The Drama Of Inflammation And Its Annoying Tendencies
We don’t want too much drama in our lives, do we? But yet sometimes we do allow some of that drama to spillover... unwittingly.
It would suffice to say that the world “inflammation” is causing quite a stir these days. When we’re injured, for instance, the site of injury is experiencing acute inflammation, and that contributes to unpleasant sensations of pain and swelling that we can feel until the injury has been healed.
Some people would then look at tinkering with their diets. An anti-inflammatory diet, for instance. Trying to sleep better. Doing some meditation. Reducing stress. Whatever it is that can help to “reduce inflammation” in their lives.
But what’s so important about the inflammatory response? It is creating quite a fair bit of drama in most people’s lives today, and the problem is that most methods to “reduce inflammation” don’t even provide a holistic understanding of the drama behind inflammation in the first place.
Going back to basics…
If we do go back to basics, we would find that the inflammation response is a signalling response that the immune system generates. When we’re injured, a pro-inflammatory signal in the form of various biochemicals (also known as cytokines) is raised to signal the immune cells to get to the site of injury to commence repairs.
These cytokines are biochemicals — they are proteins that are synthesised by a cell according to its DNA code. When the damage has been completely repaired, other anti-inflammatory cytokines are synthesised and released to disperse the crowd of immune cells.
In that way, we have that balance of cytokines to ensure that there is no drama at all. When there is no drama, life goes on smoothly. Everything hums along in place. Life is good…
But what happens if the balance of cytokines isn’t good?
We need both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines IN THE RIGHT AMOUNTS
We don’t function on the basis of a singular cytokine signalling everything in the body. We have various cytokines that are responsible for specific signalling processes. Some cytokines may be pro-inflammatory in one instance and anti-inflammatory in another.
The cells that are responsible for expressing these specific cytokines, therefore, ought to be on their best behaviour to avoid any drama.
If the cells are expressing too much or too little of these cytokines, then various different drama scenarios can pop up.
For example, excessive amounts of interleukin-4 (IL-4) cytokine expression will contribute to a dramatic, exaggerated immune response to a stimulus that a healthy human body will generally regard as safe. We call that dramatic response an “allergy”.
For example, excessive amounts of interleukin-17 and interleukin-23 (IL-17 and IL-23) can contribute to the development of an autoimmune disorder.
When the body has dramatic over-the-top responses, we do know that there is something inherently wrong with how the immune system is functioning.
Of course, we can do things to our own body to disrupt the balance as well — for example,
If we consume too much junk refined carbohydrates.
Or if we’re drinking too much alcohol.
Or even if we’re just not getting enough sleep.
Unfortunately, though, most of us do bumble around life with some form of pain here, some form of allergies there, or even some form of immune disorders somewhere.
These things aren’t good — they do contribute to a reduction in our body’s ability to do things. Because if the cytokine activities are operating at an imbalance — what would happen, you reckon, to the body’s ability to recover from an injury?
It would be slower than a healthy person’s.
But there are so many ways for the immune system to generate drama with imbalanced cytokine production.
Because all it takes is a mix of different cytokines to be have skewed production rates, and a whole different cascade of events can be activated. Examples of what can happen with skewed cytokine production rates can be found here, and it sure ain’t pretty.
The challenge is…
Maintain a proper balance of the cytokines in one’s body, and the risk of developing various drama issues (or health disorders) can be greatly reduced.
However, one does have to understand that the drama comes from a dysregulated inflammation response from the immune system.
When the immune system cannot properly regulate the inflammation response, it would also allow other pathways of drama (via chronic inflammatory disorders) to happen.
And that’s why someone with Type 2 diabetes doesn’t just stop there. They could easily add on heart disease and Alzheimer’s while they’re at it.
Especially when the root cause of all that is a dysregulated inflammation response.
But hey, to be fair… the doctors don’t really tell their patients that it’s an inflammation problem or an immune system problem, right?
But yet, we do see that heart disease or diabetes patients are at higher risk of death from a COVID-19 infection.
Because the inflammation response in these people have already been dysregulated! How are they going to respond or recover from an infection as efficiently as a healthy person?
The thing is, however, to not suppress the immune system’s inflammation response down to zero. Suppressing a response to become unresponsive would kill one’s ability to defend themselves from a foreign invader, hence people on immunosuppressant drugs for any kind of medical treatment do also have to take utmost precautions when protecting themselves from any potential exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
It’s not about “reducing” inflammation. It’s about reconditioning the cells in our body to be generating a healthy inflammation response that can be used for healing and recovery purposes!
Maintaining a healthy immune response (or whatever a healthy immune system should have been doing in the first place) is the best option for eliminating a lot of health dramas in our lives.
Do feel free to check out Nutrients That Support A Healthy Immune System to see how we can properly support the immune response and regulate the inflammation signal better.
This article is part of the Inflammation - Making Sense Of Our Immune System ebook that I have made available on Amazon.com in Kindle format.