Inflammation – The Body’s Natural Response to Injury – Friend or Foe?

botanic garden

There has been much dialogue in recent times, regarding inflammation within the body and how it can cause a number of diseases or make an illness worse. However, there are times when the human body needs inflammation or swelling to occur, in order to heal. To ensure that our bodies are healthy and able to repair itself, it is important to understand and know the difference between good and bad inflammation; the times when it’s crucial to allow it to occur and in other situations, when it’s not helpful for the body.

Inflammation-The Body’s Natural Response

The body’s reaction to trauma or infection is a defence mechanism, in the same way that our bodies react to stress, with the fight or flight mode. It is an integral part of our system, which is inherent within us to let us know that there is a problem within the body that we need to be aware of. After a sprain or injury, blood flow increases and the vessels expand to allow oxygen, white blood cells and clotting agents to infiltrate and repair the damaged area. It is imperative that this process happens. Without it, healing would not be viable and we would continue to cause more damage to the affected area.

Inflamed knee joint

When Inflammation Can Heal

In 2011, a study conducted by Dr.Umut Ozcan found that in contradiction to what was originally believed, inflammation may not be the enemy that was once thought. He found that when inflammation occurred, 2 proteins were activated which stabilised blood sugar levels in mice who were obese or who had diabetes. For over 20 years, inflammation was seen as a hindrance to obesity and diabetes but with the new findings, it seems that in these cases it is actually of benefit.

When Inflammation Can Harm

Conditions such as arthritis, asthma, Parkinson’s and cancer have long been associated with chronic inflammation of the system. Inflammation can be caused by a number of things; from lifestyle to general illness. Eating fatty and/or sugary foods and stress are lifestyle factors. The fight or flight mode encourages inflammation so we can deal with stressful episodes in our lives, but if our bodies are dealing with prolonged stress, chronic inflammation sets in. Contracting a virus or bacteria which affects the body’s immune system is another way inflammation can be encouraged. Our immune cells begin to overreact and this is where chronic inflammation can begin, causing untold damage and sowing the seeds for more persistent and life-changing conditions.

How To Live Healthily

As with most things, moderation is the key. Luckily, the diet and supplements recommended to combat chronic inflammation are the same that are advocated for a healthy lifestyle. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, the fewer processed foods the better and eliminate chronic stress from your life! Natural products like Ginger and Boswelia are great for the body, being full of antioxidants. Combined with the fact that they are anti-inflammatory too, making them an ideal supplement for general health.