Inflammation – An Epidemic

Allergies, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, skin disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and many other common illnesses and health challenges are closely linked to chronic inflammation. Inflammation is now considered to be a more important risk factor for heart disease than high cholesterol levels. 

Standard treatment for chronic inflammation is a variety of anti-inflammatory medications; prednisone, Lipitor, Crestor, and ibuprofen are just a few that you may be familiar with.  The challenge is these medications don’t address the cause of the inflammation or reverse the disease process.  They are a temporary bandage, treating the symptoms of inflammation.  Remove the bandage and the problem is still there.  In addition many of these medications bring with them serious side effects that may leave you with a whole new host of health problems to deal with.

Of course inflammation at times is essential, it is a protective response that destroys or dilutes any threat to our cells.  Inflammation is also healing in that it stimulates cell regeneration.  Inflammation becomes a problem when it becomes chronic.  Why does this happen?

The body (our cells) are continuously being attacked.  They are bombarded by microorganisms, chemical by-products of normal metabolism, environmental toxins, alcohol, tobacco, food additives, our own immune system (allergies) and even from our emotions.  Our cells work hard to remain in a state of homeostasis but if attacked too often cell injury occurs and chronic inflammation may start.

Pretend that everyone has an empty bucket inside their body.  The size of a person’s bucket depends on genetics.  So some people are born with a small bucket and some people have a larger bucket.  All the threats to our cells go in this bucket and start filling it up and positive activities such as sleep, good nutrition, meditation, laughter, etc. help empty the bucket.  If you have a genetically small bucket and drink a lot of caffeine, regularly consume alcohol, and eat processed foods this may be all you need to fill your bucket.  Once your bucket is full your body cannot stay in a state of health, all the toxins in your bucket spread and you are in a state of chronic inflammation.  How this inflammation manifests is different for everyone, depending again on genetics.  It may be heart disease you experience or you may develop digestive troubles and irritable bowel syndrome.

Don’t wait for ill health to discover how full your bucket is!  Or perhaps you have already discovered that your bucket is overflowing?

Next week we’ll start putting together an anti-inflammatory plan to help keep your bucket empty.  We’ll start by looking at beverages.  You can start thinking about how much caffeine, alcohol, sugar and chemicals you get every day in your drinks.  Are unnecessary beverages filling up your bucket?