We often think of inflammation as “bad”, but that’s not always true. Inflammation for a short period of time following an injury or exposure to a toxin/pathogen is our body’s healthy response!
Acute Inflammation = Healthy
Inflammation is the result of our immune system (often thought of as our body’s army) gathering in an area of our body that requires an army to heal damaged tissue and/or defend against a toxin/pathogen. When a part of your body is inflamed, you will likely notice swelling, redness, heat, pain, a stuffy nose, a cough, etc. It may be uncomfortable while your immune system is at work, but having that inflammation is a good sign that your body is mounting an appropriate response to restore your body to health. As your body heals and your immune system eliminates the toxin/pathogen, the inflammation should go away completely as your immune system awaits its next task to keep you healthy.
Chronic Inflammation = Unhealthy
It’s when chronic inflammation takes hold of our body that we start to see the negative impact of inflammation. Chronic inflammation results from the high levels of environmental toxins we are exposed to, eating poorly, living sedentary lives, being under constant stress, etc. Chronic inflammation has consequences in our body. Under states of chronic inflammation, our organs are unable to function appropriately, and our tissues undergo destruction. This results in a plethora of diseases that are now becoming common in America, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, constipation, cramping during menses, autoimmune conditions, and the list goes on and on.
Normally when a body is exposed to an acute threat, like a pathogen, the body detects the threat and creates signals to bring our immune system to the right area to defend our body. But when we are already in a chronically inflammatory state, that acute signal is lost amongst all the other signals a chronically inflamed body is consistently giving off to our immune system. So our immune system can’t appropriately defend our body against that pathogen because it can’t hear the acute signal over the roar of all the other signals. This is why someone who is experiencing chronic inflammation can easily get sick and be sick for long periods of time because their immune system army is so overburdened and overworked throughout an entire chronically inflamed body.
Supporting our Immune System
So what do you do with this information? First of all, thank your body for creating ACUTE inflammation because this tells you your immune system is at work defending you and healing you. Second of all, do what you can to avoid becoming in a chronically inflamed state. This means treating your body right, eating nourishing foods, drinking water, moving your body every day, engaging in deep breathing exercises, and finding ways to healthfully cope with stressors. And if you are already in a state of chronic inflammation and need more support, I am always here as a naturopathic doctor to help you decrease chronic inflammation in your body and increase your immune system functionality.