I recently attended a conference on inflammation. What caught my eye before signing up for the conference was the line-up of speakers. All were MDs or NDs recognized in their fields of healthcare…cardiology, oncology, psychiatry, hypertension and autoimmunity. Each one has been in practice for 20+ years and is a researcher, author and educator. It was exciting to hear this group of doctors share research about inflammation and the importance of getting to the root cause of one’s disease rather than attending to only the symptoms. They didn’t disappoint.
Inflammation is a response to something that causes harm in the body. That “something” can be a:
– Pathogen (bacteria, virus)
– Trauma (physical wound, emotional stress)
– Toxic compound (environmental pollutant, chemical)
– Dysregulated immune response
Most of us are familiar with localized inflammation that occurs after physical injury…pain, redness, swelling, feeling warm to the touch. The reaction can happen within seconds or minutes of being injured. The body responds by rushing blood to the wounded area to start the healing process. This is known as acute inflammation. It can last a few hours or a few days depending on the severity of the injury and the strength of your immune system. But when your immune system isn’t strong enough to successfully eliminate the cause of the damage and fully repair, it can result in chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is long-term inflammation that can last weeks, months, and in some cases even years. It has been shown to contribute to the increase of many health issues in the United States, such as:
– Heart disease
– Weight gain
The origin of chronic inflammation is often more subtle than a cut finger or broken bone. Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation doesn’t occur instantaneously. Under the best of circumstances, the body’s immune system is tightly regulated. But when the body is unable to regulate its inflammatory response, especially over time, the result is a highly burdensome state. This burden is often caused, and made worse, by:
– Poor nutrition
– Exposure to toxins
– A sedentary lifestyle
– Insufficient restorative sleep
– Poor gut health
– Lack of down-time
A cascade of poor health habits can create the perfect storm and lead to life-altering conditions such as painful joints, brain fog, low energy, depression, digestive upset, diabetes, memory loss, heart disease or an inability to healthfully manage stress.
We have to allow for “healthy” inflammation because it plays a critical role in our survival. But frequent episodes of inflammation, or inflammation that goes untreated, can suppress the immune system and eventually lead to immune exhaustion.
How can you support your immune system so it can tamp down inflammation or, better yet, keep it at bay?
- Eat a diet rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and fish oil.
- Limit your exposure to plastics, pesticides and toxins.
- Get plenty of restful sleep.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Engage in moderate exercise.
- Stay mindful of your surroundings, thoughts and actions as a way to reduce stress.
Inflammation rarely comes from a single source. More likely, it is a combination of burdensome events. I encourage you to seek assistance to get to the root cause of your inflammation rather than masking or ignoring symptoms that keep you from feeling your best.
Here’s to your health and vitality!
I believe good health is as close as your kitchen. My nutrition practice is based on nutrient-dense, whole food and lifestyle choices that support health and wellness, especially during times of high stress and transitions. My role is to educate, guide and support individuals who want to break the stress-induced cycle of depletion and regain control of their health. As a Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® (Candidate), I look forward to helping you create a vibrant life. To learn more, contact me at 303-594-4401 or by email.