Inflammation in small amounts is a good thing. It gets rid of invaders with platelets and white blood cells. This is called acute inflammation which occurs when you have an infection, a sprain, or a cut.
Signs that inflammation is doing its job could be redness, swelling, warmth, pain, a scab or a sore throat. Helpful acute inflammation is in and out of our bodies in about three to five days.
Chronic inflammation happens when the immune system misfires and white blood cells release large amounts of chemical messengers. They usher out invaders that aren’t actually invaders. This causes healthy tissue to break down. The result is an endless loop of inflammation, damage, inflammation, damage known as a chronic inflammatory response.
Most acute and chronic diseases result in inflammation such as Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, asthma, allergies, and kidney disease. The bad news is that once we have inflammation, there’s a good chance of having another disease or condition as well. When normal functioning is disrupted in one area, it places stress on other bodily systems.
We are all susceptible to chronic inflammation which increases with age. We also have a propensity toward weight gain as we age which causes an increase in body fat which is pro-inflammatory. Excess weight drives inflammation and inflammation drives weight gain, so it’s a vicious cycle.
The biggest drivers of chronic inflammation are stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, obesity, and physical inactivity. Almost half of our society is chronically inflamed, and it’s happening earlier and earlier in life.
The good news is that we are not all destined to a life of chronic inflammation. It can be stopped with a healthy diet and exercise. In next month’s article, I will talk about exercises, food, and other healthy habits that work to reduce inflammation in our bodies.
The key is to crowd out personal stressors with healthy life choices.