INFLAMMATION The latin word for inflammation is itis.
Inflammation is a natural immune system response - when the body has an infection, injury, lack of sleep, stress, toxin exposure, excess a exercise and being overweight, (the more overweight, the more inflammation). The normal signs of inflammation are heat, pain, redness, and swelling, this is the first sign that your immune system is kicking in. This response allows white blood cells to clear out infection and damaged tissue. Once the threat has been taken care off our anti inflammatory compounds are released to switch the response off. The problem happens when the anti inflammatory response is not activated and building scar tissue and swelling doesn’t get switched off. There are many reasons why this would happen, but many medical scientists now believe that diet plays the biggest role. Continuing rising allergy rates, IBS, obesity and chronic pain are indications that we may be storing up trouble for more serious problems in older age.
The Mediterranean diet is full of anti-inflammatory effects, with lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and omega 3 fatty acids. When our bodies are well nourished we heal better.
Processed, packaged and prepared food has the opposite effect with its high omega 6 oils and sometimes trans fats, sugar, and food additives Most polyunsaturated vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy, are high in omega-6 essential fatty acid which can cause inflammation when taken to excess, and contain almost no essential omega 3 oils which soothe inflammation.
Omega 3 is found in fish, nuts, and seeds. We should eat an equal amount of omega 3 and 6 oils on a daily basis for a more balanced diet.
Before the industrial age our ancesters ate omega 6 and omega 3 oils in a ratio of 1.1, now the ratio is somewhere between 10.1 and 20.1.
Refined sugars and foods with a high glycaemic value raise insulin levels which puts strain on our immune systems. High insulin levels activate enzymes which raise levels of omega 6 in our blood.
Stress is also an important factor in chronic inflammation and pain. Persisitent stress increases cortisol levels which also has a direct influence on insulin levels and hormones, and therefore lowers our immune system allowing inflammation levels to become chronic.