Most people think that inflammation involves bruising and swelling, but truthfully untreated inflammation can result in diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Inflammation happens in the body, but when it hangs around for too long, it may result in infection. That’s why researchers are always searching for ways to treat it. Many people are surprised to learn that the keto diet, discussed in the Body Reboot book, is an effective way to treat inflammation. Unfortunately, inflammation can wreak havoc on a body (see 6 shocking ways in this article), but on number 7 we reveal how the keto diet, a low carb, high fat diet, can help with that.
Harvard Health educates us about inflammation and the difference between acute and chronic inflammation. You’ll learn more about acute inflammation in this article because we go into further detail about how it can affect the body on number 4.
There’s evidence that inflammation, promoted in part by such factors as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle, contributes to a variety of diseases.
There are two forms of inflammation: acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation comes on rapidly, usually within minutes, but is generally short-lived. Many of the mechanisms that spring into action to destroy invading microbes switch gears to cart away dead cells and repair damaged ones. This cycle returns the affected area to a state of balance, and inflammation dissipates within a few hours or days.
Chronic inflammation often begins with the same cellular response, but morphs into a lingering state that persists for months or years when the immune system response fails to eliminate the problem. Alternatively, the inflammation may stay active even after the initial threat has been eliminated. In other cases, low-level inflammation becomes activated even when there is no apparent injury or disease. Unchecked, the immune system prompts white blood cells to attack nearby healthy tissues and organs, setting up a chronic inflammatory process that plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s.
1. It can harm the gut
It’s essential to keep the gut healthy, but Health says that’s hard to do with inflammation. Chronic inflammation takes place when healthy bacteria gets ignored. The result may be someone developing Crohn’s disease and other diseases.
Many of the body's immune cells cluster around the intestines, says Denning. Most of the time, those immune cells ignore the trillions of healthy bacteria that live in the gut. “But for some people, that tolerance seems to be broken,” says Denning, “and their immune cells begin to react to the bacteria, creating chronic inflammation.”
The immune cells can attack the digestive tract itself, an autoimmune condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, ulcers, and may even require surgical removal of the intestines. Doctors aren't exactly sure why some people get IBD, but genetics, environment, antibiotics, diet, and stress management all seem to play a role.
2. Inflammation may include flu-like symptoms
If you’re wondering what symptoms you may experience, WebMD outlines the flu-like symptoms that your body goes through when suffering from chronic inflammation.
Inflammation may also be associated with general flu-like symptoms including:
Fatigue/loss of energy
Loss of appetite
3. It can harm the joints
Unfortunately, Health states that inflammation can also damage the joints, making it difficult for daily activities. It can also lead to skin conditions, and all of these effects are painful and difficult to manage if you don't control inflammation.
When inflammation occurs in the joints, it's can cause serious damage. One joint-damaging condition is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—another example of an autoimmune disorder that appears to have a genetic component, but is also linked to smoking, a lack of vitamin D, and other risk factors. A 2013 Yale University study, for example, found that a salty diet may contribute to the development of RA.
People with RA experience pain and stiffness in their inflamed joints. But because the immune reaction isn't limited to the joints, says Denning, they're also at higher risk for problems with their eyes and other body parts.
Psoriatic arthritis also involves inflammation in the joints, and its symptoms are similar to those of RA. But in addition to painful, stiff joints, people with PsA may also experience changes in the nails, like pitting. Most people with psoriatic arthritis first develop psoriasis, another autoimmune condition, on their skin. Around 30% of people with psoriasis are thought to develop psoriatic arthritis, and you may be more likely to do so if your skin psoriasis affects your nails.
4. Results in acute inflammation
As we mentioned in the introduction, inflammation can become critical, which essentially means that multiple health issues may pop up, as Medical News Today explains below.
An acute inflammation is one that starts rapidly and becomes severe in a short space of time. Signs and symptoms are normally only present for a few days but may persist for a few weeks in some cases.
Examples of diseases, conditions, and situations that can result in acute inflammation include:
infected ingrown toenail
a sore throat from a cold or flu
a scratch or cut on the skin
a physical trauma
5. It can infiltrate the body
Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials goes on to tell us how else inflammation can affect the body, and it isn’t pretty.
When your cells are in distress, they release chemicals to alert the immune system. The immune system sends its first responders — inflammatory cells — to trap the offending substance or heal the tissue. As this complex chain of events unfolds, blood vessels leak fluid into the site of the injury, causing the telltale swelling, redness and pain. These symptoms might be uncomfortable, but they are essential for the healing process.
Here’s the problem with inflammation: Over time, you can end up with too much of a good thing. With chronic inflammation, your body is on high alert all the time.
This prolonged state of emergency can cause lasting damage to your heart, brain and other organs. For example, when inflammatory cells hang around too long in blood vessels, they promote the buildup of dangerous plaque. The body sees this plaque as foreign and sends more of its first responders. As the plaque continues to build, the arteries can thicken, making a heart attack or stroke much more likely.
Similarly, inflammation in the brain may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. For many years the brain was thought to be off-limits to inflammation because of the blood-brain barrier — a sort of built-in security system — but scientists have proved that immune cells can and do infiltrate the brain during times of distress. Their role in disease progression is not yet clear, however.
6. It can cause sleep disturbances
Another issue that may take place is not being able to sleep. That’s because Health says that if you’re not getting enough rest that inflammation may get triggered. So make sure you’re getting enough rest!
In a 2009 study from Case Western Reserve University, people who reported sleeping more or less than average had higher levels of inflammation-related proteins in their blood than those who said they slept about 7.6 hours a night. This research only established a correlation between the two (and not a cause-and-effect), so the study authors say they can't be sure whether inflammation triggers long and short sleep duration or whether sleep duration triggers inflammation. It's also possible that a different underlying issue, like chronic stress or disease, causes both. Shift work has also been found to increase inflammation in the body.
7. Fight inflammation with the keto diet
We know it’s pretty depressing reading about all of the ugly things inflammation can do, which is why you can sigh with relief. It turns out there is something you can do about inflammation, and it’s changing your diet and living a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Will Cole explains how the keto diet, the high fat, low carb diet that we mentioned earlier can help you get back on track and kick inflammation to the curb.
Remember to check out the Body Reboot book, so you can learn how to take control of your health and lose some weight along the way! We want to help you get healthy, which is why if you help us pay for shipping you’ll get the book FREE!
Lifestyle intervention is, in my experience, the most powerful way to take control of health. Whether those changes improve your quality of life by 25 percent or 100 percent, any increase is a move in the right direction and away from the threat of autoimmune disease. If you don’t change what you are doing, you won’t change where you are going, and one of the most profoundly helpful lifestyle changes I have discovered for calming inflammation and balancing the immune system is the ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet specifically impacts mechanisms responsible for chronic inflammation. When you start burning fat instead of sugar, you switch into ketosis, or a ketogenic state. The ketones your body produces and uses for fuel are powerful, inflammation-fighting superheroes. ß-hydroxybutyrate (also known as BHB) is a strong anti-inflammatory, inhibiting inflammatory pathways like NFkB, COX-2, and the NLRP3 inflammasome and activating the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory AMPK and Nrf2 pathways. Additionally, BHB activates the very important AMPK pathway, which is involved in regulating energy balance and helps reduce inflammation by inhibiting the inflammatory Nf-kB pathways in the body. BHB also exerts a similar effect on pain and inflammation as the NSAID drug ibuprofen, by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme (without the side effects).
The Nrf2 pathway is a significant center for regulating inflammation, and while the ketones produced in nutritional ketosis up-regulate the Nrf2 pathway and the powerful anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, they also down-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines. The Nrf2 pathway also regulates antioxidant-gene induction and works to turn on genes responsible for antioxidant and detox pathways in addition to cell function and inflammation. When the Nrf2 pathway is functioning at optimal levels, inflammation is calmed. When levels are low, inflammation is raised. Ketosis has also been shown to stimulate increased autophagy, or cellular clean-up and repair.
The simple version: The ketogenic diet triggers a complex biochemical process that directly fights inflammation, reducing and calming the chronic inflammation related to just about every health problem we see today.
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