Inflammation is a huge buzz-word in the wellness industry these days. And, while a variety of studies have linked inflammation and chronic diseases and weight gain, it also serves a positive purpose in healing your body from injury. Yet, inflammation is thought to be the common link between such debilitating conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, the visible signs of aging – and now, there is even evidence for inflammation as a cause of suicide in depressive personalities.
When Inflammation is Good for Your Body
First, here’s the good that inflammation does for your body.
“When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection, and may result in redness and warmth.” (WebMD.com)
In other words, if you sprain your ankle for example, the area will quickly become inflamed as your body works to repair the injury for you, sending more blood and oxygen to the damaged area. This is a natural process that allows for self-healing and which has taken place since the dawn of man.
When Inflammation Harms You
However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.
The modern epidemic of chronic, low-grade inflammation has taken this response to an extreme, destroying the balance in your body. When your body’s systems experience a constant inflammatory response, you become more susceptible to aging and disease.
Symptoms of inflammation include:
- Visible signs of aging like wrinkles.
- Susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
- Acid reflux
- Skin conditions like psoriasis and acne.
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Urinary tract infections
Changes to diet and lifestyle are the best steps to take to reduce chronic inflammation. Stay tuned for future posts on specific steps you can take to reduce inflammation.