By Dr. Alison Danby, ND Do you have gas, bloating, abdominal pain, or stool issues? You are not alone! Up…
Immediately after an acute injury (e.g. ligament sprain such as twisting an ankle, or a muscle strain) the body responds…
Inflammation is a considered to be a corrective, protective, adaptive and coordinated response triggered by an injury or infection. Typically it is beneficial when it’s well controlled and self resolving, we sprain an ankle it swells up, bruises and clears up in a few days to weeks. However problems arises when inflammation is triggered continuously, never resolving. This Chronic inflammation causes a cascade of pathological nightmares leading to several of illnesses such as heart disease, various cancers, joint diseases, Diabetes type II, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and Autoimmune conditions. Inflammation even speeds up the aging process!
A great deal of research has gone into understanding the process of inflammation, we are now starting to look at the chronic or pathological inflammatory, particularly systemic inflammation. The current approach to chronic and acute inflammation has been the same, to suppress it with several medications that “turn it off”.
Research is indicating that we need a more appropriate goal to support the healthy acute inflammation with its resolution while reducing the FACTORS that stimulate a more chronic systemic inflammatory picture. It is not usually possible to link chronic inflammation to one cause. There are many factors that can contribute to systemic inflammation. Lifestyle patterns, particularly nutritional choices, physical activity, stress levels, chemical exposure and your thoughts/ emotions all have a tremendous impact on how your genetics are turned on and off also affecting your immune/inflammatory system. Chronic inflammation needs a multi-faceted approach, and considering triggers is the first step.
Common inflammatory triggers are:
• Radiation: cells phones, airplanes, x-rays
• Injury, trauma
• Bacterial, viral or fungal infection
• Digestive problems (Dysbiosis, leaky gut)
• Food Allergies, Food Sensitivities
• Environmental Allergies
• Poor Diet: increase in sugar, bad fats, red meat/pork; LACK of FRUITS and VEGETABLES (malnutrition)
We need to consider all of these possible triggers when working with inflammation. There is no silver bullet. From a Functional Medicine perspective, we have to look at all of the possible root causes in order to achieve a resolution of symptoms. If you have a great diet but never sleep, or you buy all the best supplements but have undiscovered food sensitivities, you will have a hard time resolving inflammation. Consider seeing your Naturopathic Doctor so that you can arrive at a plan that works.
There are several foods and herbs that can help your body to bring down this level of inflammation and therefore reduce your levels of pain.
Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a diet rich in a variety of both fruits and vegetables will provide your body with a wealth of antioxidants. Antioxidants are a fuel for your body that will help to better modulate inflammation. Eating a variety of colours including greens, blue/purple, reds and orange/yellow will provide a nice balance to support various pathways that help lower inflammation in the body.
Fish contain omega 3 fatty acids that have a wealth of research showing they can modulate the amount of swelling or inflammation in the body. To achieve this reduction in inflammation you need to consume around 3g of the combination of EPA and DHA daily. This can be obtained by eating fatty fish such as salmon or via supplementation. Fish oils have great research on helping with inflammation in vessels which is one of the reasons it is helpful for cardiac health. We can also see reduction in neuroinflammation seen in concussion and well as skin inflammation seen in conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Turmeric is a commonly used spice in Indian dishes. Curcumin is one of the active components found in Turmeric that has great research showing it reduces pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis as well as inflammatory bowel disorders. Curcumin also supports healthy liver function so if you are using pain medications containing acetaminophen (Tylenol) adding curcumin can help protect your liver from damage. For general support in the body cooking with more turmeric can be very helpful. If there is a substantial amount of pain using a supplement with a standardized amount of curcumin will generally have a more powerful impact.
Boswellia has some specific research helping with joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and also inflammation in the gut seen in inflammatory bowel disorders. Since Boswellia is able to protect the intestinal tract it can also be protective for patients who are taking anti-inflammatory medications such as Naproxen, Aleve or Advil.
If you are in pain it is a great idea to book a visit with your Naturopathic doctor to help navigate the diet and supplements that would be best in your individual situation.