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Inflammation Basics

Chronic inflammation is a source of pain and tissue breakdown. When your body is locked in an inflammation cycle, tissue regeneration becomes compromised and resulting in more inflammation, swelling and pain.

Sometimes the inflammation is genetic problem and might take heroic efforts to resolve. Fortunately most inflammation is preventable or at least manageable if the process is well under way.

Common causes of inflammation are environmental and lifestyle related. We have more ways to encounter inflammation and more ways to run tests to see what the offending agent or agents might be.

When you read up on inflammation you will see many references to cytokines. Cytokines are chemical messengers that the immune system uses to signal among its various components. The understanding of these chemical messengers is better every year. At this point we aren't testing cytokines directly. We experimented with that and found the results less helpful than we had hoped. That might change but for now (Winter 2017) we look elsewhere for clues. It is helpful to check antibodies levels. Testing antibodies used to cost about $350 each. Now Cyrex Labs does about 24 antibodies for this price bringing the cost into range for many more people. Your body makes antibodies to any food you eat but these should be at low levels. Testing antibodies to different foods gives us important clues to how alarmed your immune system might be. A common inflammatory agent is gluten. Gluten sensitivity is not just an inconvenience but a disabler and killer. Much brain degeneration and autoimmune problems stem from gluten sensitivity. At least 1 in 15 people in the US, Europe and even India are gluten sensitive and that means they cannot tolerate even minute amounts without activating and perpetuating these immune inflammatory reactions.

Gluten is such a serious health issue that we have dedicated a separate section to it. To learn more, see Gluten Resources.

A gluten-free diet is a part of what some have called the anti-inflammation diet. This diet includes fruits, vegetables and wild seafood. It is best to avoid most large Atlantic fish due to mercury levels. Pacific salmon is safer. Most of you taking time to read this are probably already trying to eat a better diet and have learned that pizza, beer and colorful candy are not staples of a healthy diet.

Essential fatty acids are used in your body to build membranes. Cell membranes are the security components. They control who comes in and who leaves. Poor quality fats like trans fats can also get incorporated into the membranes. That is like hiring drug addicts to control the drugs moving in and out of a warehouse. A system breakdown is imminent. Your ancestors 20,000 years ago probably got a pretty decent level of essential fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids) in their diet. Grass is a good source of omega-3s and the rabbits and deer they ate incorporated those fatty acids into their bodies. Today we and our livestock eat wheat and corn that are poor sources of omega-3s so we quickly become deficient. See our section listing at Nordic Naturals.

To help decrease inflammation you will do well with anti-oxidants. Oxidative products from normal biochemical reactions tend to activate the inflammatory cytokine system. Key anti-oxidants are coenzyme Q-10, glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E and SOD. Some is good but more is not always better. Look for the following:

Several herbs have demonstrated anti-inflammation qualities. Most notable are: Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa). Many anti-inflammation formulas will include these and others.

Thank you for interest in lowering inflammation. We wish you great success.

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