The funny thing with chronic inflammation is you might not feel anything developing until it becomes a full-blown, obvious disease. Chronic inflammation is a major contributor to a variety of major diseases we see today, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.


The reason chronic inflammation is not too obvious initially is because individual cells are damaged in the process. When healthy, properly-functioning cells become dysfunctional, it leads to inflammation.

The term “inflammation” is often generalized, and refers to an immune system reaction to a stimulus. Our immune systems tag foreign invaders as “non-self” bodies. The cells responsible for tagging these foreign bodies are the “scouts” of the immune system, known as macrophages and dendritic cells. They are responsible for identifying antigens (foreign bodies), and sending messages back to the rest of the immune system, informing them about what is going on. This promotes activity within the immune system allowing for a planned, organized attack.


When we are injured, say a cut for example, the local area becomes inflamed for a short period of time to prevent excess loss of blood. This then activates a cascade to form a clot to protect the area from the outside world and loss of more blood. Inflammation is useful as a reaction to an infection to either destroy the pathogen or flush it out. In acute situations, inflammation is a useful tool in response to invaders or wounds.


The immune system isn’t involved in acute situations exclusively. When chronically low levels of inflammation are present, it leads to a variety of issues. These can include diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, heart disease, hypertension, and more.


A state of chronic inflammation lessens our ability to function properly at the cellular level. This is precisely why chronic inflammation can affect so many different body systems and organs. Therefore, when it comes to alleviating any of these conditions, addressing inflammation is the pivotal first step.


Consume Healing, Anti-Inflammatory Foods

The best place to start is with what you are eating. Unfortunately, today we live in a world where there is no shortage of food options, but many of them happen to be questionable or even detrimental to our health. Instead, the goal to should be to consume minimally processed, organic foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. These basics give you these baseline of where to get started: https://youtu.be/D3KDJ20yBls


Unfortunately, with the widespread use of pesticides, genetically-modified (GMO) crops, and runoff, our food supply can contain a great deal of toxic compounds. While it is almost impossible to eliminate toxin exposure completely, there are definitely things you can do to limit your exposure and take some of the toxic burden off your body.


Food sensitivities play a key role as well. Please note that these are different from food allergies. Food allergies are obvious, outright negative reactions to certain foods, like peanuts or gluten, that can be life-threatening. Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are much subtler, but mediate inflammatory reaction in the gut and body. Regularly consuming these foods can harm the gut lining and trigger immune responses that can affect other areas. Food sensitivities are incredibly common in those who suffer from an autoimmune disorder, have leaky gut syndrome, IBS, or other inflammatory disorders.


Limit Toxic Exposure from Other Sources

Focusing on the list outlined above is a great place to start when it comes to food. It is really important to stress the focus on organic produce, pasture-raised meats, and healthy fats. These foods will be the most nutrient-dense and contain the most anti-inflammatory compounds. By contrast, for example, congenitally raised animal products are usually loaded with pro-inflammatory compounds like omega-6 fatty acids and can even contain pesticide and antibiotic residues.

Additionally, you could do yourself a great service by checking your water supply. Depending on where you are getting your water from, your drinking water might also contain toxic chemicals, chlorine, fluoride, radioactive substances, heavy metals (like lead), and/or a diverse cocktail of synthetic chemicals. Some city water supplies might even contain trace amounts of prescription medications!


The skin is the largest organ of the human body, yet many of us pay little attention to the things we come into contact with on a daily basis. We knowingly or unknowingly expose ourselves to a variety of toxins on a daily basis. Why is this a problem? For starters, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified over 5,000 different chemicals found in cosmetic products. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a database, known as Skin Deep. You can check the safety of over 78,000 products and their ingredient lists, which can be a valuable tool going forward. They constantly update their lists, so be sure to check back from time to time.


We are exposed to toxins from a variety of different sources, as you can see. Once toxins enter our bodies, there are generally two different routes they can go, and which route they take is dependent on our ability to process and eliminate them effectively or not. The more toxins we exposure ourselves to, the less likely we are to process them effectively. When toxins are not eliminated, they end up getting stored in body tissues. The primary destination for storage tends to be body fat.


Along with choosing the right foods and limiting toxic exposure, there are some other things to keep in throughout this process.


Drink Enough Water

The first thing to address is water intake. Consuming adequate amounts of water is crucial in aiding in the body’s ability to flush toxins out. Urine, after all, is one of the primary ways we get rid of waste products. Sources go as far as to recommend the amount of water needed per day is equal to half your body weight in fluid ounces. In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 fluid ounces of water daily. This is the goal you should be shooting for.


Move Around Often

Being physically active and getting regular exercise is important when addressing chronic inflammation. The lymphatic system, the body’s sewage system, actually requires movement (muscle contraction) to pump lymph through the body. Physical activity improves lymph flow, cardiovascular health, respiratory health, and allows us to expel more toxins via sweat. Moving often also releases endorphins- or chemicals in the brain- responsible for a happier mood, and promotes creation of new blood vessels in the brain (especially the part responsible for memory and coordination).


Address Emotional Stress

While it might not be (and usually is not) the first thing addressed when we talk about oxidative stress and inflammation, emotional and mental stress can have a massive impact. You can find out more information on how you can improve sleep habits and stress levels here: https://insideouthealthwellness.com/pillar-3-addressing-sleep-deprivation-how-to-sleep-better/ .


Targeted Supplementation

If you incorporate the lifestyle strategies outlined above, you can effectively lighten the toxic load o the body, and keep it away over time. Sometimes, support is needed, and certain supplements can be incredibly effective in enhancing the process.

For more information on what options might be best for you, check out this video:


Sources:


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Blum C et al. “Low-Grade Inflammation and Estimates of Insulin Resistance During the Menstrual Cycle in Lean and Overweight Women.” Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2005. 90(6):3230-35.


Carvalho BM, Saad MJ. “Influence of Gut Microbiota on Subclinical Inflammation and Insulin Resistance.” Mediators Inflamm. 2013. 2013: 986734.


Fasano, A. (2012). Leaky gut and autoimmune diseases. Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology, 42(1), 71–78. PMID: 22109896
Jin C Flavell RA. “Innate Sensors of Pathogen and Stress: Linking Inflammation to Obesity.” J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013. 132(2):287–294.


Teodorczyk-Injeyan, J. A., Injeyan, H. S., & Ruegg, R. (2006). Spinal manipulative therapy reduces inflammatory cytokines but not substance P production in normal subjects. In Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (Vol. 29, pp. 14–21). PMID: 16396725 Ross MR. “Chronic Inflammation: Rocking the Medical World.” Health Matters Monthly Supplemental Report, fall issue. 2004.


Semba RD, Houston DK, Ferrucci L, et al. “Low Serum Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations Are Associated with Greater All-Cause Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Women.” Nutrition Research. 2009. 29(8):525-535.


Slavich, G. M., & Irwin, M. R. (2014). From stress to inflammation and major depressive disorder: A social signal transduction theory of depression. Psychological Bulletin, 140(3), 774–815.


Disclaimer

Though based in research, personal, and clinical experience, the opinions in this article should not be taken as medical advice. The information is designed for educational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.Botanical medicine and nutraceuticals should be treated with the same caution and care as pharmaceuticals, as both have the potential for strong, potentially adverse effects and allergic reactions. Please consult a trained, licensed health care practitioner before proceeding.