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Inflammation: Good vs Bad

Updated: Jun 24

Inflammation is a defense mechanism that occurs when the body's immune system responds to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, toxic compounds, or irradiation. It's a normal process that helps the body heal by removing harmful stimuli and initiating the healing process. Inflammation can be acute or chronic.

Acute inflammation is a sudden, temporary, and protective response by the immune system to an injury or illness.

There are five symptoms that may be signs of an acute inflammation:

  • Redness.

  • Heat.

  • Swelling.

  • Pain.

  • Loss of function.

An example of acute inflammation would be a broken arm, a bug bite, or a fever.

Chronic inflammation is a long-term condition where the body continues to send inflammatory cells and chemicals even when there's no danger. This can cause tissue injury and can last for months or years. The extent and effects of chronic inflammation can vary depending on the cause of the injury and the body's ability to repair itself. 

Chronic inflammation has been linked to a variety of different health conditions like:

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

There are many factors that can contribute to chronic inflammation. Some factors we have control over, and others we do not. These include:

  • Dietary choices

  • Smoking and tobacco use

  • Exercise habits

  • Sleep quantity and quality

  • Alcohol use

  • Persistent viral or bacterial infections

  • Allergens and environmental pollutants in our air, water, and food

  • Stress

You can make choices that lower chronic inflammation, rather than fueling it. Your diet as a whole has a large effect on the level of chronic inflammation in the body.

Tips to help reduce inflammation.

  1. Eat plenty of fruits & vegetables. Include as many colors as you can. Each has different benefits.

  2. Choose more high-fiber carbohydrates. Limit or avoid processed foods.

  3. Eat more fiber. Fiber is essential for gut health and overall health.

  4. Choose plant based and/or lean animal protein. Plant protein sources include soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk), beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Lean animal protein sources are fish, chicken, turkey, and egg whites.

  5. Be aware of fats. Cook with unsaturated fats like olive oil. Avoid trans-fats and limit your intake of saturated fats.

  6. Reduce sugar intake.

  7. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol disrupts the gut microbiome and can contribute to chronic inflammation.

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