is this the 21st century's silent killer!?...

Inflammation is more than just the current health 'buzzword' - it is the factor scientists are pointing to as the potential root of most diseases.

What do cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, fibromyalgia, obesity, depression and arthritis have in common?  Aside from being chronic illnesses, these diseases are being grouped together by scientists who believe chronic inflammation is the single biggest contributing factor to each of them.

This news, researched and backed up in study after study, is particularly interesting in that it is only relatively recently that the medical fraternity has come to show that inflammation - a part of the body's natural defence system - can go rogue and turn this defence into an attack, and to accept that this is potentially the root of all degenerative diseases.

When a ‘Good’ thing turns Bad
If you have ever burnt yourself while pulling dinner out of the oven you will know exactly what inflammation is - it is the bright red mark that immediately pops up, and the blister that follows. It is the purple bruise after a knock, the swelling after a twisted ankle, or the red heat around an infected tooth. Essentially it is the body’s built-in, first-aid response to an injury, to prevent further infection and assist the body's repair processes.

This acute inflammatory response - where the body identifies which cells are damaged and require repair - switches on when it is needed and then retreats when it is not. But when it doesn't retreat, pro-inflammatory cells continue to be stimulated, eventually becoming highly destructive, resulting in chronic inflammation. When this state continues it can lead to the expression of genes that can trigger major diseases - primarily coronary artery disease and cancer.

How does the Switch from Acute to Chronic occur?
Chronic inflammation can occur in two ways: either because of repeated exposure to an offender such as Candida - in which case the body never gets a rest from the acute inflammation phase - or because it is triggered by cellular stress and dysfunction caused by diet and environmental factors. Once chronic inflammation settles in and spreads, it can result in metabolic collapse, resulting in long-term damage.    

This cellular stress is essentially a breakdown in communication between your body's innate immune system (what you are born with) and your acquired immune system (which develops according to the environment, toxins and allergens you are exposed to).

How do I know I have it?
In contrast to acute inflammation, which makes itself felt, chronic inflammation is more insidious in that it often falls just below the point at which you would clearly identify it as 'pain'. Because of this chronic inflammation is sometimes referred to as ‘silent’ inflammation.

However, there are some signs to look out for: general congestion and stuffiness, body aches and pains, lethargy, digestive troubles such as indigestion, stiffness or swelling around joints, shortness of breath, poor complexion or acne, and weight gain. 

These, of course, can also be symptoms of a myriad of other problems, which further complicates matters when trying to get a diagnosis, and because they might be vague, test results might not show anything out of the ordinary.

If you feel that you have been suffering from these symptoms, or have had an unexplained few years of ‘just not feeling well’, the first test to ask you doctor about is the C Reactive Protein (CRP) test.  When the innate and acquired immune systems communicate with one another through a series of bio-chemical reactions, they turn the inflammatory response on and off. But is this response isn’t turned off, this test will show an increase in CRP, even if there is no obvious reason for that inflammatory response to have been activated.  Incidentally CRP is also used to assess your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Who is Most at Risk?
There are a number of groups who are at greater risk of their body’s inflammatory response not shutting off when it is no longer required. Older adults form the biggest of these groups - it is believed the older you are the higher the chance that you have consistently raised levels of inflammatory markers. And while it is not yet fully understood why, perimenopausal and menopausal women are believed to be most at risk, which could go some way to understanding why women are more likely than men to have an auto-immune disease.

Obesity is thought to be another risk factor, as are low sex hormones, which help modulate the inflammatory response and which decrease after menopause, and a diet high in saturated fat.

Reduce Inflammation Starting NOW
Aside from drug therapies prescribed by a physician there are several lifestyle changes that you can implement relatively easily:

1. Balance your omega 6 and omega 3 levels by upping your intake of fatty fish, nuts and seeds which are high in Omega 3.
2. Reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet.
3. Get enough sleep.
4. Take a probiotic.
5. Reduce your stress levels.
6. Increase your exercise, even if it is just adding in three 10-minute bursts four days a week.
7. Get enough fibre in your diet.

Exercise is a must even if it is just a brisk walk (with your dog?)!

Healing Ingredients
These ingredients are great anti-inflammatories: Oily fish, Avocado, Berries, Oats and oat bran, Green, leafy vegetables, Citrus fruits, Onion, Low glycaemic-index foods such as whole-grains. Spices, include garlic, ginger, rosemary, turmeric and oregano.

» Recommend Supplements: Probiotics, Krill Oil, Progesterone, DHEA, Rhodiola, Melatonin.
» More Health Bites... click here