Inflammation: Friend and Foe

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HonorHealth - Inflammation: Friend and Foe

When it comes to your health, inflammation can be both helpful and harmful. In its most positive light, inflammation is the body's way of initiating healing and protecting itself from some sort of irritant, infection, toxin or trauma. However, Karla Birkholz, MD, wellness medical director at HonorHealth Medical Group West Union Hills Drive , says inflammation also is a root cause of just about every chronic disease.

What conditions are linked to chronic inflammation?
Allergies, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, bowel disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, gum disease and stroke are among the many health conditions that are either initiated or made worse by chronic inflammation.

What are the visible and/or physical signs of inflammation?
When fighting an infection, inflammation presents as heat, redness, swelling, pain or loss of function in the affected area. In an otherwise healthy individual, it's a normal and healthy response.

When is inflammation worrisome?
When the body is out of balance, usually due to poor lifestyle and occasionally genetic factors, it can't properly regulate the inflammatory response. In such cases, inflammation may become excessive, essentially causing the body to turn on itself.

What causes chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation generally results from lifestyle factors such as poor diet, too little or even too much exercise, stress, not enough sleep, and exposure to toxins in your regular surroundings.

What foods are linked to inflammation?
Unhealthy foods that commonly trigger inflammation are often sugar and refined carbohydrates (flour), soda and other sugary drinks, deep-fried foods, low-fat dairy products, margarine and other foods high in trans fats.

What foods can help prevent and/or fight inflammation?
Colorful fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil help prevent and/or fight inflammation. In addition to a diet rich in these foods, try omega-3 fish oil supplements, green tea, tart cherries and the spice turmeric for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Is inflammation interfering with your life? Talk to your HonorHealth doctor about how to overcome inflammation or call 623-580-5800 to find a doctor who can help.