Today lets look more at what causes inflammation in our bodies. Now remember we are not talking about the acute inflammation you get after an injury, the cause of that is obvious - you tripped, fell, jammed etc. etc. We are talking about the cellular level inflammation that you can't see with your eyes or on blood tests (until it's too late). Chronic cellular inflammatory response can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, chemical stress, hormonal stress, mental/emotional stress, infections, heavy metals, overexertion, lack of sleep or improper breathing. Lets look a little deeper at what these factors actually are.
The modern diet is sadly lacking in many important nutrients, and is far overloaded in synthetic food like substances, from 'treats' at birthday parties to 'health food' in plastic packaging. Any processed food item that has been removed from its natural state has had what nutrients it may have contained destroyed in the process. Even what you may consider a natural food such as milk and cheese is often full of additives and is far removed from what our ancestors would have eaten. Now there are a lot of theories and cult like diet groups around these days. I only have two rules when it comes to food: 1) it must be a natural food (meat, fruit and veg) that I can make myself (if it is processed then it is made of ingredients I could grow/buy myself and make in my kitchen), 2) Listen to your body and what makes you feel good (as long as that fits in with rule 1).
Nutritional deficiencies can also occur within a wonderful wholefood, organic top notch diet, as a result of stress from any of the following factors, as well as things like long term pregnancy/breastfeeding cycles.
Chemical/ Hormonal Stressors
Yup everything is a chemical, not all chemicals are good for us though :P Chemical and hormonal stressors come from many different areas of our lives:
- environmental factors such as plastics, mould, pesticides, heavy metals
- diet factors such as plant toxins, glyphosphate and other pesticide residues on our food, additives such as colours, flavours and preservatives, toxins stored in animal products due to bad farming practices
- pharmaceutical factors such prescribed medication causing nutritional deficiencies, along with the abundance of prescription medicine drugs and hormones that end up in our water supplies (and in our seafood) from people improperly disposing of their medication and also weeing it out!
The stress of modern day living is well known these days. However we need to look at our mental and emotional health not only in the sphere of 'stress' but also in our mental and emotional connection to others and ourselves. Bullying and negative relationships occurring both in the work place and at home have a negative impact on our physical health as much as our mental health. Along with external factors, how we speak to ourselves and love (or not love) ourselves is just as important.
Bacteria, viruses, yeasts - all organisms live on and in our bodies. Usually our immune system should be strong enough to keep it all in balance. However you throw in a bunch of inflammatory stressors and these organisms will take advantage and run rampant. These infections cause further stress and nutritional deficiencies, leading of course to further imbalance and the cycle continues. Ever felt like you were getting over one illness just to get something else?
Heavy metals get a special mention (they belong in the environmental stressor section really) as they are a prevalent problem in our modern world. A large vaccine schedule, old lead paint peeling in houses, copper pipes carrying our water, fire retardents polluting waterways, these are just some examples of how the elements can build up and become toxic.
This can be in the form of pushing ourselves in our careers and home lives to live the 'perfect' life but also in the form of pushing our bodies to be healthy. Extreme diets, crazy fitness routines, both are forms of overexertion that put a burden on our bodies.
Lack of Sleep
This is a huge problem in our world of screens, bright lights, stimulating games and shows. Stress from work and relationships often plays on our minds and causes sleep issues too. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of good health, with poor sleep being an indicator of disease.
Mouth breathing is a major indicator that there is inflammatory processes occurring in the body. It can start with blocked noses and chronic ear/nose/throat infections and then become bad habit. Jaw alignment and tongue/lip ties also play a role in how we breathe.
Often we have a multitude of these causative factors present in our lives, and not all of them are in our control! So next week lets have a look at some specific examples of each of these factors and how we can eliminate or decrease their impact on our health.