Home' Rotary Down Under : Dec 2013-Jan 2014 Contents LIFE & LEISURE
46 Issue 557. Dec-Jan 2013-14
The silent problem eroding your health
Inflammation in its many forms can have a debilitating effect on your
health and wellbeing, but did you know that what you eat can either
help or hinder your battle?
f you spend some time just observing
people passing by, you’ve probably noticed
some unwell-looking folk. Some of them
are limping from long-term joint problems.
Some have really uncomfortable-looking
rashy skin. Although it’s not obvious, some
of them have stomach and bowel problems.
All of us have health issues and in many cases there’s an
underlying biochemical process causing the problem:
inflammation. Uncontrolled long-term inflammation will
actively erode your health in several ways, but what you
choose to put in your mouth can either help or hinder.
The uncomfortable process of inflammation is actually
normal when it’s addressing a short-term (acute) problem.
It works like this: Let’s say you graze your skin. In the
areas where your skin was damaged, your blood vessels
almost immediately dilate and become porous to allow a
rush of blood to the affected tissues. Your skin becomes
heated, red and swollen as a result. At the same time
your immune system springs into action, racing immune
cells to the area to destroy any invading bacteria. All this
activity irritates your nerve endings, causing pain.
Ideally, this very messy situation gets cleaned up
completely, quickly. Your immune cells deal with any
invading microbes, new cells are built to replace the
damaged ones and the blood vessels in the area return
to normal. But if the healing isn’t complete, long-term
(chronic) problems can develop and begin to erode your
health. The same process can happen not just on your
skin, but within any of the tissues in your body, including
your joints and digestive tract.
How chronic inflammation can affect you
Mobility problems from inflamed joints are experienced
by many people as they age. There are two major
categories: osteoarthritic, where the cartilage covering
the end of each bone has worn away and inflammation
takes hold from the irritation of bone rubbing on bone,
and rheumatoid, where your immune system incorrectly
decides that your own joint cells are the enemy and
attack, actively working to dissolve the joint cartilage.
The longer you’ve had this joint inflammation, the
more entrenched it becomes and the less mobile
you become. You can begin to lose muscle and
put on weight from lack of movement, and
because exercise is such a great mood booster you
might start to feel low as well. You can see how
uncontrolled inflammation in your joints can cause
your health to gradually spiral downwards.
Chronic inflammation can also establish itself
within skin problems like rashes. For example, if
you have a rash that doesn’t resolve, then the cells
within your skin will start to reorganise as though the
inflammation was going to be a permanent state. New
blood capillaries will be built to handle the extra blood
flow to the area. Your immune cells populate the area in
larger-than-normal numbers; new cells built in the area
are thicker than usual, causing skin to feel roughened
and thick. If that rash is irritating, your sleep might be
disrupted, which erodes wellbeing, as any sleep-deprived
person will attest.
Digestive inflammation, whether in your stomach or
bowels, might cause you to progressively restrict your diet
in a way that leaves you vulnerable to malnutrition. For
example, if your stomach feels sore whenever you eat a
protein-rich meal, you might start to deliberately exclude
protein-rich foods from your diet. Or, if you experience
digestive discomfort whatever you eat, you might get to
the point where you don’t eat much at all.
You don’t have to ‘just live with it’
The problem with long-term health issues like
inflammation is that people eventually give up trying to
fix it and decide to “just live with it”. Their quality of life
often deteriorates as a result.
But new nutritional perspectives offer new hope for
managing inflammatory disorders like joint problems,
skin rashes and irritated digestive systems.
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