You’ve all heard this word. You may think or know that you have inflammation. But what does this really mean and what can you do about it? This is a big topic – so this is the first post in a series.
Are we all really going up in the flames of inflammation?
In a nutshell, yes. All of the chronic illnesses and all of the autoimmune diseases and all of the “itis” conditions involve inflammation. This includes things you may not think about such as:
- Belly fat pumps out inflammatory molecules
- Hashimoto’s or any self-antibodies
- Irritable bowel syndrome and colitis (gut inflammation)
- Chronic stress causes inflammation!
- Insulin resistance and prediabetes
- Overgrowth of the wrong gut bacteria, yeast, or even parasites (not just your gut, this goes systemic)
- PMS and painful periods
- Arthritis and tendinitis
- Osteoporosis is always a condition of inflammation!
- Seasonal and environmental allergies
- Infections in your “hollow space organs and cavities” – including vagina, bladder, gut, lungs, and sinus cavities.
Most of us in the United States have more inflammation than is desirable, and for many of us, it is chronic.
inflammation is good until it’s not
Inflammation is your body’s natural ability to mount an immune response to injuries, toxins, and invading pathogens. Your immune cells use signaling molecules called cytokines to do this. This is highly desirable!
The problem is when inflammation becomes chronic.
This can happen when inflammatory triggers are too much for your immune system to take care of. Your poor immune system gets overburdened, and you’re not able to clear the gunk: the immune cells, antibodies, cellular waste, and tissue debris that are created in the inflammatory process. Then you’re left with a constant production of cyctokines that signal even more inflammation. Your system gets stuck in a self-perpetuating loop. And, you can remain this way for years unless you intervene.
Why is chronic inflammation bad?
You can probably wrap your mind around the fact that chronic inflammation is undesirable. But here are some real things to consider and drill in:
Whenever there’s chronic inflammation in your body, it will affect your brain. Think dementia, anxiety, depression, loss of cognitive function, and brain fog. Yikes!
Chronic inflammation will degrade your tissues. Think osteoporosis, arthritis, plaque in your arteries, and good cells dying instead of just bad cells. Eek!
Chronic inflammation makes your lymphatic system sluggish, and you can feel full of phlegm and swelling. It reduces your vagal nerve activity, so your digestion slows down and you can have reflux, bloating, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and constipation. Ugh!
When you’re in a state of chronic inflammation, your chances of developing one or more autoimmune processes go way up. This is when your immune system attacks your own body. When these get triggered, you will always have autoimmune memory cells. In other words, the memory for an autoimmune attack never goes away. This is no joke!
It’s all about balance
Hopefully, you get that inflammation is all well and good when it’s at the right time and place, and in the right amount. But then you want your immune system to shift its pendulum back toward balance. This is a constantly changing process, as your immune system is always on guard and challenged throughout each and every day.
Ideally, it can be on guard without being hyper-vigilant (autoimmune) or stuck (chronically inflamed). It’s all about balance – a state of calm awareness. For many of us, this won’t happen without intervention if we already have chronic inflammation or autoimmunity, which are the primary ways the immune system gets out of balance.
Now that I have your attention about the dark sides of inflammation, please don’t despair! Read on to learn how to smartly move out of inflammation.