healthy cells to resist insulin which in turn can lead to diabetes.

Eating high-sugar, high-carb, high-fat foods: Foods that quickly dump excess fat and sugar into the blood stream set off the immune response causing the inflammation process to begin.

Experiencing high anxiety: Basically the fight or flight system is working here. It has been proven that with the release of the stress hormone cortisol, a signal to the immune system is given to protect its host (your body). This protection response over time acts as an inflammatory response.

Breathing bad air: This is in the form of cigarette smoke, smog, or other air pollutants. All of these things are an assault on the lungs. The immune system rushes to fix the problem, often times overcompensating and rather than healing, the white blood cells end up in excess leading to problems such as lung disease.

Top inflammation fighters:

Eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids: Studies are now proving that Omega-3's (the good fat) work to dial down the over accumulation of white blood cells.

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables: Plants are a known inflammation fighter, full of anti-inflammatory elements such as magnesium, antioxidants and carotenoids.

Get moving: Exercise has a powerful effect on inflammation. It helps you break down and sweat out those over-released white blood cells. It is recommended that in our over-consuming, stress-filled society we need 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days to beat the inflammation.

When grocery shopping, begin to think about what foods you can add to your cart to help fight inflammation. Here are a few of my favorites: Greens, blueberries, salmon, flax seed and legumes.

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