Inflammation…The Good and The Bad

Staying healthy is a challenge. It's hard to resist that birthday cake, a glass of wine, getting enough sleep, and exercising on a regular basis. But one thing you can address directly is chronic inflammation.

Inflammation is a vital part of the body's immune response, it is the body's attempt to heal itself after an injury. Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses; and repair damaged tissue. Without inflammation, wounds would fester. However, Inflammation can also be problematic. Too much of an inflammatory response can cause the immune system to mistakenly target healthy tissue, leading the body to attack itself.

Acute vs. Chronic

Acute inflammation arises after a cut or scrape in the skin, a sprained ankle, a sore throat or even intense training or exercise. It is short-term and the effects subside after a few days.

Chronic inflammation is long-term and can last for several months, even years. According to Medical News Today, it is a failure to eliminate whatever was causing acute inflammation or an autoimmune response where the immune system attacks normal healthy tissue, mistaking it for harmful pathogens. With chronic inflammation the body sends an inflammatory response to a perceived internal threat. An army of white blood cells swarms the area, but because they have nothing to fix, they eventually start attacking healthy tissues, cells, and organs. This can lead to differing autoimmune diseases.

Time magazine inflammation

The Secret Killer as labeled by Time Magazine Cover in 2004

Most the time we are aware of our body’s response because there is pain, stiffness, and discomfort associated with inflammation. But there is another form known as low grade or cellular inflammation. This type of inflammation is below our pain perception, meaning we might not feel it. It can persist for years, eventually leading to many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer and even cancer.

What you can do:

For Acute or Chronic inflammation, most doctors will likely prescribe Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or something ending in “oids” meaning steroids. But who wants to be popping pills forever? Plus the side effects associated with steroids are vast, often leading to other unwanted conditions such as acne, weight gain and body hair to name just a few. CBS News put out an article in May, 2017 titled NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen increase heart attack risk. The study, published in The BMJ, found that all commonly used NSAIDsibuprofen and naproxen, which are available over the counter; and diclofenac and celecoxib, which require prescriptions in the U.S. – were associated with this increased risk.

While treating chronic inflammation looks different for everyone, the primary drug should be food. Foods rich in omega-3s such as fish, turmeric, blueberries, ginger, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, pineapple, spinach, garlic, broccoli, beets, and so many more help fight inflammation.

The main foods to avoid that cause inflammation are: sugar, processed meat, vegetable oil, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners and additives, and excessive alcohol.

At CryoVigor, we also like to add regular Whole Body Cryotherapy sessions as a means to fight acute, chronic and cellular inflammation. Call 212.920.7440 to book your session today.

Kathy Butters