Chronic Inflammation: Your Body’s Hidden Enemy
If you’re injured or sick, your immune system will go into action to repair the damage created by that injury or illness.
One of your immune system’s primary weapons? Inflammation.
Inflammation occurs when your body increases blood flow to damaged tissue. This extra blood flow increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients so that healing occurs at a faster rate. Increased blood flow also increases your body temperature, which helps to kill invading cells that can cause infection.
Once you have healed, or the invading pathogens are defeated, your immune system sends out signals that tell your body to stop the inflammation and to return to normal.
But what if those signals aren’t sent, and consequently your immune system doesn’t know it’s time to shut that inflammation off?
That’s when inflammation that is a healthy part of the healing process turns into chronic inflammation.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
When things are working properly, tissue that is damaged or diseased will release chemicals that cause swelling to the affected area. These chemicals also attract phagocytes (a kind of white blood cell) that will consume the damaged cells.
Normally, this process stops when the damage is contained. But sometimes the immune system continues reacting even after there is no more damaged tissue. When this happens, the immune system attacks healthy tissue instead. Simply put, the immune system gets started, but doesn’t know how to shut itself off.
This all begs the question: What causes healthy inflammation to become chronic inflammation?
Many factors can cause chronic inflammation, including:
Your adrenal glands release cortisol in response to stress. One of cortisol’s jobs is to suppress inflammation so it doesn’t get out of control. However, long-term stress and long-term over-production of cortisol can make your body cortisol-resistant. One of the results of cortisol resistance is chronic inflammation.
Most chronic inflammation begins in the digestive tract. Processed foods and foods that are high in simple sugars can overwork your GI tract, causing long-term inflammation. Food allergies can also trigger inflammation-related issues.
Excess abdominal weight puts stress on the body and can trigger chronic inflammation. Being overweight has also been linked to type 2 diabetes, which has likewise been linked to chronic inflammation.
- Hormone Imbalance
Men and women both experience a reduction in important hormones as they age. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid imbalances can result in weight gain, bone loss, insomnia, and other conditions that can cause long-term inflammation.
- Environmental Toxins
Chemicals in the air, water, and soil around you are recognized by your immune system as being the same as pathogens. In other words, environmental toxins can initiate inflammation the same way pathogens do. Likewise long-term exposure to environmental toxins can result in chronic inflammation.
What Conditions Are Caused by Chronic Inflammation?
The list of medical issues caused by chronic inflammation is long. Among them are:
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Kidney disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
It’s also worth noting that most of the complications associated with COVID are the result of an over-reacting immune system.
How Can You Avoid Chronic Inflammation?
There are some steps you can take to minimize your risk for developing chronic inflammation:
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Control Stress
- Keep Your Hormones Balanced
Good food choices include vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as cold-water fish, flax seeds, and soybeans can also help to combat inflammation. Or you can take omega-3 fatty acids as a supplement.
Avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, rice, pasta, and other simple carbohydrates. Also avoid unhealthy fats like vegetable oil.
And you can minimize the environmental toxins you’re exposed to by eating organic whenever possible.
Cardiovascular exercise and resistance training can both help your body to combat chronic inflammation.
Yoga, meditation, and other stress control techniques can help your body to produce less cortisol, making it harder for chronic inflammation to take hold.
Replacing deficient hormones through bioidentical hormone replacement can reduce your risk for developing inflammation-related conditions.
At Renew Youth, we can help you to protect your body from the risks associated with chronic inflammation. We can also order lab tests that will reveal whether your body is currently coping with inflammation. Call us today at 800-859-7511 or use our convenient contact form to sign up for your free 30-minute consultation.