Inflammation: The Silent Killer

Part one of three in a series.

Reader Contributed
By Keone Chin

Do you know what makes up your body?  Our bodies are made up of billions of interconnected cells.  To understand how our body works, we must first understand the biology behind it.  The human body is not a machine – when a part breaks, we cannot just fix or change that part.  The kicker that most doctors tend to forget, or maybe not acknowledge, is that the body is a “holistic system.”  If there is an issue with one part of the body, it can be safely assumed that another portion could be affected as well.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is our body’s basic response to injury. Our bodies were made to defend themselves through a sequence of interrelated events. Ultimately the body brings plasma proteins and white blood cells, which engulf and consume foreign material and debris, to the injured area for the purpose of healing.

When our body’s immune system recognizes an invader, such as an injury, toxin or infection, the body wants to eliminate it.  When the body is attacked, white blood cells are summoned to the area by chemical signals.  These white blood cells receive specific instructions to defend the area.

Is inflammation good or bad for us?

Because inflammation is our body’s natural defense system, it takes place at the cellular level.  Before antibiotics and modern healthcare, it was acute inflammation that kept us alive for thousands of years.  Inflammation saves us, but it can also hurt us.

How does inflammation work?
There are three biological terms here that you will need to know – cytokines, monocytes and macrophages.  They may sound complicated, but I will give a simple version of what they are and how they work within our bodies.

The white blood cells secrete chemicals including oxidants, which damages the invader by breaking it down until it is destroyed.  The white blood cells also signal small protein molecules called cytokine.  Cytokine direct and orchestrate the attacks on the invaders, kind of like a battlefield strategist.

Monocytes, which are a very aggressive type of white blood cell, face the invaders head on.  If the invader is a germ, and the monocytes kill off the germs, some of the monocytes will then convert themselves into macrophages.  The macrophages job is to eat all the dead and damaged germ cells.

Your body’s immune system will battle until every invader is destroyed and all the dead and damaged invasive cells are rid of.  In which, the cytokines direct the dilation of small blood vessels, forcing more blood to the infected area.  With more blood come more monocytes and red blood cells which carry oxygen.  This is the stage when inflammation becomes visible.

Keone Chin is not a medical professional or practitioner, and makes no medical claims. Chin’s perspectives on health and wellness come from the book “The Cure for Heart Disease; Truth Will Save a Nation,” by Dwight Lundell, M.D.

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