By Dr. Alejandro Junger
Inflammation is the new archenemy in most people’s minds. Everyone is trying to combat inflammation with lifestyle, nutrition, supplements, and medications. There is a good reason for that: Most chronic diseases of the modern world are preceded by long periods of inflammation. Cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease, arthritis, dementia, and autoimmunity are all considered inflammatory diseases.
But inflammation is really a survival and adaptation mechanism. It is one of the essential tools of your immune and repair systems. Inflammation is keeping you alive moment to moment. Your body is experiencing injuries and is exposed to microorganisms all the time especially at the level of your skin, your lungs, and your intestines, where the body encounters the outside world. Injuries have to be healed and repaired. Microorganisms have to be attacked and killed.
Inflammation creates the right conditions for immunity and repair. Let’s say you cut your finger. The injured cells will spill the insides into their surroundings. Sentient immune cells in the area will detect them and trigger a chain of reactions that will result in changes in the local physiology. Small blood vessels in the area become more permeable allowing circulating white blood cells to cross the arterial wall and migrate to where they are needed. Other fluids leave the blood vessels as well to carry nutrients and antioxidants that will be required to attack possible invading microorganisms and repair tissues. This causes the area to swell. The local blood vessels will dilate, further contributing to the engorging of the area, making it warmer and red in appearance. A higher temperature is better for the defense and repair cells and mechanisms to do their work. The nerve terminals in the area get triggered as well, causing pain. This will prevent you from using your finger and pay attention to it. Those are the 4 cardinal signs of inflammation: dolore (pain), rubore (red), tumore (swelling) calore (warm). Your finger will swell, hurt, get red, and warm.
For the most part, when in nature, animals get micro-injuries all the time, and inflammation is always going on in different spots around their body. Sometimes, even in nature, inflammation is necessary on a grand scale, all over the body, like when a big viral load is introduced and gets into the circulation. A common example is a flu. The virus may enter by air, but soon it goes viral (pun intended). Inflammation now gets turned on systemically. Calore becomes a fever which helps the white blood cells fight viruses. Dolore will be felt mostly in the muscles. Rubore will get you that reddish feverish look. And, you will be exhausted because your immune system is using up all the body’s energy. A perfectly designed adaptation and survival mechanism.
Our modern unnatural lifestyles and the constant exposure to toxicity have put humanity in a situation in which inflammation becomes a problem. It is mainly for 2 reasons:
The takeaway is that nature is infinitely intelligent. It makes no mistakes. We make mistakes and then blame them on nature. Instead of fighting inflammation, learn how to live in a way that reduces the constant micro and macro injuries. Avoid and protect yourself from as many toxic chemicals as you can. The most important way to do that is by eating real foods, organically grown. Clean air, clean water, clean cosmetics, and clean architecture are important as well.
Nature also has incredible tools at our disposal to calm systemic inflammation but still allow it to do its necessary work where needed. Turmeric, for example, is known as the greatest anti-inflammatory. But don’t think of it as you think of ibuprofen. The latter chemically blocks the entire inflammatory response, no matter where it is needed. Turmeric works with inflammation, redistributing its deployment and protecting cells in the crossfire.
Inflammation is your friend. Instead of blocking inflammation, think of how to stop forcing your body to turn it on.
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