The word inflammation has been coming up a lot, especially in regards to the omega chain fatty acids. What causes it, and why should it make a difference in your selection of survival foods?
Immune Systems Gone Wild!
Your body relies on a number of very specialized cells in order to defend itself against invaders like bacteria, heal when you cut yourself or break a bone, and break down toxins when they reach your bloodstream. There is a delicate balance of white blood cells, platelets, t-cells and a bunch of other fun cells that I am neither qualified enough to talk about nor willing to bore you with.
The important thing to understand is that they work as a system. Our bodies are beautiful machines but they are not perfect. While it would be nice to get only part of the immune system involved when say, a splinter got into your skin, it isn’t the case. When anything under the blanket of immunity comes into question, it’s all hands on deck.
The Dangers of Chronic Inflammation
Many of the cells in your immune system are born killers. They are built to break down, swallow and otherwise dismember cellular material. The constant presence of these in your bloodstream is not unlike a bunch of sailors drunk on shore leave. Sure they’re here to help, but a few windows might end up broken by the end of the night.
This is ok in the short run and as a matter of fact is necessary in the event of an actual infection or defense situation. However, when it becomes a norm it can be dangerous. Getting there might be easier than you think.
Self Sustaining Cycles
The road to chronic inflammation can be a slippery slope. Many of the conditions caused by inflammation cause more inflammation in turn. For example, we know cancer can be caused by inflammation. The presence of faulty cells in a tumor cause a number of damaged proteins. Responding to the presence of these in the bloodstream, inflammation will rise.
Body fat is another road to inflammation. The presence of even 20 extra pounds can cause elevated inflammation in people, especially during weight gain. These cells can emit inflammatory markers like interleukin-6 and c-reactive protein which, you guessed it, raise inflammation. That’s unfortunate because inflammation also makes you fat.
The final pathway is our old friend insulin resistance. In addition to creating fat in the body, the presence of inflammation leads to insulin resistance. Studies with mice have shown that injecting mice with inflammatory markers creates resistance to insulin, even in healthy mice. C reactive protein and IL-6, produced by fat cells as mentioned above, actually have also been shown to create insulin resistance.
What to do?
If this sounds like a giant mishmash of awful factors designed to create inflammation, that’s because it is one. The leading preventable causes of death in the modern world are seen, not coincidentally, in higher rates in those countries with a highly inflammatory diet.
How can you break the cycle? Stay tuned to our next post in the series to find out.