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Chronic Inflammation and your Health

When the body senses an infection, irritant, toxin, allergen or other foreign particles, it calls on an army of cells and chemicals to fight off these unwanted invaders. This results in inflammation, which is a natural process with an essential role in healing. However, this army of defenders can sometimes get out of control, leading to an ongoing “state of alarm” within the body.

There are two primary forms of inflammation:

  • Acute inflammation: A rapid onset form of inflammation often attributed to infection or allergens.
  • Chronic inflammation: Long-term inflammation that may last months or years, often caused by an autoimmune response or chronic irritant like an allergen.

There are many factors that contribute to chronic inflammation in the body:

  • Stress
  • Exposure to environmental allergens
  • Physical activity
  • Hidden infections
  • Insulin resistance
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Obesity
  • Age

In some situations, poor dietary choices like eating high levels of saturated and trans fats or sugar may also lead to inflammation.

Health Effects of Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is at the core of every chronic disease. It is a fundamental physiological response that encourages healing and proper health. In high levels, inflammation will interfere with your mental and physical well-being.

Inflammation is closely associated with oxidative stress, and can contribute to many health problems and major degenerative diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Chronic inflammation is considered one of the leading causes of age-related illness.

Chronic inflammation is also associated with:

  • Dementia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • High blood pressure & stroke
  • Autoimmune disorders like Celiac and Crohn’s Disease
  • Neurodegenerative disorders like muscular sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease

Detecting Inflammation

Inflammation occurs at a cellular level, and so it may not always be evident. Many people who experience chronic inflammation develop a series of health problems that are seemingly unrelated, and may not realize that they are experiencing inflammation at all.

There are certain biological markers that can be used to detect inflammation:

  • High sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) test. This is one of the most common tests for inflammation. Elevated levels of CRP may be caused by insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, food sensitivity or allergy, or an autoimmune reaction to the protein gluten.
  • IgG food sensitivity tests. These test immune system agents called antibodies against foods that may be causing inflammation due to allergy symptoms.
  • Gluten intolerance/celiac disease tests. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barely, malt and rye. Among those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, exposure to gluten can lead to inflammatory diseases like autoimmune disorders, obesity, dementia and cancer.

These tests can help you uncover the reasons behind chronic inflammation. Once you identify the source of inflammation in your body, it becomes easier to prevent excessive inflammation with treatment and lifestyle changes.

Suggested Reading

Aging From Inflammation and free radicals

Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against infection, but an excess of inflammation can lead to more free radicals. An excessive amount of free radicals will cause more inflammation, leading to a vicious cycle and rapidly increased aging. [Read more]

Accelerated Aging

It starts slowly - an extra body ache here, a lapse in memory there. Then, you begin to wonder how you ever managed without that afternoon nap. We all feel the effects of aging, but it tends to affect some people more than others. This process is called accelerated aging, and as it settles in, years of vitality slip away from you. [Read more]