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Inflammation – Friend or Foe

What is Inflammation in Humans?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, aiming to protect and heal the body. It involves the activation of the immune system, which sends immune cells, nutrients, and other molecules to the affected area to eliminate the cause of harm, clear out dead cells, and initiate tissue repair. The main signs of acute inflammation are redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function.

Inflammation is your body’s defense system kicking into high gear. Think of it as your body sending an army of white blood cells to battle and heal the affected area. Acute inflammation (like a cut or cold) usually lasts a few days and then the body returns to as it was with no discomfort.

How Does Inflammation Become Chronic?

Normally, inflammation resolves itself once the threat is gone. Chronic inflammation occurs when this immune response continues longer than necessary, it goes into overdrive potentially lasting for months or years. And it can damage healthy tissues over time.1 2 This prolonged state can result from:

  • Persistent Infections: Some pathogens can evade the immune system, leading to ongoing infections.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues.
  • Exposure to Irritants: Long-term exposure to irritants such as pollution or industrial chemicals.
  • Unresolved Acute Inflammation: When the acute phase fails to resolve, the inflammation can become chronic.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Poor diet, lack of exercise, and chronic stress can contribute to ongoing inflammation.

Why Does Inflammation Occur Generally?

Inflammation is a protective mechanism aimed at removing harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens. Its primary purposes are, to isolate the injured area, remove the injurious agents and repair the damaged tissue. The causes of Chronic inflammation are:

Inflammation – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

How can we prevent Chronic Inflammation?

While you can’t completely prevent chronic inflammation, there are ways to reduce your risk. Here are some tips:

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity helps regulate the immune system.
  • Healthy Diet: Consuming a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods e.g. fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help. Conversely, processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats should be avoided. Sometimes supplements can also help.
  • Stress Management: Practicing mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress.
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensuring sufficient and quality sleep.
  • Avoiding Smoking and Excessive Alcohol: Both can contribute to inflammation.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a significant risk factor for chronic inflammation.
  • Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration supports overall health.

Conclusion

By making these lifestyle and dietary adjustments, individuals can reduce the risk and impact of chronic inflammation, leading to improved overall health and well-being. Always consult your doctor or healthcare professional before making any of the above changes.

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