Inflammation is the body’s programmed response to illness and injury. Usually, inflammation resolves on its own after the body eliminates the contagion or heals the injury. However, if too much inflammation exists, it can result in additional harm to the body. Here’s what you need to know about what causes inflammation in the body, how free radical damage occurs, and how you can fight free radicals in the body naturally.
First, a Primer: What Causes Inflammation?
When the body is subjected to injury or illness, the immune response is triggered. Immune cells, called macrophages, produce free radicals as a byproduct of fighting invasion. Free radicals in turn damage healthy cells, resulting in inflammation.
Wait, What Are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are atoms with a single electron, and are generated by the body when the immune system attacks a wound or infection. Since electrons prefer to be in pairs, once created, a free radical will go looking for a mate. It will scavenge the body to find other electrons to pair with, resulting in damage to healthy cells.
When free radicals are created en masse by a significant illness or injury, the resulting inflammation caused by the scavenging of healthy cells can be severe. Macrophages can be produced in excess by an overstimulated immune system. The cycle worsens itself when the immune response generates more free radicals that attack the body, creating additional damage that activates even more macrophages.
How to Reduce Inflammation Naturally
When you experience inflammation as a result of an injury or after becoming ill, there are things you can do to help reduce inflammation naturally and give your immune system a hand. Eating the right foods — and avoiding the wrong ones — is a great start, and there are many other ways to keep inflammation at bay. Even simple routines like keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy can help your body better fight inflammation and free radical damage.
What Foods Cause Inflammation? Which Foods Help?
Some foods cause inflammation, while others help. Foods that have been shown to cause inflammation include but are not limited to:
- Trans fats
- Saturated fats
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Refined carbs
- Omega 6 fatty acids
Harvard lists several foods that help reduce inflammation, including:
- Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens
- Fresh fruits of all kinds, particularly strawberries, blueberries, and oranges
- Olive oil
- Organic or wild-caught fatty fish in safe-to-fish areas, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
They also add red meat, margarine, and fried foods to the list of foods what cause inflammation.
What Else Helps with Inflammation?
You can also fight what causes inflammation in the body and free radical damage by adopting healthy habits and getting rid of habits that increase the inflammatory response.
- If you smoke cigarettes, consider quitting.
- If you are overweight or obese, discuss with your doctor healthy ways to lose weight. Excess abdominal fat can result in an increase of inflammation on its own, without any other comorbid factors.
- Participate in stress reduction. Stress is a human experience, but too much can lead to persistent inflammation that doesn’t go away.
- Focus on your oral health. Bacteria harbored in the tight spaces in between teeth can result in an infection deep inside your gums called gingivitis, which can then progress to periodontitis or gum disease. Since this infection is in your mouth, you’re constantly swallowing its byproducts. This can result in serious effects on the body, including chronic inflammation and disease. Keep your teeth and gums healthy at home with good brushing and flossing habits. If you’ve been ill, throw your toothbrush away and get a new one when you’re feeling better.
Reduce Inflammation by Maintaining Good Oral Health with Green Dentistry
Fighting inflammation and free radical damage is critical to your overall health, and even more important if you become ill or suffer an injury. You can take steps to help naturally reduce inflammation in the body, like eating the right foods and keeping your teeth and gums clean.
Green Dentistry in San Francisco offers holistic dental care and emergency dental services from a whole-body health perspective. Contact us for more information today.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.