Throughout human history, injuries led to inflammation. Inflammation is a natural part of the healing process and should subside once healing is complete. In the 1950s corticosteroids were developed which reduced the inflammation associated with injuries and surgery…but the healing also stopped because these steroids shut down the immune system. Inflammation is an essential part of healing, but chronic inflammation is associated with many health problems.
Imagine a situation in which your body does not react to injury, irritation or attack by infections. The injury, pathogens, or irritation would end up destroying your body and killing you. But the immune system within your body is smarter. It causes inflammation to fight against the intruders.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s reaction to physical, emotional, psychological, chemical or environmental harm. It occurs whenever the body’s autoimmune system senses some threat such as injury, cell damage, irritants, microbes and stress. Inflammation is necessary for maintenance of good health and occurs in order to restore the body to its healthy status. If this, however, does not happen, and the body remains in a perpetual state of inflammation various hazards can result.
Deficiencies of nutrients such as the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (from borage oil and grass fed animals), and fish oil can cause or worsen inflammation. Excesses of sugar, overcooked oils (generating trans fats), and overcooked foods (generating HCA, PAH, and AGES) can cause inflammation. Eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) is asking for chronic inflammation in the body, which is why prescription medications that suppress the pain from this chronic inflammation are so commonly used.
Symptoms of inflammation
There are two types of inflammation; acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs soon after the stimuli-causing agent or activity makes contact with a part of the body while chronic inflammation results when the body is continuously exposed to the inflammation-causing agent or activity.
Symptoms of acute inflammation include pain, redness, immobility, swelling and heat. These symptoms arise within a short time and will normally disappear once the cause of the inflammation is no longer present or, in the case of an injury, healing has started and is progressing well. Acute inflammation usually disappears within hours or a few days.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation include skin rash, fever, joint pain, chest pain, abdominal pain, mouth sores and fatigue. Chronic inflammation results from exposure to inflammation-causing agents or activities for a long time. It arises slowly and can stay for months or even years.
Causes of inflammation
Inflammation occurs as a result of an activity that irritates the body internally or externally. The most common causes include the following:
- Imbalance of bacteria, viruses or fungi in the gastrointestinal tract or bloodstream. This causes an immune system reaction or inflammation.
- Food allergies and sensitivities. Some people experience allergies or sensitivity to some types of food, while consumption of other specific types of food is known to cause irritation in most human beings. Long-term consumption of these foods can lead to chronic irritation and therefore chronic inflammation.
- Poor diet that contains excess fat, sugar or protein. Excess of specific nutrients causes imbalance in the body and may lead to inflammation.
- Poor lifestyle choices that involves excess consumption of soft drinks, caffeine, poor sleeping patterns and lack of physical activity.
- Physical, emotional or psychological stress especially when it is chronically present. This interferes with the normal activities in the body which is irritating and may lead to chronic inflammation.
9 Reasons to Avoid Inflammation in Your Body
While acute inflammation helps the body to recover from irritation, chronic inflammation causes many hazards in the body. It is associated with many chronic diseases and health conditions including cardiovascular diseases and aging.
Following are 9 Reasons to Avoid Inflammation in Your Body:
1. It can cause IBD
The gut contains clusters of immune system cells which normally do not attack the large colonies of bacteria and other gut microorganisms. However, in some people, the immune system attacks the gut microorganisms leading to the autoimmune condition known as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). The condition presents with diarrhea, ulcers and cramps among other symptoms. Treatment of IBD may include surgical removal of parts of the intestines. Do You Suffer From A Bloated Stomach?
2. Inflammation can lead to asthma
Chronic inflammation within the lungs can lead to asthma and other chronic lung ailments including chronic bronchitis and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Inflammation within the lungs can result from smoking, eating smoke-cured meats, obesity and exposure to chemical and other pollutants.
3. Inflammation can lead to arthritis
When chronic inflammation occurs within joints, it can cause serious damage to the joints which may lead to arthritis and other joint ailments such as gout. Inflammation within joints may be hereditary or be caused by some types of food.
4. Inflammation can interfere with sleep
It is not clear which comes ahead of the other, however, studies indicate that people who get less than average amount of sleep usually suffer from chronic inflammation. This may mean that either inflammation can lead to poor sleep or lack of adequate sleep can lead to chronic inflammation. It is worth noting that stress can lead to chronic inflammation as well as interfere with sleep.
5. Inflammation increases the risk of cancer
Various studies have linked chronic inflammation to the development of various cancers. One study by Harvard University scientists, found that obese youth who have chronic inflammation have an increased risk of adulthood colorectal cancer compared to lean youths.
According to the study, whether the inflammation resulted from the obesity or other causes such as chronic infection, irritants or chronic conditions, it increased the risk of developing cancer later in life.
6. Inflammation can make weight loss difficult
Being overweight or obese is associated with increased inflammation in the body. And while weight reduction is the way to reduce inflammation, chronic inflammation makes it very difficult to lose weight. Chronic inflammation can stimulate hunger pangs while slowing down metabolism. This leads to increased food consumption and reduced breakdown of food which can interfere with any weight loss plans. In addition, chronic inflammation increases insulin resistance which increases the risk of developing diabetes type 2.
7. Inflammation can damage gums
Chronic inflammation of gums (periodontitis) due to continued exposure to oral bacteria, can lead to receding gums as well as damage to the supporting skeletal structures. This oral inflammation is also associated to other problems including dementia and heart disease.
8. Inflammation causes skin aging
Inflammation occurs both internally and externally and besides affecting other parts and organs of the body, is responsible for signs of skin aging including appearance of wrinkles. Chronic inflammation is also responsible for other skin conditions like psoriasis.
9. It can lead to heart disease
Chronic inflammation as a result of buildup of plaque within blood vessels can lead to their narrowing and formation of blood clots. This can interfere with the flow of blood and lead to heart disease and other circulatory conditions such as high blood pressure and stroke. Various studies indicate that people who have chronic inflammation including those who suffer from psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease have an increased risk of heart disease.
While inflammation is responsible for recovery from infection and irritation, chronic inflammation is bad for good health. For this reason, it is important to address the cause of any chronic inflammation. Avoid any foods or other irritants including chemicals, environmental irritants and stress.
Foods that are anti-inflammatory include fish oil, fish, curcumin, ginger, and most fruits and vegetables.