My first blog is on inflammation because this is what I run into the most as a Pilates and Health Coach. These conditions include (however, not limited to) joint and muscle pain, gut issues and sleep problems. I wish that Pilates and movement could cure everything, however, what we put into our mouths and our lifestyle factors has just as much to do with reactions our body produces and the pain and immobility we have. Here is the beginning explanation of inflammation and what we can do about it.
Inflammation is our body’s normal and healthy response to injury or attack on the immune system. It’s our body’s way to fight against any potential harm, such as injuries, infections and toxins. When your body senses damage to its cells, it releases chemicals to trigger a response from your immune system for your protection. The main goal of inflammation is to protect you from harmful invaders and promote fast healing and recovery.
Inflammation on the surface of the body is commonly described as Acute, and is usually characterized by pain, heat, redness, swelling and possibly loss of function. For example, if you cut your finger while making dinner, you will probably experience swelling, redness and pain. If a mosquito bites you, it will result in redness, swelling and itching. During allergy season, you may experience sneezing and/or redness in your eyes. If you catch a cold, you may have a red, sore throat with swelling, runny nose, and other related symptoms of inflammation. (1)
Chronic, low-level inflammation is at the cellular level – known as the “silent killer” – and develops without pain and can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Inflammation itself is not a bad thing, without it, wounds would not heal (become septic) and even minor infections could result in tissue damage and become deadly. In some cases, acute inflammation may be internal, and isn’t always an infection caused by harmful substances (such as bacteria, virus or fungus), It can be caused by twisting an ankle, or scaping a knee, which will likely turn red, swell up and hurt due to inflammation (without any infection).
Acute inflammation is short-term, which may last for a few hours, a few days, or in some serious injuries, a few weeks.
On the other hand, not all inflammation is good, particularly when inflammation becomes chronic. This can lead to further health problems including chronic pain and disease.
Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is long-term. With chronic inflammation, the inflammatory response is on-going leaving your body in a constant state of alert trying to defend you from potential harm.
Chronic inflammation is caused by excessive stress on your body, including physical, emotional and chemical stressors. As a result of these constant stressors, your body ends up trying to constantly defend itself, thus overwhelming your immune system. This chronic inflammatory stimulus results in increased inflammation, more white blood cells, cell changes and eventually tissue and organ damage.
While acute inflammation is necessary and beneficial for your health, chronic inflammation can have a harmful impact on your health. In addition, chronic inflammation can play a role in a variety of health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, asthma, alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. Chronic inflammation results in 7 out of 10 leading causes of death. (2,3)
Chronic inflammation can last for several months or years, and can continue until the cause of the inflammation is addressed. The underlying cause of the inflammation needs to be eliminated in order to stop it and prevent further damage to your body.
Causes of Chronic inflammation:
Chronic inflammation is a sign of an overtaxed body, and is caused by excessive stress on the body often due to a combination of reasons, including physical, emotional and chemical stress. When the body is under sustained stress due to an inflammatory diet, chronic emotional stress, the burden of chemical toxins and poor sleep, it feels constantly under attack. It cannot differentiate a poor diet or an ongoing emotional battle due to being over stressed. All it wants to do is to protect you which results in a constant emotional response and chronic inflammation.
In my subsequent blogs, I will cover the most common factors that cause chronic inflammation, and what you can do about them: Diet and eating inflammatory foods, blood sugar imbalances, leaky gut syndrome, chronic stress, arthritis, poor sleep habits, environmental factors, chronic illness, attitudes and beliefs, emotional trauma and relationships, and genetic factors.
1.What is an inflammation? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/
2. Scrivo, R, Vasile, M, Bartosiewicz, I, Valesini, G. Inflammation as “common soil” of the multifactorial diseases. Autoimmune Rev. PMID:21195808
3. Hsiang-Ching, K, Hoyert, D, Xu, J, Murphy, S. National vital statistics reports