Inflammation – What Does It Mean and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

A Story of Inflammation

Inflammation is a hot topic today. But, for everyone, the word doesn’t necessarily create a picture in your mind of what it means. I understand it can be overwhelming and maybe a bit irritating with the magnitude of information available today – on nutrition, health, fitness – all things wellness. How do you know what it all means? Where do you turn for sound information? My goal is to be that resource for you – to help you make sense of it all.

Today, I want to help simplify this idea of inflammation.

Let me first tell a story of a real person living with painful inflammation and the resolution that occurred with a change in eating. Jason is a client that came to me because he had been living with episodes of severe pain for years. He was sick and tired of the aches and pains. He had a history of high blood pressure, had experienced over the years debilitating incidences of gout as well as a rheumatic disorder that was treated with years of prescription steroids. All that he was experiencing were processes of inflammation (more on that to come).

Jason was willing to make gradual changes to his diet – eliminating pop, replacing his usual high sugar breakfast with a meal richer in protein, and increasing his fruit and vegetable intake. Shortly thereafter, a stressful work time of the year that historically resulted in a significant relapse of gout ended with significantly less pain than he had experienced the prior year. By shifting his diet away from foods creating inflammation to those that helped to reduce it – he reduced his symptoms as well!

In Jason’s story he didn’t even make huge changes to his diet. He started small, because that was what worked for him. He did great and he got results. Even small changes can cause a significant improvement in symptoms! And when you continue on a path to reduce inflammation – eliminating foods irritating to your body, adding foods that are powerhouses of nutrients, healing years of damage to the gut from the Standard American Diet or medication usage – the results can continue to get better and better.

What would those results look like?

Reduced risk of heart disease.
Improved gut health reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, chronic digestive upset.
Reduced risk of autoimmune disease.
Weight loss.
Improvement in a multitude of inflammatory conditions – diagnosis you may have received – that end in “itis.”

What is inflammation?

Let me try to make this simple. There are 2 different types of inflammation – acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s normal response when something harmful affects any area in your body. Acute inflammation will cause symptoms you I am sure, have experienced including heat, redness, swelling, pain or loss of function. It’s how your body protects itself – eliminates the cause of injury and starts the process of repairing damage.

The human body is remarkable! Each and every day you are put in harm’s way and your body’s immune system protects you from getting sick. It is generally very good at it’s job – keeping things in check to keep you healthy.

Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. Sometimes, this acute process to keep you well may go awry and may lead to a chronic response. This could happen for a number of reasons – it didn’t do a good job at removing what it should have, it makes a mistake and starts recognizing your own healthy tissue as something harmful (an autoimmune response), or perhaps there is an irritant that persists for a long period of time.

Think of it like this – acute inflammation is like a storm that hit your neighborhood. Some damage occurred, there is clean up to be done, things will get resolved and you will move on. Chronic inflammation is like that storm hitting your neighborhood 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days/year. There is never an opportunity to clean up and move on.

Acute inflammation can make you sick, but you will recover. Chronic inflammation, however, has been implicated in almost all disease states today including autoimmune diseases, obesity, allergies, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes, in addition to aging!

What are the symptoms?

If you or someone you love experiences any of these, you may be living with chronic inflammation.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
Struggle to achieve a healthy weight.
Ongoing muscle and joint aches and pains.
Extreme fatigue.
Regular constipation, diarrhea or both.
Brain fog – making it more difficult to solve problems or complete simple tasks.
Asthma or allergies.