Raena Morgan: Doctor Roizen, we hear so much about inflammation. It’s the culprit in so many things, but what exactly is it?
Dr. Michael Roizen: Inflammation is what we call a- it’s a very interesting question because when you say what causes it, that’s much easier than what it is.
MR: What inflammation really is in the body is an increase in white cells or an increase in what you might call metabolic activity where it doesn’t belong.
MR: But in most cases in humans, we mean there is a white cell activity, there is an immune activity, there is an infection or a fighting activity-
RM: All right.
MR: -against a foreign invader or perceived foreign invader. So for example, if you don’t floss your teeth, you will develop inflammation between the teeth and in the gums, because of bacteria your white cells will fight it, and that fight actually has some innocent bystanders along with it, the gum tissue, and that destroys some of the gum tissue. So it’s that war that’s going on between the two sides, but that also sets up we think another interesting thing. When you have that reaction, you set up an immune reaction that attacks the inner lining of your arteries, causing inflammation in your arteries. So gum disease causes that attack in the arteries-
RM: That’s the connection, all right.
MR: -where some part of your immune system is attacking your arteries, it doesn’t normally. Well it’s that attack that we call inflammation.
RM: So it sets off the immune system and then that spreads to other places?
MR: It can. So the infection or inflammation in the teeth is actually this war and the white cells actually give up their life to kill the infection, they kill themselves if you will, to fight it. But the innocent bystander, if you will, is the gum tissue which dies in the process and gets inflamed in the process.
RM: So arteries can become inflamed, or tissue can become inflamed?
MR: Joints, arteries, I don’t know of anything that can’t become inflamed.
RM: That’s, like I said, a culprit.
MR: Bone can become inflamed, so yeah I think it’s probably everything. If you had a metal hip in, if you had artificial organs, we don’t know that those can become inflamed, but the tissue around those can become inflamed.
RM: So there are a multitude of things that we could do to prevent inflammation, for example flossing our teeth.
MR: Exactly. Or taking DHA, the omega-3 that’s beneficial for heart, brain, and eye health, or taking a probiotic which may decrease the inflammation inside your gut. So have that fish oil, if you will, but it’s the active component of the fish oil- DHA is the omega-3 that algae have, or have a probiotic, all of those have a range of activities that decrease. There are a wide range of things,-
MR: -even physical activity decreases inflammation. Too much physical activity-
RM: That’s right.
MR: -increases inflammation.
RM: Okay. Thank you very much.
MR: Thank you, Raena.
Dr. Michael Roizen explains what inflammation is, what causes it and the problems that can follow with prolonged inflammation. He also gives us some tips to reduce inflammation in our body and reduce the health risks associated with inflammation.
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