The Beginner’s Guide To Inflammation: Why It Happens & How To Deal With It

Cindy Wilson Thumbby Cindy Wilson
BS, Dietetics and Nutrition

Did you know your brain can become inflamed, just like a swollen knee, or similar to a sore throat?

Not only that but did you know that this “swollen brain” can lead to MULTIPLE brain disorders that range from depression and brain fog, to autism and anxiety?

the beginner’s guide to inflammation

Today, we’re going to be talking about how your body and mind get inflamed, what you can do to prevent it, and how to be free from it for good and live a life of clear thinking, improved mood, memory and more!

New Research & Why This Is Important

inflammatory changes in the brain parenchyma have also been associated with depression

Up until the past few years, aside from certain diseases (meningitis, encephalitis, etc.), the concept of inflammation in the brain was considered quite rare.

Recently however, new research suggests that seemingly “hidden” brain inflammation is linked with a plethora of “brain diseases” such as anxiety and depression:

Inflammatory changes in the brain parenchyma have also been associated with depression. Increased levels of TNFα in the hippocampus and striatum have been associated with anxious and depressed behavior in EAE studies, with the changes in the striatum occurring before the onset of clinical symptoms” [R]

As of the twenty-first century, it is estimated that one in three (and rising) Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. With the research showing that inflammation can be a direct cause of this, this is a problem that can affect everyone in one way or another.

Of course, inflammation doesn’t JUST happen in the brain. We know that inflammation in various parts of the body leads to other issues such as autoimmunity, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and so on.

This is why it is crucial that we get inflammation under control because when left unchecked, it can wreak havoc across one’s body and mind.

Now, it isn’t all doom and gloom, as the benefits to cooling inflammation allow us to do a complete one-eighty in terms of overall health and performance, be it mental or physical…

Here are just a few benefits that come with cooling off inflammation:

  • Improved Mental Clarity
  • Reduced Severity Of Certain Mental Disorders
  • Improved Immune System
  • Decreased Cortisol (Stress)
  • Mood Improvements
  • And more…

When our inflammation is left unchecked, it quite literally sets the body and mind “on fire” so to speak, which is why it is so key to get it handled.

Now that we know WHY it’s important, let’s take a look at what this inflammation even IS so that we can better understand, prevent, and treat it.

What Is Inflammation?

Most people know to some degree what inflammation is. Whether it’s pain, swelling, redness or heat. In all these cases, this is a natural symptom of an inflamed area, that most people have dealt with at some point in their lives.

Inflammation is a part of your body’s natural defense mechanism against certain things such as:

  • Toxins
  • Infection
  • Irritation
  • Foreign Invading Molecules
  • And so on…

So in many ways, inflammation is extremely useful to you and your body, but it’s the opposite of useful when (due to certain factors that we’ll get into) it’s left in a chronic state of action and is constantly spreading throughout the body.

At its worst, the thing that is designed to protect you from foreign and hostile molecules can start to attack the tissues and cells within your OWN body.

Needless to say, this isn’t great and can often cause MAJOR problems.

Inflammation in the heart causes heart disease, in the eyes causes blindness, in the WHOLE body causes cancer and in your brain causes depression, autism, anxiety, brain fog, and more.

We’ll get into exactly why inflammation happens, but understand that inflammation is not always easy to detect, and can even occur in individuals who live rather healthy lifestyles.

Depression & Anxiety

Let’s look at how inflammation could be a direct cause of depression and anxiety.

Let’s take exercise for example…

Exercising has been shown in studies to be incredibly effective at treating people who suffer from depression, especially when performed on a consistent basis.

While there are many reasons as to why exercise improves symptoms of depression, one of the most prominent is that exercise is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Does this mean that direct inflammation is 100% the cause of disorders such as anxiety and depression? Not necessarily, but lets take a look at another example really quick.

Fish oil which contains Omega 3 fatty acids has been shown in studies to be an extremely powerful anti-depressant:
“It was observed that the patients who experienced severe symptoms of depression contain a low concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and a considerably higher concentration of omega-6 fatty acids. Such relationships seem to have considerable importance to disorders such as inflammation and atherosclerosis” [R]

omega 3s are a potent anti inflammatory substance

Omega 3’s are a potent anti-inflammatory substance and is one of the main reasons that supplementing with fish oil, can be extremely beneficial for ones mental and overall health.

Stress & Cortisol

Chronic stress is also at an all-time high in the twenty-first century with again, nearly a third of all Americans being in a state of extreme stress on a daily basis.

This stress causes the body to release something called cytokines, which again when left unchecked, causes inflammation in various parts of the body.

This then caused both people and doctors to find ways of reducing cortisol (stress) within the body, and indirectly cooling off inflammation caused by these cytokines.

