When you experience chronic inflammation it is like the inside of your body is on fire. Unlike a sore throat or headache you don’t feel any pain from this condition. It is your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system. So in these cases it is a good response.
Chronic inflammation has a domino effect that can seriously undermine your health. Currently there is no definitive test for it — the best that conventional medicine can do is measure blood levels of C-reactive protein (a pro-inflammatory marker) and the irritating amino acid called homocysteine.
What is Inflammation?
WebMD defines it as a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. Prolonged, chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and just about every other chronic disease that can have severe, life-threatening consequences.
What Causes Inflammation? 3 Triggers to Watch Out For
1. Chronic Stress
Studies have shown that stress (the ongoing, unrelenting kind) compromises the body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response. This is because the hormone cortisol is involved in the regulation of inflammation, and you probably know it’s also referred to as the “stress hormone,” so when one’s out of whack, so is the other. Stress can also lead to weight gain, and guess what? The second cause of it is…
2. Excess weight
This is a bit of a “which came first?” scenario, since inflammation can also lead to weight gain. But carrying a lot of extra fat can be stressful on the body and potentially lead to more inflammation. Studies have suggested different possible mechanisms: overeating may stimulate an immune response that prompts inflammatory issues, for example, and excess fat tissue can secrete inflammatory compounds.
3. Breathing Bad Air
Hate smog? So does your immune system. According to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives, women who lived in areas with polluted air were more likely to develop diabetes, probably because air pollution can encourage inflammation and therefore contribute to insulin resistance. But much worse than living near a congested roadway is a naughty cigarette habit; tobacco smoke is such an assault on the lungs that the immune system rushes in to fix the damage. Often, though, it overcompensates and, rather than healing, the white blood cells end up on an offensive that can eventually lead to lung disease.
If you experience chronic inflammation you may want to start by cleaning up your diet to put out the fire. Eat more fruits and vegetables and make sure you include a dose of omega 3’s. Need one more reason to work out? Early studies show that exercise has powerful effects in reducing inflammation, which, in turn, can significantly lower your risk of other chronic health issues.