By Helly Bartolome Hernandez Marin, MD
For several years inflammation has been considered a harmful process involved in the development of a large number of pathologies that compromise the quality of life of people such as arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, and even Alzheimer's disease. However, inflammation is a natural process of the body that is put on the skin to protect the body; therefore there is much confusion around the idea of whether the inflammation is good or bad. Below we will clarify certain aspects regarding inflammation, what it is, how it manifests itself and how it is affecting you.
What is inflammation?
The immune system is the defense system of the body, which is made up of a set of organs and cells responsible for defending the body from any potentially harmful situation. The immune system is also able to eliminate cells that no longer work or function poorly. If a tumor cell is detected, the immune system induces its apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Inflammation is a process triggered by the immune system to protect and repair tissues from any injury caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, etc. When there is a tissue injury, for example, a wound, the immune system activates a set of mechanisms that lead to inflammation and subsequent healing of the injured tissue.
When does it happen?
When the organism identifies damage or a foreign agent, the inflammatory process is initiated, which begins with the migration of white blood cells to the affected area, these cells are responsible for destroying microorganisms and limiting tissue damage. Subsequently, the synthesis of collagen and other proteins necessary for the repair of injured tissues occurs, this process is carried out by connective tissue cells called fibroblasts. Inflammation is a necessary process, without it we would be defenseless against viruses and bacteria and could never be cured.
When is it not good?
Although inflammation is an important part of the body's defense mechanisms, when there is an imbalance in its regulation, it can cause great damage to the organism. Like everything in life, it is necessary that there is a balance between the proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory elements.
What causes harmful inflammation?
The reality is that many of the habits of modern life are capable of triggering a chronic and uncontrolled inflammatory process that compromises the health of the individual. Stress, poor diet, smoking, and not getting enough sleep are the main factors that lead to this situation.
How can I avoid 'bad' inflammation?
Several studies have shown that trans fats increase oxidative stress and the production of free radicals, which promotes an inflammatory environment in the body. In addition, the excess in the consumption of simple carbohydrates and processed sugars considerably raise the levels of pro-inflammatory hormones such as insulin. The additives and preservatives present in some foods are capable of altering the intestinal microbiome, which profoundly influences the immune system. If you want to avoid inflammation, we recommend you stay away from this type of food and start a healthy diet.
What foods fight inflammation?
It is recommended to maintain a diet with a high fiber content as it displaces unwanted foods and allows the elimination of toxins. The healthy fats present in olive oil, avocado, and nuts are a great ally. Also, it is also recommended to incorporate more protein of vegetable origin into the diet and increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
What else can I do?
Sleeping well not only reduces inflammation, but it also improves your cardiovascular health, decreases depression, and balances your immune system.
Eliminate stress is essential to combat inflammation, we recommend doing yoga, meditation or take aromatic baths three times a week.
Exercise is another powerful anti-inflammatory, especially when practiced regularly. It has been proven that aerobic exercise can reduce insulin and cholesterol levels, which reduces inflammation and increases blood flow to the tissues.