Understanding Inflammation

Posted by Scott McKenzie on 11/10/2016 to Health Tips

When most people think of inflammation, they tend to think of the joints, muscles and tendons. However, inflammation is so much more than arthritis, tendinitis or age related physical stress.  Inflammation is actually a whole body response to a variety of threats posed to the body's immune system. The immune system detects the threats and activates various proteins to protect the cells from damage caused by stress, depression, infection, chemicals in our environment, viruses, bacteria, sugary, salty or high fat foods and immune disorders.

When we think of inflammation, we don"t necessarily think of stress as a factor. Yet, during stressful periods, the immune system will activate C-reactive proteins which govern our "flight or fight" tendencies. This response inflames stress levels and boosts adrenaline. In the "heat of the moment" this response is warranted and may even be beneficial depending on the situation. However, continual stress bringing the constant reaction of the C-reactive proteins can factor into many chronic health conditions such as Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Colitis. People affected by digestive disorders linked to this chronic inflammation can be at risk of poor bone health due to the fact that digestive disorders can prevent the absorption of bone building nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium.

The build-up of plaque in the blood vessels can lead to inflammation of the arteries, which in turn can lead to blood clots, high cholesterol and eventually inflammatory heart disease in at risk individuals. Inflammation caused by plaque can also affect the mouth with periodontal disease. Periodontal disease causes the gums to recede and damages the structure around the teeth, weakening the teeth and causing a host of dental issues. Various studies have shown that people with periodontal disease caused by the inflammation of the gums are at a higher risk of heart disease and dementia late life.

Inflammation can cause fluid to fill the lungs leading to various respiratory infections, asthma, and COPD or emphysema. The general consensus in the medical field links inflammation of the lungs and the chronic conditions it causes to chemicals in the home, obesity, pollution, and smoking. Higher levels of inflammation in the bodies of obese individuals have also been linked to various cancers. A Harvard University study from 2014 found that teens with obesity issues had a 63% higher risk of developing colon cancer later in life than their fit peers.

Chronic inflammation affects the skin causing psoriasis, an autoimmune response occurring when the skin cells grow too rapidly. Some studies actually link the chronic inflammation of the skin to faster cell aging causing the formation of wrinkles and eventual age related deterioration of the epidermis.

All in all, health experts tend to agree that staving off some of the effects of inflammation can be tied to maintaining a healthy environment, moderate physical activity and a well-balanced diet rich in superfoods like the aronia berry. In fact, various studies performed on the Chokeberry/Aronia Berry show many promising signs. It should be interesting to observe the conclusions that come from each of these studies regarding the "power of purple" and I very much look forward to sharing the findings with you in the future. In the meantime, keep eating purple.