Biochemistry of Inflammation Part I

As part of our ongoing conversation regarding factors that impact our health, I want to spend some time addressing the biochemistry of inflammation.   The understanding of this process can help you in your quest for good health. Let me explain how it works.  Our bodies are composed of 50 trillion or more cells.  Every single hour approximately 1 billion cells die and another billion are made—a process that goes on 24/7.  When even a single cell dies it releases histamine, which in turn produces a microscopic amount of swelling.  Histamine and the swelling or inflammation it produces is normal and necessary.  On the biochemical level, this swelling signals white blood cells (your immune system) to be drawn into the area.   Why does this happen?

When cells die there’s a mess, and it needs to be cleaned up.  White blood cells are designed to do just that.  The swelling is their sign to move into the area.  They take into themselves foreign matter, not just viruses, bacteria and fungi but also dead cell debris.  The type of white blood cell that ingests foreign matter is the neutrophil.  After completing their task, the neutrophils die and more arrive to continue the process.  When these cells have finished their work another type of white blood cell—basophils—come into the area.  They release histaminase, an enzyme that stops the release of histamine.    

Now your body is ready to bring about repair in the area of the dead cells—a process initiated by a third type of white blood cell, the lymphocyte.  Since cells are constantly dying this process never ends.  The biochemistry of inflammation is an essential process that takes place continuously in our bodies.

What I’ve just described is the perfect scenario.  If the biochemistry of inflammation works 24/7, as described, we will be healthy.  It takes a strong immune system to reach this goal.  What can we do to help our bodies successfully complete the process?  Here are the key points:

  1. Move toward eating more whole foods while reducing refined and processed foods.
  2. Start taking whole food supplements based on your individual needs.  
  3. Drink plenty of pure water—half your body weight in ounces (e.g., 100# = 50 oz. of water)
  4. Get plenty of sleep—a minimum of 7-8 hours.
  5. Make exercise a regular part of your schedule—a minimum of 30 minutes/3 times a week.
  6. Think positive.

Be sure to check out Part II in this series.