Why Chronic Inflammation is Important to Understand for All Ages
Ouch! You stub your toe on your bedpost for the hundredth time. Almost instantly, the redness, pain, swelling and heat wash over your toe. These four symptoms are the classic and predictable signs of acute inflammation, and they serve a very important purpose. When you stub your toe, cut your finger, or overwork yourself at the gym, the body responds with acute inflammation. This type of inflammation is a healthy, normal part of the healing process; it is how the body heals itself and it is essential to maintain your health.
Harmful Inflammation is Chronic Inflammation
But there is another type of inflammation that does not go away after the pain subsides. Chronic inflammatory diseases can take years to finally show its symptoms as, in many cases, it starts to impact your body at a microscopic level and it isn’t an isolated problem. Chronic inflammation goes hand in hand with other issues like oxidative damage, making it hard to forecast.
There are a few things that can cause inflammation to flare up –
- Toxins in the environment
- Prescription drugs and antibiotics
- Chronic stress
- Lack of sleep
- Your diet, including heavily-processed, sugary foods
Silent But Deadly
Signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation can sometimes be obvious (like with fatigue and pain). Other times, it can take symptoms years before they manifest.
Make an appointment with your primary doctor for a physical exam and speak with him/her about your risk of obesity and high blood pressure, especially if you are noticing dark circles around the eyes, skin rashes and increased waist circumference, according to Vincent M. Pedre, M.D.
“Your blood work can also provide your doctor with insight into hidden inflammation. Be sure to test for C-reactive protein (CRP), which are able to predict issues with your heart. CRP is a protein your liver makes. When levels are elevated, your body is harboring inflammation.”
How to Fight Inflammation
One of the most common culprits of chronic inflammation is actually what you eat. But this is good news! You have the powder to change your diet immediately and start fueling your body with what it needs to get back on track.
When searching for healthy food options, be sure to watch out for “friendly” labels! Foods including vegetable oils, grain-fed meats, hydrogenated fats, trans fat, gluten, diet, sugar, genetically-modified crops, processed foods may look healthy and appealing, but are actually inflammatory foods.
An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids – wild-caught dish, walnuts, avocado, and flax seeds. “These foods limit inflammation, while supporting a healthy gut. Other great sources include extra-virgin coconut and olive oils, grass-fed beef, and sprouted nuts and seeds,” reports Dr. Pedre.