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Inflammation provides protection against communicable diseases?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 26, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Just ran across this post by Dr. Art Ayers of Cooling Inflammation:

http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/2008/12/paleolithic-perspective-on-biomedical.html

"Agriculture focused on seed harvest results in a dramatic shift in diet and disease. Communicable disease was not a problem for hunter/gatherers, because of the necessarily widely distributed small population groups. Agriculture concentrates populations around the crop lands and increases the benefits of physiological energy expenditures on heightened immune activity to provide consistent protection against pathogens. Agriculture required chronic inflammation for disease protection.

Inflammation triggered by cues in the agricultural diet would have a high selective advantage. Individuals who increased their chronic level of inflammation in response to high blood sugar, compounds produced during cooking, i.e. AGE, vitamin C deficiency, vitamin D deficiency (low exposure to sun) and/or omega-3 oil deficiency, would have survival advantage in high population densities associated with agriculture."

He is not advocating inflammation, but I thought it was interesting. Do you think he is correct?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:38 PM

Ok, p42 on "Skeletal muscle damage and repair" on googlebook shows that inflammation in the muscles after exercise is involved in repair. Matt Metzgar (mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/02/page/3) discusses the way that people with lower chronic inflammation gain more muscle and people with higher background inflammation lose more muscle however. Also here (http://www.elements4health.com/inflammation-after-acute-injury-is-essential-to-muscle-repair.html) mice with their inflammatory response knocked out don't recover from muscle damage.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:35 PM

Ok, p42 on "Skeletal muscle damage and repair" on googlebook shows that inflammation in the muscles after exercise is involved in repair. Matt Metzgar (http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/02/page/3/) discusses the way that people with lower *chronic* inflammation gain more muscle and people with higher background inflammation lose more muscle however.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 27, 2010
at 11:58 AM

That said, the people you know with inflammation problems are presumably unhealthier people anyway (lacking micronutrients etc) and the fact that they visibly have inflammation problems means that they were people who were ill/otherwise damaged in the first place. Plus no-one is saying that present hyper-inflammation is a desirable adaptation, we're saying that a tendency to be slightly over-inflammatory in paleo/early neolithic could have been desirable. Presumably a large reason for high levels of inflammation is an adaptive response to damage, not just our bodies trying to kill us.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on November 27, 2010
at 03:24 AM

I agree. A "revved-up" immune system is not necessarily a more effective immune system.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 26, 2010
at 09:42 PM

Well the short answer (before I go to bed) is that after sufficiently intense exercise your body responds with inflammation in order to repair the low level damage and rebuild your muscles etc better and stronger. Notably if you take massive doses of anti-oxidants/anti-inflammatories after exericse this blunts your recovery and improvement (I'll dig up the study tomorrow morning). This is acute, insofar that it's localised and short-lived and positive.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4111)

on November 26, 2010
at 08:11 PM

@david: concerning this sentence "e.g. reducing chronic inflammation can actually improve the efficiency of acute inflammatory responses, for example, after exercise." ----can you elaborate? I apologize if this is an elementary question, but it sounds interesting and I am wondering exactly what 'acute inflammatory responses after exercise' are. Thanks!

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2 Answers

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 26, 2010
at 05:04 PM

The thing is, the people I know with inflammation problems do NOT have good immunity. They are sick people who get even sicker easily. The body has many lines of defense that do not require high levels of inflammation. Personally, I think the levels we are seeing of inflammation in current societies are the result of poor environmental conditions and poor diet and I think that kind of thing is NOT good for neither health nor for immunity. I think this kind of high inflammation is simply a matter of the body being out of balance due to environments it is not adapted to. I do not believe it is actually an adaptation and I don' tthink that being kind of sick is good for preventing sickness. I think a healthy balanced body can attack germs effectively while still being at the peak of health. THere are a lot of interesting theories that turn out later to be completely incorrect. I will not be surprised if this turns out to be one of those theories. In order to alter my stance, I will need to be seeing some kind of evidence other than supposition.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on November 27, 2010
at 03:24 AM

I agree. A "revved-up" immune system is not necessarily a more effective immune system.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 27, 2010
at 11:58 AM

That said, the people you know with inflammation problems are presumably unhealthier people anyway (lacking micronutrients etc) and the fact that they visibly have inflammation problems means that they were people who were ill/otherwise damaged in the first place. Plus no-one is saying that present hyper-inflammation is a desirable adaptation, we're saying that a tendency to be slightly over-inflammatory in paleo/early neolithic could have been desirable. Presumably a large reason for high levels of inflammation is an adaptive response to damage, not just our bodies trying to kill us.

1
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 26, 2010
at 01:56 PM

Yes, but what's more I think we can generalise and say that hunter-gatherers would also benefit from a greater tendency to inflammation (more omega 6 to omega 3, for example), than would be optimal for us. Inflammatory response is central to the body's responses to all manner of damage and it seems highly plausible that in a paleo context there would be an advantage to over-doing things and definitely being able to fight off infections and heal potentially deadly wounds than, while incurring a bit of collateral damage that will only reduce your health in a chronic, low level, long term way. I presume that this is why so many people suffer from auto-immune and inflammatory conditions today, because we evolved with a preference for a few false positives (giving us a bit of arthritis) rather than false negatives (bleeding to death or letting an infection get out of control). This tendency has doubtless only been compounded by neolithic lifestyle.

Of course what we don't know is whether this means that we should adapt by deliberately trying to lower inflammation now, for example by taking 2:1 o-3:06 rather than 1:2. I think it's certainly better to err on the side of more omega 3, whether or not it's reproducing typical paleo patterns, so long as there's a sign of too much inflammation. It's also worth bearing in mind that some counter-intuitive things occur with inflammation: e.g. reducing chronic inflammation can actually improve the efficiency of acute inflammatory responses, for example, after exercise.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 26, 2010
at 09:42 PM

Well the short answer (before I go to bed) is that after sufficiently intense exercise your body responds with inflammation in order to repair the low level damage and rebuild your muscles etc better and stronger. Notably if you take massive doses of anti-oxidants/anti-inflammatories after exericse this blunts your recovery and improvement (I'll dig up the study tomorrow morning). This is acute, insofar that it's localised and short-lived and positive.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:35 PM

Ok, p42 on "Skeletal muscle damage and repair" on googlebook shows that inflammation in the muscles after exercise is involved in repair. Matt Metzgar (http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/02/page/3/) discusses the way that people with lower *chronic* inflammation gain more muscle and people with higher background inflammation lose more muscle however.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4111)

on November 26, 2010
at 08:11 PM

@david: concerning this sentence "e.g. reducing chronic inflammation can actually improve the efficiency of acute inflammatory responses, for example, after exercise." ----can you elaborate? I apologize if this is an elementary question, but it sounds interesting and I am wondering exactly what 'acute inflammatory responses after exercise' are. Thanks!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:38 PM

Ok, p42 on "Skeletal muscle damage and repair" on googlebook shows that inflammation in the muscles after exercise is involved in repair. Matt Metzgar (mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/02/page/3) discusses the way that people with lower chronic inflammation gain more muscle and people with higher background inflammation lose more muscle however. Also here (http://www.elements4health.com/inflammation-after-acute-injury-is-essential-to-muscle-repair.html) mice with their inflammatory response knocked out don't recover from muscle damage.

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