What was found was that forms of relaxation such as meditation, nature therapy, and so on, were extremely beneficial in not only reducing cortisol levels but also aided massively in reducing overall inflammation within the body and mind.

Ultimately however, many problems of the body and mind, ultimately come down to inflammation in one form or another. This is why treating and preventing inflammation is so key.

Causes Of Inflammation

We’ve talked a lot about how inflammation affects the body, and what it can do to a person, and now it’s time to get into how it happens, how to PREVENT it from happening, and ultimately how to treat it.

First off however, understand that more often than not, you will not be able to remove every source of inflammation in your life and that’s okay.

It’s best to focus on one source at a time, and keep making improvements over time.

With that said, here are the most common sources of inflammation:

  • The Standard American Diet (Refined flour, sugar, etc.)
  • Food Allergies (Oftentimes hidden, and undetected at the surface level)
  • Imbalances in Digestive Function
  • Toxins
  • Stress & Cortisol
  • Not Enough Exercise
  • Not Enough Sleep
  • Nutritional Deficiencies

One of the most potent sources of inflammation however (especially in America) is one’s diet, sugar specifically.

Sugar is actually a HUGE stress on the body and mind, and surges the body with cortisol and adrenaline, both of which are extremely inflammatory.

The SAD diet is actually just that… SAD.

The biggest change you could make to remove inflammation permanently is by changing certain elements of your diet, and it doesn’t even have to be painful changes.

If you still crave sugar, opt for raw honey instead for example. Instead of damaging your body, you can HEAL it, which is what I’d like to talk about next.

Cooling Off Inflammation

Cooling off inflammation has life-changing effects, especially for certain people.

If you have been living with chronic inflammation your entire life, then you may think it’s normal to have brain fog, mood swings, memory issues, and so on, but that’s simply not the case.

Before we get into the specifics of how to cool off inflammation, I want to make one thing abundantly clear…

If you could only focus on ONE thing, make it your diet.

Most of our problems come from our diet, but simply making a few changes can turn what is most people’s number one source of inflammation, into something that can actually cool off and heal the person.

Here are several ways in which to cool off inflammation:

  • Consume Omega 3’s
  • Exercise
  • Reduce Stress (Meditating, Nature Therapy, or Simply Relaxing Works Best)
  • Remove Inflammatory Foods From Your Diet
  • Consume Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods (Turmeric, Leafy Greens, Berries, etc.)

Again however, the number one thing you can do to start living a life free of inflammation is to remove the things that are causing said inflammation in the first place.

For most people, it boils down to three things: Drugs (such as smoking), Diet (sugars, hidden food allergies, etc.), and cortisol.

Inflammation is much like putting out a fire, and step one for both is eliminating the source!

Once you eliminate the fire, THEN you can start thinking about adding certain biohacking supplements to further your results.

Anti-Inflammatory Juice

Lastly, I would like to share with you a recipe that promotes the cooling of inflammation and something that I’ve been sipping on as I write this post!

Keep in mind, make sure you don’t have allergies to any of the following as that would defeat the purpose of consuming the drink in the first place.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 Inch Peeled Ginger
  • 2 Oranges (Juiced)
  • 1 Lemon (Juiced)
  • 1 Tsp Turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • Pinch of Black Pepper (For absorption)

Simply blend the ingredients and use a strainer to separate the juice, or you could simply use a juicer as well.

The main powerhouse of this juice is turmeric (curcumin) which has been shown in several studies to be an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory compound, especially when taken with black pepper.
“In conclusion, curcumin has good anti-inflammatory properties, and curcumin regulates NF-κB, MAPK, AP-1, JAK/STAT and other signaling pathways, and inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators. Curcumin in the treatment of IBD, arthritis, psoriasis, depression and atherosclerosis and other diseases, can reduce inflammatory response, effectively improve symptoms, play a role in the treatment of diseases.” [R]

curcumin has good anti inflammatory properties

This has been a staple for my mornings for a long time, and I always think much more clearly after consuming this juice, so I highly recommend giving it a try on your journey to cool off inflammation.

Conclusion

In the end, Inflammation is something that affects nearly everyone in one way or another, and cooling it off can be seriously life-changing for certain individuals and downright beneficial at the very least for the rest.

I hope you enjoyed this article and can use the information and tips within, to help the overall quality of you and your loved ones’ health.

For more great articles on diet, nutrition, lifestyle, and more make sure to check out the rest of Nutri Inspector and until next time!

About Author

Cindy Wilson Thumb
BS, Nutrition & Food Science | Connect with on LinkedIn
Cindy Wilson

Hello, I am Cindy, and this a website where I inspect everything related to nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I have a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition (Kansas State University) and have completed a dozen specialty courses related to nutrition, biochemistry, and food science. I am open to learning more, but foremost I would like to share all my knowledge with you.

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