Inflammation is the first indicator something in the body is going wrong. It can signal the presence of bacteria, toxins and viral infection and help repair and heal the cells of the body. We would surely die without a healthy, powerful inflammatory process – it’s a warning sign and a certain amount of inflammation is constantly present in our body and it is good for us. When inflammation occurs, the body’s white blood cells and chemicals are released to protect us from infection and foreign substances.
Sometimes inflammation becomes more of an enemy than a friend. This happens in some diseases when the body’s immune system triggers an inflammatory response when there is no need to do so. In other words, there are no foreign substances to fight so the inflammatory chemicals actually cause damage to the body’s own tissue. This is what causes autoimmune conditions.
The underlying cause of chronic disease is increased inflammation. What we “see” as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s to give an example, are not so much different diseases, but indeed different manifestations of long-term damages caused by a continued inflammatory attack on tissues, organs (for instance some, but not all types of arthritis, are the result of misdirected inflammation. Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation in joints).
There are two types of inflammation:
* The first is classical inflammation that hurts because of organ damage. This is what forces us go to a doctor.
* The second type is far more insidious – silent inflammation. Silent inflammation causes no pain therefore we do nothing to stop it. After years, if not decades of constant inflammatory attack, there is enough organ damage that may become a chronic disease.
Silent inflammation is an indicator of the inflammatory potential at the cellular level. Not so much a disease technically speaking, but high levels of silent inflammation are the first indication that we are no longer well. There is no drug that can reverse silent inflammation, but yes the anti-inflammatory diets and intelligent targeted supplementation when needed under careful guidance.
How are we to know if we have silent inflammation?
* The ideal way is taking a full blood test count, checking the adrenals, checking certain inflammatory markers as even with the full blown inflammation certain blood tests may come out as normal….Be aware many doctors choose to stay away from alternative inflammatory marker testing as they have little training in natural medicine. As functional medicine practitioners we tend to treat high inflammatory marker results with dietary changes targeting specific conditions and addressing the possible rootcause of inflammation and changes in daily activity levels, certain holistic lifestyle recommendations, etc.
* Some questions we can ask ourselves to give us an indication that we may have high levels of silent inflammation. No one question is sufficient, but if we can answer yes to more than three of these questions, we probably have elevated levels of silent inflammation.
* Am I overweight?
* Am I taking a cholesterol-lowering drug?
* Am I tking hypertensive drugs like beta-blockers or diuretics?
* Am I craving carbohydrates?
* Am I continually fatigued?
* Am I groggy upon waking?
* Are my fingernails brittle?
* How is my digestion and gut?
Nothing is absolute and these are just some of many questions to examine.
If you decide to pay a visit to conventional doctor with concerns about your inflammatory state ask him to run Inflammatory Marker Panel Test not just a Complete Blood Count. It additionally tests for the C-Reactive Protein that increases during systemic inflammation and a Sedimentation Rate, which detects and monitors inflammation in the body, Lp-PLA2 for Lipoprotein-associated Phospholipase A2 which during inflammation is released into the blood. These tests in many countries are available on the National Health Service.
Make sure The Inflammation Panel contains the following tests:
•Chemistry Profile (complete metabolic panel with lipids)
•Complete Blood Count (CBC)
•C-Reactive Protein (high sensitivity)
•Rheumatoid Factor (RF)
•Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) Screen
Usually 8 to 12 hours fast is required for this blood test. Inflammatory marker levels should be retested periodically to record the level changes.
Ask your doctor or your functional medicine practitioner to interpret the test, connecting the dots. Next step – to start making carefully guided specifically individually designed changes to address the rootcause of the inflammation through anti- inflammatory nutrition and targeted supplementation.
Hopefully you can see how inflammation can be good for us and a key to staying healthy. Taking control of inflammation and balancing body’s inflammatory response will help reduce the threat of it turning against you. Learning to read body’s signs of inflammation is crucial to long-term health. Learning there are more tests available than just the old fashioned blood count as well as a functional approach of qualified Integrative Medicine practitioners is important.