What is Inflammation?
July 09, 2022
Submitted by True Health Chiropractic & Massage
Inflammation has become a hot topic when it comes to our health. People are advised to consume foods that are anti-inflammatory; there has been an explosion of supplements to control inflammation; we are warned that poor lifestyle choices will lead to inflammation; and it seems like almost every disease is caused by or linked to inflammation.
So what is inflammation, why is it bad, and how can we avoid it?
Inflammation refers to your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it—such as infections, injuries and toxins—in an attempt to heal itself. When something damages your cells, the body releases chemicals that trigger a response from the immune system.
Inflammation can be either acute or chronic. If a cut on your skin swells up, turns red, and hurts, those are signs of acute, or short-lived, inflammation. Symptoms like fever, nausea, or sore throat may be signs of acute inflammation caused by bacteria or a virus. Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s defense to injury or infection, and, in this way, it is extremely beneficial.
But chronic inflammation happens when the body’s defense system triggers an immune response against healthy tissues or the immune response lasts for a long time and doesn’t “shut off”. Symptoms of chronic inflammation such as fatigue, digestive issues, skin problems, joint pain, or headaches, are often somewhat vague and may occur over a long period of time, so these symptoms are easy to dismiss or ignore. Sometimes the inflammation doesn’t produce any symptoms and we aren’t even aware that it is slowly damaging our body and playing a key role in many diseases. Diseases associated with chronic inflammation include:
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus
- Cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease
- Gastrointestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease
- Lung diseases like asthma
- Mental illnesses like depression
- Metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes
- Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease
- Some types of cancer, like colon cancer
What causes this chronic inflammation? The answer isn’t as simple as the cause of acute inflammation. However, environmental factors like toxins, chemicals, pesticides, drinking water, etc. and lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, poor eating habits, being overweight, lack of exercise, and emotional stress may all play a significant role in chronic inflammation. The good thing is that we have a great deal of control over these lifestyle factors and can therefore prevent and reduce our risk for many serious diseases that are associated with chronic inflammation.
Here are some important ways to prevent and reverse chronic inflammation.
- Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. Studies have shown that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation; some of the best sources are salmon, tuna, tofu, walnuts, and flax seeds. Other anti-inflammatory foods include grapes, blueberries, avocados, garlic, and olive oil.
- Cut back or eliminate inflammatory foods. Try to avoid sugar, trans fat, red meat, and processed foods as much as possible.
- Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent inflammation. Physical activity reduces levels of a protein called TNF that is an inflammation trigger. At the same time, exercise causes your muscle cells to release another protein called Interleukin 6 which helps fight inflammation.
- Manage Your Stress. Chronic stress is a huge contributor to inflammation. When stressed, our body goes into “fight-or-flight” mode and produces a hormone called cortisol. Prolonged stress alters the ability of cortisol to regulate the inflammatory response and can wreak havoc on our immune system. Try meditation, yoga, journaling, or some other method to keep stress levels down.
Managing inflammation is important. Unfortunately, many people want a “magic bullet” or a quick fix which simply doesn’t work. Start taking steps in the right direction toward a healthier life. The better our immune systems function and the healthier our bodies are, the better chance we are going to be able to fight illness and infection. After all, if you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
For more information on living a healthier life, contact True Health Chiropractic &Massage at (309) 585-0704 or visit them online at www.TrueHealthBN.com . Their office is located at 2406 East Washington Street in Bloomington, IL. They offer two new patient specials, which include a $75 consultation, exam, X-rays ($350 value), and a $39 relaxation massage! They accept most insurance.
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