What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to foreign substances or injury. It is a normal, healthy process that serves to protect and heal the host by removing harmful substances, preventing their spread, and initiating tissue repair. Inflammation can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).
Acute inflammation is typically accompanied by pain, warmth, and redness of the affected site; it resolves when the cause of the inflammation has been removed. Chronic inflammation may not be accompanied by pain but will persist for longer periods of time, with associated symptoms likely to include swelling, stiffness, and loss of function.
What is chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is a long-term condition that can be caused by a number of factors. It’s often caused by long-term exposure to irritants that the body is unable to remove, such as pesticides and cigarette smoke. Other causes include diet and stress, which can lead to increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in our bodies.
Chronic inflammation doesn’t just cause pain — it also increases your risk of developing other diseases and conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is a sign of a disease.
It’s common to have some level of chronic inflammation and there are many causes:
- Genetics: Some people are more prone to chronic inflammation than others because of their genetics. If your family has a history of inflammatory diseases, you might have an increased risk for these diseases as well.
- Lifestyle factors: These include being overweight, smoking cigarettes, or drinking too much alcohol. Over time, these habits can cause chronic inflammation.
- Stress: Stress causes the release of hormone-like substances called proinflammatory cytokines that can trigger the body’s immune system response–which may take several hours to kick in but once it does will result in symptoms like pain or swelling.
What are the symptoms of chronic inflammation?
The most common symptom of chronic inflammation is pain. The pain can be anywhere in the body, including the joints and muscles. You may also experience fatigue and aching or throbbing pains that return frequently if you have an overactive immune system.
Chronic inflammation needs to be handled with care
If you are experiencing chronic inflammation, it’s important to speak with your doctor. Chronic inflammation can be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires treatment; and if left untreated, it could lead to serious complications.
For example, chronic inflammation of the digestive tract may mean that you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis—two types of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) that cause swelling in the digestive system. If left untreated, these conditions could spread from the intestines throughout your body and lead to life-threatening complications such as infection or bleeding from ulcers in other parts of your body.
Chronic inflammation can also occur when there are too many white blood cells in your body fighting infections around the clock instead of resting normally between attacks. This is why people who experience frequent colds or allergies should talk with their healthcare providers about possible causes for their symptoms before they start taking over-the-counter medications; many common medications can exacerbate problems caused by chronic inflammation because they suppress symptoms instead of targeting root causes like poor diet choices or stressors in daily life
Avoid processed meats and high-fat dairy
Avoid processed meats and high-fat dairy. Processed meats include bacon, lunch meat, and hot dogs because the processing often involves adding preservatives and nitrates. If a food has an ingredient list that is longer than one or two items, stay away from it!
High-fat dairy is full of inflammatory fats like omega-6 fatty acids which are linked to chronic inflammation. Instead of high-fat dairy, choose options like greek yogurt or cottage cheese (if you tolerate them).
Eat more fatty fish and omega-3 supplements
- Eat more fatty fish. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are all high in omega-3s. You can also get them from some types of cold-water fish or flaxseed oils like hemp oil or chia seeds.
- Take an omega-3 supplement. In addition to the foods listed above, you can buy liquid or capsule supplements that provide both EPA and DHA (the two types of omega-3s). Some people prefer taking capsules because they’re easier to swallow than liquids; others find that it’s easier to take a spoonful of liquid than swallow a big pill!
- Consider other sources of omega-3s besides fish and supplement pills: nuts like walnuts; avocados; spinach; kale; Brussels sprouts; quinoa—and more! The list is long but these are some examples to help you get started thinking about foods that may be good for your health too 🙂
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce chronic inflammation. Exercise helps increase circulation, which can improve blood flow to muscles and tissues. It also strengthens your immune system by increasing levels of antibodies and white blood cells that fight infections.
Exercise can be aerobics, weight lifting, or even going for a brisk walk around your neighborhood—the important thing is that you are doing something active every day to get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes at a time. But don’t go overboard: over-exercising (especially strenuous endurance training) can actually increase the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body!
If you’re not used to exercising regularly or if it’s been a while since you worked out regularly (e.g., if you’re recovering from an injury), start slowly by walking every other day for 10 minutes before building up to 30 minutes each day for five days per week as tolerated. It’s better not to push yourself too hard right away; just focus on working up over time rather than trying out several different types of exercises all at once!
Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol is a toxin, and it can cause your body to produce inflammatory chemicals.
The amount of alcohol that causes this reaction varies from person to person. But in general, if you drink more than 3 drinks per day or 7 drinks per week, you’re probably exceeding your limit. Alcohol also affects your liver, which is an organ that helps control inflammation. The liver processes toxins and other harmful substances by breaking them down into smaller molecules (called metabolites) that can be easily removed from the body through urine or feces.
