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What Is Inflammation? Here's What It Does and How to Address It

Are your joints achy and swollen for no obvious reason? Perhaps you're feeling tired and sluggish? These are all potential signs of chronic inflammation.

If left unaddressed, this condition may also cause lower back pain, insulin resistance, and other issues. In the long run, it may contribute to lifelong diseases, like arthritis and diabetes.

Not all inflammation is bad, though. Injuries, for example, trigger an inflammatory response that helps prevent infection and supports tissue repair.

But what is inflammation in the first place? Most importantly, what can you do about it? Let’s find out!

What Is Inflammation?

Imagine taking a walk and stepping on something sharp accidentally. Your foot turns red and begins to swell. That's acute inflammation, which occurs in response to injury.

Inflammation is an integral component of your body's self-defence mechanism. It stimulates the production of white blood cells and other substances that promote healing and prevent infection.

This process helps initiate tissue repair. While it's true that it causes pain, swelling, and other unpleasant symptoms, these issues are temporary.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can last for months or even years. Without proper treatment, it may damage your joints, arteries, organs, and other tissues.

Clinical evidence suggests that chronic inflammation drives tumour growth. More than half of all deaths are due to inflammation-related disorders.

When inflammation persists for a long time, it causes the immune system to produce white blood cells around the clock. These cells may begin to attack healthy tissues, leading to joint pain, inflammatory bowel disorders, diabetes, and more.

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

The exact cause of chronic inflammation is unknown. This condition may occur even if there is no injury. In general, it's due to a combination of lifestyle and environmental factors, but genetics play a role too.

Sometimes, chronic inflammation is a symptom of diabetes, psoriasis, and other autoimmune disorders. But it may also occur in response to an infection or medical condition, such as bronchitis and sinusitis.

Another common cause is psychological stress. Depression, trauma, and prolonged stress affect immune and endocrine function. This may lead to sustained low-grade inflammation.

Your diet and lifestyle habits matter too. Sugar consumption, for example, triggers inflammation and promotes visceral fat gain.

Belly fat, or visceral fat, is a metabolically active tissue that releases pro-inflammatory cytokines. Over time, it may cause insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.

Deli meat, potato chips, fries, and other foods rich in trans fats are just as harmful as sugar.

Clinical research indicates a strong link between trans fats and systemic inflammation. Scientists believe that trans fatty acids may affect endothelial function, causing the body to release inflammatory cytokines.

Fight Inflammation Naturally

As you see, chronic inflammation is due to a multitude of factors. The best way to address it depends on the cause. For the start, consider cleaning up your diet and adding anti-inflammatory supplements to the mix.

Curcumin, ginger, and other natural compounds may help prevent and reduce inflammation. Plus, they have none of the side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

While it's true that NSAIDs may provide temporary relief, they're not safe in the long run. Their side effects range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Digestive distress
  • Fluid retention
  • Headaches
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Oesophageal ulcers
  • Cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes

Dietary supplements are safer and can be used for an extended time. Unlike most medications, they work with your body, not against it.

A good example is curcumin, the active substance in turmeric. This compound fights inflammation and oxidation stress, leading to better overall health. Piperine, an active component of black pepper, can increase your body's ability to absorb curcumin by a whopping 2,000%.

Curcumin supplements may reduce mild inflammation and strengthen your natural defences. At the same time, they may help prevent low-level chronic inflammation and boost liver health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are just as beneficial. These heart-healthy fats occur naturally in fish oil, salmon, tuna, nuts, seeds, and unrefined oils. Due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, they support cardiovascular function and joint health.

Fish oil, one of the best sources of omega-3s, keeps your brain sharp and your joints flexible. In the long run, it may slow down cognitive impairment, relieve mild joint pain, and improve blood lipids.

Switch to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

As discussed earlier, some foods can trigger or worsen inflammation. Sugary and fried foods, refined vegetable oils, and high-fructose corn syrup are just a few to mention. The same goes for excess alcohol.

An anti-inflammatory diet is one that consists of fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Berries, for example, contain anthocyanins. These antioxidants decrease inflammation and protect against chronic diseases.

Tuna, sardines, salmon, anchovies, and mackerel are chock-full of omega-3s. Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies contain the antioxidant sulforaphane, which has strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Another good choice is avocado. This fruit boasts antioxidants and monounsaturated fats that suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines.

In one study, subjects who consumed meat experienced an increase in triglycerides and IL-6, an inflammatory marker. These changes did not occur when the meat was consumed along with avocado.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t eat pizza or ice cream ever again. You can still enjoy an occasional treat every now and then as long as you don’t make a habit out of it.

Don't Let Inflammation Ruin Your Health

Now that you know more about inflammation, take the steps to improve your health. Ditch the sugar, cut back on junk food, and fill up on anti-inflammatory foods. Reduce your energy intake to lose belly fat and lower your risk of chronic disorders.

If you're still wondering "What is inflammation?" browse the rest of our blog! We'll show you how to keep your immune system strong and what to eat to fight inflammation. 

So, are you ready to make the switch to an anti-inflammatory diet? Start by visiting our online shop for curcumin supplements, omega-3 formulas, probiotics, and more! 

This article does not represent a product description, nor a summary of therapeutic indications of any of Medlab’s products. If you are interested in a Medlab product, please read the product label or the product information published in the product section shop.medlab.co prior to purchase. If you are unsure whether a product is right for you, please talk to a healthcare professional.

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