Inflammation. We hear the term tossed around an awful lot in today’s healthcare / chronic disease environment. But not everyone understands what this means. Most of us are familar with the inflammation that comes from a sprained ankle. The hallmarks of inflammation are calor (heat), tumor (swelling), rubor (redness) and dolaor (pain) and all these come to mind when dealing with a sprain. This process is mediated by chemicals that are designed to stem the damage and fix the injury.
But what about the flu? A bacterial infection? The same process occurs, but it is no longer localized to the injured area. The chemicals released flow throughout the body. The number of chemicals is quite large and consists of molecules called cytokines and consists of interluekins, chemokines and lymphokines. The secretion of these compounds determine our body’s response to a percieved or actual problem. The balance of their activity is akin to a massively complex orchestra; send it out of tune and the results can be devastating.
In this particular article, researchers looked more closely at the finding that inflammation has a strong detrimental effect on bone health. While they were able to confirm that inflamation indeed sucks calcium out of bones, what they find is not so simple. It appears that different aspects of the immune system will pull calcium from the bones, while other aspects protect the bone.
Until we get a clearer picture, the key concept here is immune balance. This is, of course, achieved early in life by making sure we have the right bacteria in our gut, breastfeed as long as possible, avoid unneccesary immunization and, later in life keep our gut and oral health up, identify food allergies such as gluten, eat a diet high in minerals like zinc, potassium and calcium as well as phytonutrients and keep optimal levels of Vitamin D in our bloodstream.