Inflammation, friend and foe.
Generally speaking, the definition of inflammation is our body's immune system's localized response to an infection or trauma. Inflammation manifests as swelling, redness, heat, pain, and loss of function. It is the defense mechanism within the body that is essential to the body's healing system.
Inflammation is most commonly categorized as acute or chronic inflammation. An example of acute inflammation is the swelling and redness one may experience after spraining an ankle or cutting a finger.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can continue for several months to years. Chronic inflammation occurs when the body continues to produce white blood cells and chemical messengers that keep the immune system's response in high gear. Science has shown that chronic inflammation contributes to type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and depression.
Something I learned a long ago is that the body is a great communicator and body awareness is priceless in assisting us to heal our bodies. When I am experiencing pain, discomfort of any kind, or simply something that seems "off" to me, I begin to seek the origin of the cause. I prefer to treat the cause and not the symptom. I want to
identify the source of the inflammation to prevent it from manifesting into something greater that is not to my benefit.
A great analogy of treating the symptom and not the cause is if you replace the light bulb when your car's dashboard engine light comes on instead of finding out what is causing the light to come on in the first place. The pain caused by inflammation, for example, is the body communicating that something bigger is going on within the body.
Identifying the cause, on my part, has taken devotion; however, the payoff has been worth every moment! Lifestyle changes are a great support to those experiencing chronic inflammation until the cause is discovered. Eliminating foods that exacerbate inflammatory symptoms, which can be wheat, dairy, and canola oil, and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods, such as turmeric and ginger, provide much sought-after relief.