Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response.
When you think of inflammation, images of a swollen stubbed toe might come to mind. This is known as acute inflammation and is actually something that is good for your body. In this case, the immune system is doing its job, and the body’s natural defense system is running smoothly.
There is however, another type of inflammation that isn’t so good for the body at all. Known as chronic inflammation, this very undetectable condition is linked to a number of different health problems including cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Chronic inflammation is actually a signal that the immune system isn’t working properly. The body’s response to this comes in the form of a number of different ailments…and can take a heavy toll on someone’s health. Knowing what causes chronic inflammation, however, can help one take the steps to take control of one’s health.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
While scientists are still figuring out how inflammation works, they do know that it all begins with the immune system. When we become sick or get injured, the body sends out a fleet of white blood cells to take care of business. White blood cells help to speed along the healing process and get rid of infection. This is all a very natural and healthy process the body goes through when distressed.
However, when our immune system receives a false call, it will send out the army of white blood cells anyway. There isn’t anywhere for these cells to go, and they end up sticking around in the body for long periods of time…and eventually start doing internal damage, wreaking havoc on your health and resulting in chronic inflammation.
What causes chronic inflammation, though, and what’s making your white blood cells perpetually poised to attack something even when you aren’t sick or injured? There are a few different reasons as to what causes chronic inflammation, and knowing what they are can make a huge difference in the way you feel.
5 Causes of Chronic Inflammation
Your diet and the foods you eat can be linked to a number of different health problems, chronic inflammation included. There are certain foods that make the body think it’s under attack, and, when these are consumed over a long period of time, the immune system begins to send out white blood cells to take care of it. Foods that have a lot to do with what causes chronic inflammation include
- Refined Carbs (think white bread and pasta),
- Trans Fats (hydrogenated oil is a HUGE one),
- Excess Alcohol Consumption,
- Excess of Omega 6 Fatty Acids (corn, soybean and sunflower oils, butter, and margarine),
- Gluten, and
- Factory-Raised Animals and Dairy Products.
Chronic inflammation is most often associated with gut health. Candida is a fungus (a form of yeast) that lives in the intestines and helps out with digestion and your body’s natural ability to absorb nutrients. When the body produces too much candida, however, the walls of the intestine begin to break down and release nasty toxic byproducts into your bloodstream. The body perceives too much candida as a threat, resulting in inflammation.
Environmental Toxins and Free Radicals
There are a number of environmental toxins that cause the immune system to go haywire and result in unwarranted inflammation. From the polluted air many of us breathe to the various air fresheners, household cleaners, and plastics we all use on a daily basis, there are many different toxins and free radicals floating around that can quickly lead to inflammation. Being subjected to these toxins for a long period of time can cause the development of chronic inflammation.
Carrying excess weight on the body (in the form of fat) is extremely stressful and is the cause of a myriad of different health problems including chronic inflammation. The stress this extra weight causes ultimately leads to damage, and, in turn, the immune system wants to repair this damage. Fat cells themselves (particularly those in the abdomen) produce an excess of inflammatory chemicals. Being overweight is another direct cause of chronic inflammation.
Certain Nutrient Deficiencies
While all nutrient deficiencies will have some kind of negative impact on the body, there a couple that are responsible for what causes inflammation.
A vitamin D deficiency can not only result in chronic inflammation but can cause depression, decreased immunity, IBS, pain, and a number of different autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin B (especially B6 and B12)
If you’re not getting enough of your B vitamins, this can be a direct cause of inflammation. A deficiency in your B vitamins can also be a result of inflammation. Good health (mental and physical) is strongly connected to a balance of B vitamin intake.
Signs of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation isn’t something you can see and can go largely undetected…until it shows up in the form of various diseases. Knowing the signs of chronic inflammation before it’s too late can help you better understand your health and learn how to manage your symptoms.
- Abdominal Pain
While these signs can also be indications of other conditions, it’s important to take note of them when they appear. They could be signals of chronic inflammation and an immune system that is entirely out of whack.
Coping with Chronic Inflammation
Knowing what causes chronic inflammation can help you better manage symptoms when they appear. Diet is an extremely important factor in taking control of chronic inflammation. Replacing the foods you know are responsible for chronic inflammation with foods that help reduce inflammation is central to managing your symptoms.
Getting a wide variety of different colored fruits and veggies is excellent. They’re packed with the anti-inflammatory essentials your body needs. You’ll also want to up your intake of omega 3 fatty acids, which are widely known to be great for your nervous system and heart. Omega 3s (found in salmon and other fatty fish, flaxseeds, and hempseed oil) can play a significant role in reducing chronic inflammation because they reduce the number of white blood cells going haywire in the body.
Making time to exercise and getting your body moving is another way to significantly help you reduce inflammation in the body. Exercising 45 minutes a day at least 5 days a week will not only make you feel amazing but also help in reducing chronic inflammation. Remaining stagnant is one of the major causes of inflammation. When you exercise, you’re also burning fat, which helps reduce fat cells in the body and puts less stress on the immune system.
Beyond all that, taking the time to decompress every day can also be extremely beneficial when it comes to coping with chronic inflammation. Stress is thought to be a contributing factor to chronic inflammation and should be addressed. Make time to relax at the end of each day, and learn different ways to manage stress and anxiety. There are a number of different ways to improve your mental and emotional health, and doing so will help decrease the signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation.
Have you experienced chronic inflammation, or do you know someone who has? We’d love to hear about your experience and what you found helped you manage this condition. Please let us know in the comments below!