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I want to stress again just how bad (and good) inflammation can be…But first, we need to answer the question:
What is Inflammation?
Basically, inflammation is caused by white blood cells, part of your immune system. Your white blood cells are in charge of dissolving bad substances like bacteria. Your tissue becomes inflamed as part of this process.
So, all of this is “good” in the sense that your body is fighting off infection. Yay!
However, what’s supposed to happen AFTER the bad bacteria is gone is, your body is supposed to release a different kind of white blood cells (“suppressor T cells”) to calm down the inflammation, so that your body can start repairing the tissue that has been DAMAGED by inflammation.
However, often the cells that are supposed to call off your immune response and your inflammation don’t work completely. Everybody actually has some level of chronic inflammation. But the more you have, the more you are damaging your tissue! Research shows that inflammation, together with bad cholesterol, is what leads to your arteries getting clogged.
If your inflammation levels are in the top 1/3 of the population, you are twice as likely to get a heart attack. And a different study showed that inflammatory molecules cause your liver to make more glucose, which could lead to diabetes.
What Are the Best Herbs for Inflammation?
Now that you know the true, sometimes deadly harm of chronic inflammation, how do you prevent it?
Well, you can take NSAIDs to fight inflammation…but long-term, this is a bad idea. It can damage your liver/kidneys, and cause internal bleeding. Agh! Sounds like natural solutions are better. The first order of business is a proper diet (no trans fats or refined carbs / sugars) and EXERCISE! Both of these are linked to having less of the molecules that cause chronic inflammation.
But let me tell you about the 3 best herbs for inflammation as well:
Of all the best herbs for inflammation, turmeric has the most studies done and the strongest case that it truly works. This is because it blocks those molecules I mentioned earlier, the ones that cause inflammation. An active ingredient in turmeric called curcumin is what blocks these signaling molecules. You should know, too, that curcumin is taken in by the body better if you take your turmeric WITH black pepper. There is something called piperine in black pepper that makes the curcumin in the turmeric absorb better.
I know…that’s a lot to swallow…literally. But to “break it down,” all I’m saying it, sprinkle turmeric AND black pepper on your food in the same meal. Easy enough!
Ginger has been shown to block the inflammatory molecules that turmeric does, too! Additionally, ginger also blocks inflammatory ENZYMES, substances that make reactions in your body happen FASTER. So by slowing down the inflammation response, your body gets a chance to calm down and recognize that there is no threat, before tissue gets damaged. Try ginger tea, add it to a smoothie, or put it on your fish. Yum!
Love red wine? You’re not alone. 😉 It turns out that red wine can make you live longer! Maybe you already knew about the whole, “glass of red wine a day is good for your heart” thing, but didn’t know exactly why. Well, it’s because of the inflammation-fighting resveratrol! It’s an antioxidant found in grapes that blocks inflammation. There was a study done showing that resveratrol is effective against the bacteria NTHi. (That’s the one that infects people’s lungs and causes COPD. Ick!)