“If you are overweight, arthritis, asthma, allergies, diabetes or heart disease, you are part of the…..Inflammation Nation” — Dr Floyd H. Chilton.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation isn’t always bad!
Each of us have experienced inflammation by the time we could walk and talk — tenderness, swelling, redness and local heat around a cut for instance. Inflammation is a natural, healthy response to cellular damage or a natural, healthy immune response to a perceived threat, such as falls, mosquito bites, sprains, etc.
The body is constantly exposed to bacteria, viruses, toxins and other intrusions so inflammation is part of its natural response. When the body cells fight against foreign objects, it releases free radicals causing red, swollen and hot wounds. Inflammation plays a major role in body’s healing process.
No inflammation means no healing.
However, we want the inflammation to be local, short and fast.
When Immune Cells Get Out Of Control, Chronic Inflammation Occurs
If for some reason, the body’s immune system is declining or dysfunctional, natural inflammation cannot be completed efficiently. It can either go too aggressively and continue to self-attack even in the absence of foreign objects, or the inflammation process is too mild and only takes place in a low grade meaning the healing process unable to complete.
This is the type of inflammation we need to watch out for. It is chronic inflammation that is generally silent, sticks around for months or years, doesn’t heal but rather can attack your body and also constantly exposes it to toxins.
Many studies have shown that chronic inflammation is associated with some common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, obesity and even cancer. (1-4)
An Unhealthy Lifestyle & Diet Can Cause Chronic Inflammation
Certain lifestyles and foods promote inflammation, especially when they occur on a regular basis.
- Consuming high amounts of sugar — high fructose corn syrup is particularly bad and can lead to insulin resistance.
- Consuming refined carbs — white bread, white rice and packaged food (biscuits, cakes) can also contribute to inflammation.
- Trans fats — these are another key category that have also been shown to promote inflammation and damage cells.
- Vegetable oils — these are used in mosts processed foods and for cooking and are another culprit. Consuming too much vegetable oil (sunflower, grapeseed, canola) that is high in omega-6 and not getting enough omega-3 can result in an imbalance in the omega-6-omega-3 ratio and lead to inflammation.
- Alcohol and smoking.
- Red meat — can also have inflammatory effects.
- Dairy — those who unable to digest the protein in dairy may experience inflammation to the body.
- Other lifestyle factor: stress, lack of exercise, lack of sleep.
How To Tell If You Have Chronic Inflammation?
If you have more than 3 of the symptoms below, you may be experiencing chronic inflammation:
- Lack of energy
- Sleeping disturbance
- Low libido
- Muscle weakness
- Skin allergies
- Sore body
- Nose allergies
- Low immunity – having more than 3 colds and flu per year
- Unable to concentrate, poor memory
- Heart disease, high blood pressure
- Auto immune system disorders such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis
Kolb H, Mandrup-Poulsen T. The global diabetes epidemic as a consequence of lifestyle-induced low-grade inflammation. Diabetologia. 2010 Jan;53(1):10-20.doi: 10.1007/s00125-009-1573-7. Epub 2009 Nov 5. Review. PubMed PMID: 19890624.
Thomas A. Pearson, George A. Mensah, R. Wayne Alexander, Jeffrey L. Anderson, Richard O. Cannon, Michael Criqui, Yazid Y. Fadl, Stephen P. Fortmann, Yuling Hong, Gary L. Myers, Nader Rifai, Sidney C. Smith, Kathryn Taubert, Russell P. Tracy, Frank Vinicor. Markers of Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease. 2003;107:499-511
Tilg H, Moschen AR. Evolution of inflammation in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: the multiple parallel hits hypothesis. Hepatology. 2010 Nov;52(5):1836-46. doi: 10.1002/hep.24001. Review. PubMed PMID: 21038418.
Gregor MF, Hotamisligil GS. Inflammatory mechanisms in obesity. Annu Rev Immunol. 2011;29:415-45. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-031210-101322. Review. PubMed PMID: 21219177.