Inflammation, though uncomfortable, may not mean quite what you think!

Inflammation can be a tricky subject. Despite what you’ve always been told, not all inflammation is actually bad. Inflammation is part of our body’s immune system. It is a normal physiological response to injury and infection. However, when this response goes on for too long, it can become harmful.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation

Acute inflammation is a healthy response that promotes healing. This is “good” inflammation. Signs typically include pain, heat, redness, and swelling. Although you feel uncomfortable, these symptoms are actually signs of your blood cells rushing to the area to fight off whatever bacteria or infection may be coming in. Since acute inflammation is actually an immune response to an irritant within the body, it can be caused by anything that may cause irritation, like injury, infection, allergies, or toxins.

Chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation is an unhealthy over-response that lasts longer than normal. It comes in two forms. The first is an acute inflammation that does not dissipate. If you’ve suffered from an extended period of inflammation, it may be time to contact your doctor to check for a more serious injury or to aid your body in fighting off the infection.

The second form of chronic inflammation can be asymptomatic. You may actually experience chronic inflammation for years without realizing it. This occurs when a low level of irritation exists in your body…enough to trigger inflammatory responses without showing symptoms.

Chronic inflammation has been implicated in many degenerative health issues, including autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and atherosclerosis. Many times, the inflammation will not be noticed until there’s a loss of function or until symptoms of a disease develop. Chronic inflammation can be caused by many things, including a poor diet, large amounts of alcohol, smoking, excessive exercise, or other lifestyle choices.

How to fight chronic inflammation:

  •  Lose a little weight. This study found a strong correlation between waist circumference, BMI, and chronic inflammation.
  • Eat a Mediterranean-style diet. You don’t have to be too strict about it—just focus on the main aspects. Try to consume fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish. This nutrient-rich diet is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, an antioxidant used to help fight inflammation in the body.
  • Avoid foods that you have allergies or intolerances to. This study found that intestinal inflammation can lead to systemic chromosome damage, which leads to cancer in areas of the body outside the intestines.
  • Get active. This study found that active individuals had less inflammation, indicated by elevated C-reactive proteins, fibrinogen levels, and white blood cell counts.
  • Reduce stress levels.
  • Get adequate sleep.

Acute inflammation is hard to miss, since it has very obvious (and usually painful) symptoms. Just remember that it’s actually your body hard at work protecting you! Chronic inflammation can be sneaky and silent, so don’t let it get the best of you. Fight it daily through good lifestyle choices and a resolve to get a little healthier every day!

iFit Trainer

Emily Wiley