Chronic Inflammation = the Root of Several Diseases
Acute versus Chronic Inflammation
Acute inflammation is a normal, physiological response to injury or illness. For example, if you are hiking and you roll your ankle on a root, you will notice your ankle immediately swell, become red, and hot to the touch. Its amazing that this acute inflammatory process takes place right before your eyes. It does last long and it actually helps protect and heal your body.
Chronic inflammation is much different. It is this low level of inflammation throughout your body that ultimately damages your tissues and organs. Chronic inflammation can cause anxiety, depression, poor focus, brain fog, insulin resistance (or diabetes), joint pain (or arthritis), irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune diseases, PCOS, migraines, fatigue, fibromyalgia, heart disease, and even some cancers.
What’s Causing Chronic Inflammation?
Lets say you are suffering from some of the symptoms and diseases listed above, you may have chronic inflammation. It is time to explore what may be triggering this inflammation and how to help calm the fire today. Here are a few of the things that I have seen trigger chronic inflammation the most:
- Food intolerances: the biggest contributors I see in practice seem to be gluten, dairy, sugar, and soy. There are several different kinds of food testing you can do to determine whether you are allergic or sensitive to foods. Food allergies are conducted by IGE blood test or skin prick tests. These are true food allergies that depending on the severity cause hives, itchiness, and your throat to swell. Food intolerances include test such as the ALCAT (white blood cell reaction) or IGG Food Sensitivity testing. These can cause fatigue, brain fog, and chronic low grade inflammation.
- Stress: This is a big one. When your body is under physical or emotional stress it produces a hormone called cortisol. This stress hormone triggers the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Therefore, chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation.
- Environment: This category includes a number of environmental causes including (but not limited to), chronic exposure to toxic cleaning products, plastics, chemical-rich beauty products, mold exposure, air pollution in large urban cities, industrial work, etc.
- Nutritional Imbalances: A diet missing key nutrients can cause poor detoxication, toxic build up, and inflammation. Nutritional deficiencies that over time can lead to inflammation include low glutathione, b vitamins, and omega 3 rich fatty acids.
How do I Calm the Fire?
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may want a functional or integrative medicine practitioner to help examine the root cause for your chronic inflammation. However, here are 5 things you can start doing today to reduce chronic inflammation and calm the fire:
- Eat Whole Foods: Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Do not over complicate nutrition, just start eating whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats. If you are looking at an ingredient list and you have no idea what something is chances are your body has no idea what it is either. This will trigger an inflammatory response over time.
- Stay Hydrated: A simple way to calculate how much your body needs in water per day is to cut your weight in half and turn it into ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs you need about 75 oz of water per day. Of course, if you are exercising or sweating profusely you will need more water. Staying well hydrated helps your body flush unwanted toxins.
- Focus on Gut Health: It is estimated that about 60-70% of your immune system is initiated in the gut. Therefore, keeping your gut healthy is essential. Take a good probiotic and incorporate fermented foods in your diet to help keep your gut bacteria diverse and healthy.
- Add Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Add 1-2 tbsp of organic pure tart cherry juice to your daily routine. Cook with ginger, turmeric, and garlic, all of which have shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Consider trying Dr. Taz’s Golden Milk Tea to help reduce inflammation. I love having a delicious cup of hot golden milk tea before bed.
- Supplement: When diet and lifestyle is not enough add supplements. Here are 3 of my favorite:
I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully working with you soon!
Kristin Oja, DNP, FNP-C, PT-C