So often inflammation gets a bad rap. But I think it’s because we don’t really understand how important it is. By understanding how inflammation affects the body, we have a better chance of preventing disease, or from having it reoccur again. So, let’s start off with what inflammation is.
When you look up the definition of inflammation this is what it says...a localized physical condition, in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.
Which simply means, inflammation is our body's natural response to stress, and we need it to heal! Think of the redness and swelling that occurs when you scrape your knee, sprain or break your ankle, even a bee sting.
Inflammation is your body's way of sending help to the source of stress. This is known as acute inflammation...meaning it only occurs in a specific part of the body. Acute inflammation is the body's first line of defense against harm. This, in itself, is a beautiful thing. Without it, our bodies could not heal properly.
So, if acute inflammation is a good thing, then why is inflammation linked to disease?
Here's where things get interesting! The problem isn't the fact that we have inflammation in the body. The problem is long-term inflammation which occurs in the body. Which means, it's lasting for a long period of time...like several months or years. This is known as chronic inflammation.
While inflammation itself is the cornerstone of the body's healing response, it becomes chronic when it serves no purpose. And when it has no purpose, it begins to damage the body, and cause issues like illness.
Through years of research, it’s become clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many conditions. Here are just few examples: asthma, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, obesity, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, strokes, and unfortunately, the list doesn’t stop there!
But what really leads to chronic inflammation?
Honestly, the major contributor is our lifestyle! This can be from a poor diet, lack of exercise, too much stress, not completely healing from being sick, residual effects of long term medication, toxins in our food, air, personal and cleaning products, and so forth. Research has shown that chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant causes of death in the world. So, reducing the amount of toxins that enter our bodies is key.
How can we tell if we have chronic inflammation in our bodies?
This is not a comprehensive list, but here are some common signs or symptoms that develop as a result.
- body or joint pain
- constant fatigue or insomnia
- memory loss or brain fog
- depression or anxiety
- constipation or diarrhea
- feeling bloated or puffy most of the time
- weight gain
- always sick
- acid reflux
As you can tell, inflammation can wreak havoc in our bodies. But the good news is, we can start to eliminate chronic inflammation by following some easy simple steps.
- following an anti-inflammatory diet
- Increasing our hydration
- regular exercise
- reducing our stress
- Increasing our quality of sleep
- nurturing positive emotional and mental health
- removing and replacing unhealthy habits
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll dive into each of these areas and talk about how we can begin making changes to minimize our chronic inflammation.