If the liver isn’t working properly because of alcohol use (or any other reason), then those metabolites end up being released into the bloodstream instead of being excreted as they should be—and this may lead to chronic inflammation in various tissues throughout your body.
Quitting smoking is important for your health. It will help you avoid cancer and other serious diseases, and can even help you live longer!
Smoking also increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation is your immune system’s way of trying to protect itself from threats such as bacteria and viruses. When it’s working properly, inflammation helps get rid of damaged cells—and sometimes even foreign objects like a splinter or loose tooth cap—so they don’t cause problems in the future.
But when there’s too much chronic (long-term) inflammation, this causes problems like joint pain or asthma flare-ups because they lead to chronic swelling in different parts of the body over time
Treat infections promptly and get your vaccinations up to date
Infections can cause chronic inflammation, a primary cause of many disease processes. For example, the bacteria that cause pneumonia can also trigger an inflammatory response in the lungs that can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive condition causing shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing with sputum production.
Vaccinations help prevent infections by boosting your immune system to fight off diseases before they happen. Vaccinations are available for many common infections such as influenza (flu), chickenpox, and hepatitis A virus infection. People who have medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease should talk with their doctor about whether and when they should receive immunizations against certain influenza viruses each season because these may not be safe for them at this time due to their underlying health condition.”
Chronic inflammation isn’t a good thing and you can take certain steps to try to avoid it
Chronic inflammation is a long-lasting state of the heightened immune response. It’s often associated with obesity, diabetes, and other diseases that can reduce the quality of your life. But you can take steps to avoid chronic inflammation.
There are two types of chronic inflammation:
- Systemic (systematic) – which means that it affects the whole body
- Localized – where a specific area in the body is inflamed
The link between stress and chronic inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a condition that causes pain and swelling. It can also lead to joint damage, skin problems, and other health issues.
It’s important to understand that chronic inflammation isn’t just one disease—it’s a symptom of many different conditions ranging from arthritis to ulcerative colitis.
Research has shown that stress can affect your immune system in ways that put you at risk for chronic inflammation. For example:
- Stress makes it harder for the body to fight off illness or infection by suppressing immune system cells called T-cells. In turn, this leads to less effective defense systems against bacteria and viruses. This means your body will take longer than usual before recovering from an illness or infection—and it might be more likely for the infection or illness to become chronic.
How to treat chronic inflammation
- Lower your stress levels
- Manage stress better
- Reduce inflammation in the body
- Lower the causes of inflammation
- Diet and exercise help too
Diet and exercise
The next step is to start thinking about diet. A healthy diet is full of antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries and leafy greens. Antioxidants are molecules that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals—scavengers that cause inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids, which we get mostly from fish, have also been shown to reduce inflammation levels, as has vitamin C (found in citrus fruits).
In addition to eating more anti-inflammatory foods like berries and leafy greens, it’s important to avoid foods that are known to increase inflammation in the body. These include fried or processed meats; refined grains like white bread and pasta; sugar; trans fats; and sugary sodas and other drinks with corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup added.
You should also try adding some low-impact exercises into your daily routine—ones that don’t cause excessive strain on your joints or muscles (like walking). This might sound boring at first but once you get used to it you might actually find yourself enjoying these activities! If possible try incorporating some exercises into your daily routine that are not only low impact but fun as well. For example: go dancing every weekend night!
Meditation and relaxation techniques
Meditation and relaxation techniques can help you manage chronic inflammation.
In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that meditation could reduce pain by 57% when compared to other methods like exercise or yoga. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried meditation, here are some tips for getting started:
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down where you won’t be disturbed for 5-20 minutes
- Choose an object on which to focus your attention; this could be your breathing or another repetitive task (like counting) if focusing on an object feels too difficult at first
- When thoughts about the past or future intrude, acknowledge them calmly and then return your attention back to the object
Stress management classes and therapy
Stress management classes and therapy are an excellent choice for chronic stress. Talk therapy can be provided by a psychologist, social worker, or other therapists. This kind of treatment is often covered by insurance and is good for chronic stress.
Treating chronic inflammation can be tricky, but there are tools that can help
Treating chronic inflammation can be tricky, but there are tools that can help.
- In a small bowl, combine turmeric powder and ground black pepper. Use enough turmeric to make the mixture into a paste; you’ll know it’s ready when the turmeric turns yellow and the watery liquid becomes opaque.
- Spread this mixture in an even layer on your lawn before watering it. Leave it overnight to do its work!