*The information provided in the following blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as a self-diagnosis tool, or as professional medical advice. You should always consult a medical professional before implementing changes in your routine, to best assure that certain treatments are right for your unique needs.
If you have spent any time on social media, you may have seen one of two things:
- a post about anti-inflammatory foods for weight loss.
- an exercise video that targets “general inflammation.”
While these may seem helpful to one’s health journey, it is essential to remember that “inflammation” is a buzzword. Its meaning has become incredibly vague, primarily when used in social media posts.
Why is inflammation a buzzword?
“Inflammation” is commonly incorrectly used along with terms like “bloated,” “swelling,” and “retaining water”; even though all of these reactions occur in different areas of the body, initiated by differing systems.
We imply a more significant, damaging chronic issue when using “inflamed” instead of “bloated.” Being bloated isn’t an indicator of chronic inflammation. Still, if it often occurs over a long time, your gastrointestinal system could be inflamed.
In these surface-level posts, “inflammation” is commonly used when talking about the gut and weight gain. But, in reality, inflammation can occur all over the body and displays its own particular set of uncomfortable symptoms that do not arise simply from bloating.
The term “inflammation” as a buzzword has led to people thinking of it as “bad.” In reality, inflammation can be critical for our survival – especially during an infection.
How is inflammation helpful?
Inflammation plays an essential role in healing and injury repair to keep your body safe and healthy.
Inflammation is not just one stagnant thing. Instead, it is a cascade of system reactions whose primary goal is to repair damaged tissues and start the release of white blood cells.
The immune system approaches infection two ways – initially, the immune cell receptors detect an infection and signal for the “inflammatory cascade.” This “cascade” then signals the initiation of the “Adaptive Immune Response,” which is composed of specialized cells, and proteins (like antibodies) that prevent pathogen growth, identify, and neutralize viruses and infections.
What is chronic inflammation?
Inflammation becomes chronic when it does not resolve itself and has the potential to cause damage to living, healthy tissue. Chronic inflammation generally progresses slowly and over a long time.
What causes chronic inflammation?
- Failure to end the cause of acute inflammation.*
- Exposure to a low level of a particular irritant that the body cannot break down itself.
- Autoimmune disorders.
- A defect with white blood cells, B & T cells, and antibodies that prevent pathogen growth identify and neutralizes viruses.
- Recurring episodes of acute inflammation.
What are the symptoms of chronic inflammation?
Suppose you are experiencing any combo of the below symptoms. In that case, it is always a good idea to check in with a medical professional to make sure that there is not a more significant problem with your healing systems.
- Body pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Depression, anxiety, mood disorders
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Weight gain, difficulty losing weight
- Frequent infections
What dictates the symptoms, & length of chronic inflammation?
- The original cause of inflammation.
- The area of the body that is inflamed.
- The ability of the body to repair itself – everyone’s healing process differs.
- The environment(s) the body resides within – such as diet, high-stress situations, space to move, and availability of medication.
*What is acute inflammation?
Acute inflammation is the immediate short-term response of living tissue to damaged tissue. For example, you most likely have experienced acute inflammation in cuts and abrasions.
Characterized by five typical signs: pain, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat, acute inflammation is significant because it restores the tissues to their pre-injury state.
You should monitor acute inflammation closely for signs of it becoming a chronic recurrence and determine if it was a severe irritant or infection that caused the inflammatory cascade. Usually, acute inflammation will heal and resolve itself but accelerated with diet and rest.
At what point does inflammation become harmful?
Inflammation is involved in at least 8 of the top 10 leading causes of death in the USA today. However, it is not always clear if inflammation is causing the disease or simply a byproduct of the condition.
There is evidence of inflammation in many conditions that we wouldn’t usually consider – such as in some psychiatric disorders.
This discovery of inflammation in many conditions seems “bad,” but it helps treat these diseases. In addition, treatments in one condition may be effective in other diseases. This means that there is a broader range of opportunities for disease intervention.
Inflammation is both an indicator and a resolver; it is sometimes at a high cost to the organism experiencing it. When inflammation is unchecked, it can destroy host tissue, expending vast amounts of energy and shutting down whole systems.
In cases involving autoimmune issues, inflammation can be triggered even without an infection. This is because the body continues sending inflammatory cells even when there is no outside danger, which can cause extreme damage to healthy tissue.
Unchecked chronic inflammation can cause the “bad” part of inflammation or the damaging effects of long-term chronic inflammation. Therefore, it is vital to take note of your symptoms and incorporate anti-inflammatory foods and actions into your lifestyle.
Should I be worried about inflammation?
Weight loss and health sites, blogs, and vloggers tend to spread misinformation about the everyday concern of inflammation. In reality, inflammation prevention and remediation do not have to be on your mind at all times.
Inflammation is not something to constantly fight, especially if you haven’t been diagnosed with chronic inflammation. However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t be aware of your symptoms and triggers, especially following an acute inflammation event. This can be as simple as recognizing gastrointestinal upset after eating dairy or having negative symptoms after smoking.
If you are experiencing many of the classic symptoms of chronic inflammation seen above, make sure to get it checked out by a medical professional before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle.
That being said, there are methods to set yourself up for a speedier recovery if you do encounter chronic inflammation in your life and to reduce your risk of ever experiencing chronic inflammation.
Ways to incorporate daily anti-inflammatory healing methods:
- Remove inflammation triggers, such as allergies and intolerances (it is best to see an allergist or dietician before making any considerable changes in your diet.)
- Increase fiber and micronutrient intake.
- Exercise regularly – if possible.
- Sleep longer, allowing ample time for winding down and awakening.
- Monitor your stress levels, anxiety levels, and overall mood. Get your cholesterol tested. Increased LDL cholesterol can lead to an inflammatory response in the arteries, causing problems down the road.
- Quit smoking. Smoking activates white blood cells, which leads to increased inflammation.
- Incorporate CBD into your lifestyle, through topical massage, edible tinctures, CBD gummies, or a luxurious, deeply relieving CBD bath.
Interested in learning more about the anti-inflammatory effects of Full-Spectrum CBD? Stay tuned! Our next post will look at the connections between the endocannabinoid system, immune system, and chronic inflammation, & how CBD can help you reduce both acute and chronic inflammation.