Hello and happy Monday! Today I decided to write about low-grade inflammation. I’ll divide this post to two parts and in this first part I’ll provide general information about low-grade inflammation and try to define it. I’ll also try to point out which kind of diseases low-grade inflammation could be linked to. In the second part I’ll outline the principles for the lifestyle and habits that can relieve and/or prevent low-grade inflammation. Low-grade inflammation has recently been quite a lot in the headlines in different contexts. For example it has been brought to the discourse on lifestyle related diseases and other chronic diseases. It has been been brought up that musculoskeletal diseases like osteoarthritis or back problems could be partly linked to low-grade inflammation. In the viewpoint of naprapathy this is quite interesting as we deal with these musculoskeletal problems. There remains quite a lot of scientific research on this subject. In different studies there is promising evidence for example on dietary changes in the osteoarthritis treatment.
What inflammation? Low-grade inflammation means constant small inflammatory state in the body. In this state inflammatory agents can be found if tested in laboratory. Examples of these inflammatory agents are for example prostaglandins, tumor necrosis factor, free oxygen radicals and bradykinin. These same inflammatory agents are secreted when there is a tissue injury for example a wound in a finger. When there is for example that wound in the finger the inflammatory agents sensitize the pain receptors which makes you to guard the site of the injury and like this enables the healing process to take place. If one would oversimplify things it would be easy to assume that if there is constantly these inflammatory agents during the low-grade inflammation, it would lead to chronic pain. Of course it’s quite naive to make straightforward conclusions like this because for instance the contents of the the inflammatory agents are totally different in these two conditions. Anyways what we can do, we can ask the question what if the low-grade inflammation is tolerated for longer period of time?
Inflammation – the two sides of the same coin. If we take a step back and try to figure out the beneficial aspects of the inflammatory reaction in the tissues and delve into the biological base of it we find that inflammation is actually natural and useful process in the body. The tissue injuries heal through a certain process that has different phases. Roughly there are four phases. The first phase is coagulation. For example if there is a wound in a finger the blood starts to coagulate there. The second phase is a local inflammation in the wound area. In the third phase the cells start to proliferate and in the forth phase the remodeling of the injury area takes place through the production of scar tissue and new for example skin tissue. So no need to think inflammation is only a bad thing. It has many important implications in the body. The important thing to note is the timeline. Inflammation induced by a tissue injury in a healthy person resolves spontaneously during the injury healing process.
What if there are constantly inflammatory agents in the body? It has been proposed that this could predispose to musculoskeletal pain for example osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. However there is still a debate in the scientific research if the low-grade inflammation is a partial reason to osteoarthritis or whether low-grade inflammation is rather the consequence of the unfavorable stress to the joints. It has been also proposed that many inflammatory diseases would be partially linked to low-grade inflammation. These are for example inflammatory bowel diseases, fibromyalgia, type II diabetes, Alzheimers disease and heart and vascular diseases.
The western lifestyle and diet predisposes to the low-grade inflammation. Low-grade inflammation can develop if the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio isn’t optimal and the diet is plain and contains a lot of processed foods and lacks vegetables and fruits. Also passive lifestyle, obesity, smoking and stress could be contributing factors to low-grade inflammation. Therefore this is not really anything new. I’m sure most of us know already knows this. As a conclusion I might say that low-grade inflammation is one of those things you can really influence with your own lifestyle choices. To some of us this might be liberating but others might feel anxious. It’s liberating that you can influence yourself to your own health but on the other hand it’s challenging to change ones habits and this might make you feel anxious. In the second part of this post my aim is to compile practical advice considering lifestyle to alleviate or prevent low-grade inflammation.
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