The trouble with Inflammation

The trouble with Inflammation


Chronic inflammation can cause or aggravate many conditions. It may contribute to three quarters or more of noncommunicable diseases, including inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and gout. Left unaddressed, chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues and organs, and may cause internal scarring, tissue death and damage to the DNA in previously healthy cells. Ultimately, this can lead to the development of potentially disabling or life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer or Type-2 diabetes.


On the contrary, acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, infection and damaged tissues, and initiates the body’s own healing mechanisms. It raises the temperature of the body and affected areas, and triggers the body’s immune response to bacterial and viral infections. The immune response involves white blood cell and macrophages migrating to the affected area and the removal of damaged tissues and cells by phagocytes. This process is regarded as acute inflammation and would normally last for maybe a week or so depending on the extent of injury. It is the natural healing process.Without this inflammatory response, your body would be vulnerable to deadly infections.

However, if acute inflammation does not subside over a relatively short period, it may have become chronic. This process can become systemic and may affect various organs and tissues. Unfortunately, chronic inflammation, which has subtle signs and symptoms, may go undetected for decades and lead to the development of a many diseases.


What causes chronic inflammation

This will happen when the cause of the inflammation is still present and has not been destroyed or removed. Sometimes the immune response does not shut down once the tissues have healed. This is often caused by an unhealthy gut that has an imbalance of healthy v unhealthy organisms. Also, if the gut wall is damaged and undigested proteins and toxins leak through the gut wall, these can damage the body’s immune system and cause chronic inflammation.

Persistent bacterial or viral infections can cause chronic inflammation, and common allergic reactions to particular foods, pollens or toxins in the environment.

Poor diet such as heavily processed foods, over consumption of meat and dairy products and insufficient Omega 3 and 6 may also contribute to chronic inflammation.

Most importantly, lots of prescribed and over the counter medications are detrimental. Ironically, these include anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, that may be helpful in the short term but will exacerbate inflammation if overconsumed. Statins, while helpful in lowering cholesterol may also cause inflammation including aching muscles.

Excessive and prolonged stress, lack of exercise and lack of healthy sleep will also contribute to chronic inflammation.


How to overcome chronic inflammation

Many people experience chronic inflammation as a result of their diet. You need to reduce those foods that cause inflammation such as sugar, alcohol and processed foods.

You will be consuming too much sugar if you often eat puddings, cakes and drink fruit juices. Also, refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and white rice. Too much red meat and dairy products may also cause inflammation.  While all the aforesaid foods are likely to cause inflammation, every individual is unique and you need to be aware of foods that badly affect you, to which you may be intolerant. In my experience, you can usually identify these foods if they give you digestive problems such as irritable bowel symptoms, bloating or unusual levels of fatigue. Many of these allergies or intolerances can be traced back to dysbiosis in the digestive tract or what is known as leaky gut. Guidance on how to improve the health of your gut can be found in my article ‘Take care of your microbiome’.


There are many foods that are ant-inflammatory and have many other health benefits as well. Top of the list is Turmeric that has recently become very trendy. Don’t pay exorbitant money for capsules or turmeric drinks. Turmeric is best taken as part of your normal meals together with a small amount of black pepper. The pepper increases the absorption of the turmeric into your cells, so is quite important. It is easy to add a small amount to soup.


Ginger is another effective anti-inflammatory spice that can easily be added to your diet. Ginger may help reduce the production of inflammatory prostaglandins, hormones that cause pain in people with arthritis. Gingerol, shogaol, and zingerone, which are present in ginger, can help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with arthritis.


Berries, especially blueberries, are full of vitamins and antioxidants called flavonoids that fight inflammation. They also have chemicals that regulate your immune system, which can reduce chronic inflammation. You may be advised to find frozen organic berries to avoid herbicides, pesticides and chemicals used to preserve out-of-season or imported berries.


Slippery Elm Bark and Aloe Vera are useful for inflammation of the digestive tract and leaky gut.


There are many other anti-inflammatory plants and spices, and supplements such as L-Glutamine and Butyric Acid. Do your own research to identify foods and supplements that may help your specific ailments.


Lastly and importantly, take regular healthy exercise and find ways to improve your sleep. You can find advice on these two topics in further articles I will be publishing on this website.


Trevor Morris