Inflammation and Chronic Disease

by Steven Carney on November 6, 2012

This is a new post on inflammation, based on a shorter overview I wrote last May. You’ve probably heard of inflammation. It’s a normal part of the healing process. When you cut yourself or scrape yourself badly, you probably have some bleeding. Your blood clots to stop the bleeding and your immune system kicks in, sending immune cells to the area, resulting in redness and swelling. After several days, a scab forms (to protect the wound), which eventually comes off after the cut is healed.

That’s a simplified example of inflammation. It’s similar with an infection, although the process often happens more internally. Your immune cells attack bacterial or viral invaders and help to remove them.

There’s another, more sinister form of inflammation, called low-grade, systemic, or chronic inflammation. Research is showing that this form of inflammation is connected to most, if not all of the chronic health conditions we adults face in the U.S. That inflammation is often driven by a mixture of pro-inflammatory foods, excess weight, inactivity, stress, lack of sleep, etc. It’s a form of inflammation that keeps burning, like a smoldering fire that never goes out.

Common conditions

Here are some common conditions/diseases that are connected to, or driven by inflammation:

  • Heart disease (including high BP, atherosclerosis, etc.)
  • Stroke
  • Obesity/metabolic syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Cancers
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s
  • Digestive problems/IBS
  • Allergies/Asthma
  • Thyroid (Hashimoto’s and Grave’s)
  • Prostate problems
  • Autoimmune problems (MS and others)
  • Rashes/skin problems
  • Depression

Chronic inflammation can occur without acute or obvious symptoms. You might feel a bit blah or have some discomfort but still be able to function. Maybe you will have some bloating after a meal or some annoying joint pain that seems to show up often (remember, inflammation causes tissues to swell and that swelling will often impinge on nerves, resulting in pain signals).

Chronic inflammation can smolder on for years, slowly eroding your health and invading other healthy tissues (remember, your blood circulates through your body quickly, moving several liters every minute)! For example, inflammation from belly fat doesn’t stay there, it spreads to other areas!

By the time you have more acute symptoms, you might be diagnosed with heart disease, a TIA, arthritis, diabetes, or cancer. Did you know that your immune system is taking out mutated cells (cancer cells) all the time? It’s another reason to try to keep your immune system functioning at optimum levels.

What to do?

  • Start with better nutrition! Cut your sugars, processed, fried and junk food intake.
  • Eat less red and cured/processed meats with salt, nitrates or nitrites.
  • Increase your whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, nuts and veggies.
  • Trim the extra fat at your waistline because it releases immune cells that fuel inflammation.
  • Get your vitamin D tested (25-hydroxy vitamin D) and take fish oil, both help with inflammation.
  • Be more active 4-5 days a week, including brisk walking, dancing or other fun activity.
  • Get a hs CRP test (high sensitivity C-reactive Protein), a test that measures systemic inflammation (this is especially important after age 30).

Notice that none of these approaches come from a deficiency of drugs! It’s a myth that  prescription drugs for lifestyle conditions cure you! Most only treat symptoms, not the underlying cause, that’s why you have to take them day in and day out. (see previous posts on nutrition, drugs, and videos under Links/Articles page). Drugs should be the last resort for lifestyle conditions, not the first one!

Consider working with a qualified Nutrition/health/lifestyle coach, one who can provide the guidance and help you need to improve your nutrition and activity. Even small improvements can help to improve your blood sugar levels, energy, mood, and health! I look at the whole you, to see all the elements that might contribute to excess weight or health problems you might have. I’ll help you create a brighter future so you can have a long, health life!

Feel free to ask a question about this or other posts (many more if you scroll down or use categories at the right. You can also follow me on twitter, FB, by using social icons in upper right.

Helpful links:

An incredible new video shown on the Discovery Channel about how we fight a cold virus and infections (the full video is much longer and will hopefully be posted):

I found this study on supplements and inflammation on 12/11/12 so I decided to add it:

I ran into this article on 12/15/12 so I decided to add it:

I saw this study on kids and asthma/eczema and decided to add:

I saw this research/article on 3/24/13 on foods that help to lower inflammation, ones I also recommend:

A new study (4/2013) that again shows how lifestyle factors and inflammation contribute to cancer and chronic disease: 

An insightful human study which again shows how inflammatory chemicals are associated with chronic disease:

A new research study from 9/30/13 that again shows the close integration of gut bacteria, immune function and health, including mood:

I ran across this insightful article in October, 2013:

As I’ve had various questions arise about asthma, here is a more specific link about lifestyle: 

© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now


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