Inflammation:The common denominator of disease

Note: I will be reviewing a book on Inflammation this month, so I thought I would also reprint two articles on inflammation from other reliable sources, because I think this is a very important health topic. Here is the first one.

The Common Denominator of Disease by Barb Jarmoska, reprinted with permission from

When you hear the word inflammation, what do you think of? Swollen ankles? Aching knees? The red nose and itchy eyes of allergies?

For many years, inflammatory diseases were limited to arthritis, bursitis, rhinitis, tendonitis and the other diagnoses in the itis clan. These diagnoses are simply medical descriptions of symptoms. The suffix itis means inflammation. The prefix tells the location. Tendonitis = inflammation in a tendon. Bursitis = inflammation in a bursa (a fluid-filled sac that provides cushioning). It’s simple, descriptive language, not rocket science.

That said, over the past decade, the medical understanding of inflammation has broadened considerably. Heart disease is now recognized as a low-grade inflammation of the arteries. Cancer can result from chronic inflammation or infection that causes inflammation. Alzheimer’s is connected to inflammation in the brain. As cause or promoter, inflammation plays a fundamental role in every disease process.

So, where’s all this inflammation coming from? Primarily – two sources (and the good news is, you are in charge of both). Your own thoughts and deeds either contribute to or help reduce inflammation.

Inflammation is an extremely complex biological process that can be influenced by what you think about (worry, fear, and anger are all pro-inflammatory) and the choices you make regarding diet, movement, and lifestyle.

Sugar and other refined carbohydrates create inflammation. Wheat products (unless sprouted) can be a trigger for folks with Type A and O blood (about 80% of the population). Vegetable oils high in Omega 6 fats (corn, soy, & canola oil) promote inflammation, especially when eaten in quantities higher than foods with Omega 3 fats (flax and fish oils). Most foods can be classified as either pro- or anti- inflammatory, and this classification varies somewhat from person to person. By becoming aware of your inflammatory responses to certain foods, you can make better choices. (Any food that makes you want to clear your throat within 5 minutes of eating should be avoided!)

Movement is essential to preventing inflammation. Daily stretching of all the muscle groups and movement of all the joints goes a long way in keeping inflammation in check. Anyone who suffers from chronic inflammation can benefit from daily yoga and/or Qigong exercises.

Sleep allows the body to repair. Without adequate rest, inflammation can become chronic.

Short-term, the body’s inflammatory response is crucial to your survival. When it works, it works very well. However, if the inflammatory response does not stop after a short time, the prolonged release of inflammatory factors can cause tissue damage. It is this chronic and systemic inflammation that causes serious problems, as organs eventually weaken.

The trick then, is to make the choices and think the thoughts that keep inflammation in check.

Thanx, Barb!

P.S. The remnants of fall are in the gutters of streets. Here’s one near my condo. I am sad to see the leaves go, but the seasons are part of the cycle of Mother Nature.

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