Inflammation has always been a medical mystery, but now it has become an enemy of long-term health. On the one hand, when your skin turns red, swollen, and painful after you burn yourself, which triggers acute inflammation, the response is normal and beneficial. Extra red blood cells, immune cells, and antioxidants are rushing to the wounded site to heal it. But carried too far, inflammation can be fatal, as when someone is too burned to recover.
Only in the past few decades has it dawned that low-level chronic inflammation, which usually goes completely unnoticed, plays a part in many lifestyle disorders such as hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Chemicals known as inflammation markers can enter the bloodstream in various ways: From the intestinal tract (so-called leaky gut), as a reaction to infection, or through the action of the immune system in other internal ways. The slow drip, drip of inflammatory markers can take years to create major impairment, which means that each person must tailor his lifestyle to counter them.
Diet alone isn’t enough to keep chronic low-level inflammation at bay, but it’s a good start. By adopting an anti-inflammation diet, you aim at two positive results: keeping the micro-organisms in your intestines healthy and flourishing, thereby preventing the seepage of toxic chemicals into the bloodstream. There is also the indirect benefit that a healthy digestive system sends signals of well-being along the vagus nerve to the heart and brain.
The millions of bacteria that inhabit the intestinal tract are an essential part of our total DNA, contributing thousands of separate genomes. Together this vast colony is known as the microbiome. Here are some essential points to know: