The Inflammation Cascade

The Five Cardinal Signs of Inflammation:

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1. Heat (calor) kills micbrobes, preventing infection of the injured tissue or spread of infection into the systemic circulation.

2. Redness (rubor) is due to an immediate and temporary constriction of vessels in the area of injury, followed by a dilation of these vessels causing a flux of blood and congestion to the site of injury.

3. Swelling (tumor) is the accumulation of fluid into the injured area caused by an increased dilation of vessels, which dilutes and carries away potentially infectious agents.

4. Pain (dolor) is a self-protective response to tissue injury, forcing us to address and attend to our injury.

5. Loss of function (functio laesa) is a consequence of the swelling and pain.

The first four of these signs were described in the first century AD (0 – 99) by the Roman physician Celsus; with the fifth added in the second century AD (100 – 199) by the Greek physician Galen.

Upon injury to tissues (trauma or infection) cells located all over our body are activated to release the chemical mediators responsible for these signs of inflammation, which in an acute scenario serve to protect us by providing a physical barrier to the spread of infection and enabling the immune system to come on in and start the process of tissue  healing.

Consider that swollen lump where you broke your skin on a rusty nail as a little barricade to any incoming infectious agents and inside it all sorts of immune cells are engulfing, killing and spitting out bits of dead nasty bugs whilst new cells are dividing and fibrous tissue is forming to make way for a fresh patch of skin. That’s why it hurts to touch and is red and weepy: “Keep Out! Construction Site.”

However, ongoing inflammation as a response to cellular dysfunction caused by oxidative stress, calorie over consumption and elevated blood sugar levels is known to underlie chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, respiratory disease; to name a few. Stress induced inflammation can remain silent and undetected for many years, killing off cells along the way, hastening the aging process: “inflammagaing.”

Five Things You Can Do To Reduce Inflammation:

1. Eat and supplement with omega-3 fatty acids, and in tandem – reduce dietary intake of omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3s and Omega-6s take the same bus to school: they use the same enzymes to enter cells!; but the bus is kinda selective as to whether or not Omega-3s or Omega-6s get on board: the greater percentage of fatty acids in our blood will be the fatty acids that enter our cells.

The ratio of Omega-3s:Omega-6s in our diet today is shockingly out of order, throwing out the Omega-3s to a pitiful low and enabling Omega-6s to predominate in cellular membranes.

In short: Omega-3s are largely anti-inflammatory and Omega-6s are largely pro-inflammatory (although they do carry out important physiological roles.) And if our cells are filled up with pro-inflammatory fatty acids then they are going to release pro-inflammatory chemicals when triggered by stress.

EAT: cold water oily fish, walnuts, linseeds, chia seeds, very dark green leafy veg.

SUPPLEMENT: with fish oil, cod liver oil, linseed oil or chia oil.

AVOID OR REDUCE: refined vegetable oils and all foods cooked with them (fast, fried, ready baked, blended into spreads [margarine, blergh]), pretty much any processed snack foods even the “healthy” nut and seed bars because they’re often mixed with vegetable oils and stuck together with sugar of some sort.

2. Make special room for garlic, ginger, turmeric, pineapple and paw-paw in your diet.

These foods all possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Cook with garlic in your soups, stews, stir fries and baked veg trays. Include ginger in your stir fries, drink it fresh sliced in tea, add it to baking. Use turmeric in your soups, stews and stir fries, or get on board the “golden milk” trend. When pineapple and paw-paw are in season, eat them regularly, fresh cut and in smoothies or juices.

3. Eat and drink antioxidants.

Basically this is about combating oxidation which kills cells and promotes inflammation. I could say “eat a rainbow” and this is true, but there are certain foods that are rich in antioxidants such as:

Carotenoids found in carrots, pumpkin, tomato (nightshade), watermelon, spinach, bok choy, capsicum (nightshade) and rocket.

Vitamin C found in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, kiwi fruit, guavas, mangoes, melons, rocket and spinach.

Vitamin E found in vegetable and wheatgerm oil, pecans, walnuts, hazlenuts, avocados, olives and eggs.

Flavanoids found in berries, apples, citrus fruits, broccoli, garlic, onion, tea and oregano.

Lignans found in linseeds, sesame seeds and legumes.

Catechins found in berries, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon and tea.

Indoles found in broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Isothiocyanantes found in horseradish, mustard and radishes.

4. Take your daily sun bath and supplement with Vitamin D.

Vitamin D suppresses pro-inflammatory chemicals and a vitamin D deficiency may promote inflammation.

Again, you can address this with a supplemental cod liver oil as it contains vitamin D, or you can purchase a tablet form or sublingual spray of vitamin D from a health food store, and just get those upper limbs, knees and chest out in the sunshine for 15 minutes a day, obviously this is subject to weather and availability of the sun, but when it’s out – you ought to get out too!

You can also eat pumpkin and sunflower seeds and eggs as these contain some vitamin D but we synthesise active vitamin D from inactive precursors stored in our skin, upon exposre to ultra violet rays.

5. Weight loss.

Fatty tissue expresses pro-inflammatory chemicals, so being overweight can promote chronic inflammation. Calorie over consumption, particularly the calories delivered with processed carbohydrates, saturated and trans-saturated fats are associated with elevated levels of pro-inflammatory markers which are reversible with weight loss.

Read more about vitamin D in this post.

I hope you have a good basic understanding of the processes of inflammation and feel inspired to make some changes today that will benefit you long term.

Big love, Katie, x

























  1. I am all about stress. But I have been moving more. Still tubby but we will get there. x

    • Katie180 says:

      Oh me too Mate, It’s my weakness. I have a good diet, I’m driven to stay fit and the rest of it but my stress needs to be addressed, it saps a lot of the joy from life!

  2. Great post Katie! Off to pin it! x

    • Katie180 says:

      Wow, thanks Nic, I’m yet to really get my head around Pinterest so I’m glad to be there via you! :)) x

  3. Theresa says:

    Very well done succinct for it Ida big topic I’m sure. I’m good at stress management, until I get stressed!! I love early nights. I get mild psoriasis on scalp only- so I imagine omega supplements may help me?! Thank mate. PS your cupcake face is blocking this text box in half so sorry for typos on my i phone!!!

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