Inflammation and you

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Signs of acute inflammation include pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function. It is defined as a protective response by the body to tissue injury or damage. Long term or chronic inflammation is prolonged inflammation that causes the formation of new connective tissues.1 When tissues in the body are injured, for example by bacteria, trauma, toxins or heat, damaged cells release inflammatory chemicals such as histamine and prostaglandins. These chemicals cause fluids to leak into the tissues from blood vessels resulting in swelling. While this helps to keep foreign substances away from the tissues and prevents further damage. The inflammatory chemicals also attract white blood cells to the area, which destroy germs and help remove dead cells.2

Inflammation after an injury is a normal, protective response by the body. However, certain health conditions involve inflammation and can cause the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues. This is a problem because it may cause abnormal inflammation which causes pain, redness, swelling, stiffness and damage.3 Certain lifestyle and dietary factors can play a role in the inflammation associated with particular chronic conditions. Saturated and trans fatty acids, high glycaemic index foods, smoking, excessive alcohol intake and excessive exercise may all increase inflammation. In order to help reduce inflammation, consume a diet rich in omega‐3 fatty acids and low in cholesterol. Also include arginine‐rich foods such as fish and nuts, include plenty of fiber in your diet, exercise regularly and consume moderate amounts of alcohol.4 These steps may help you to manage the symptoms of inflammation.

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Published February 24, 2014
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