6 Signs You Have Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is a popular and commonly used word when it comes to nutrition. We often hear about anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory diets, but the truth is most people don’t know what inflammation actually is and how it affects our health. Although many people know that acute inflammation is not good (like breaking your leg or cutting your finger), many people don’t realize that it is the chronic, ongoing, day-to-day inflammation in the body that is actually the larger issue. So let’s take a look at inflammation, what it is, and some of the most common signs you have chronic inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal immune response in your body. The body has an incredible and complex immune system whose main purpose is to protect you. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to foreign invaders, which can be cells, viruses, fungi, bacteria, chemicals, toxins, etc… However, there are two different types of inflammation; acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is obvious. When you scrape your knee it will become inflamed, swollen and red in an effort to heal and protect itself. Acute inflammation is a brief inflammatory response by the immune system lasting a few days or only long enough to respond to the injury of illness.
Chronic inflammation, however, is a completely different story. Chronic inflammation occurs when your immune system gets set permanently to “on”, and remains a constant low-level physiological response. Think of chronic inflammation as a small campfire that you set to help keep you warm that ends up burning 1,000 acres of trees, it’s simply too much. Chronic inflammation becomes problematic because the body struggles to turn off the inflammatory response and it can start damaging healthy tissues as well.
Recent research suggests that chronic inflammation is associated with many modern diseases including diabetes, obesity and heart disease. As our systems become overtaxed through diet, environmental factors, lifestyle factors and stress, it simply becomes too much for our body to bear.
6 Signs You Have Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can reveal itself in many different ways depending on the individual, however, here are 6 commonly overlooked signs of chronic inflammation.
1. Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis
The health of our skin is a representation of the health of our body. Many people with internal inflammation suffer from eczema, acne breakouts, and dry skin, among other issues. Although most people will work to treat it topically with creams and ointments, addressing diet and gut health in order to reduce inflammation can help to improve common skin issues.
2. Chronic Fatigue
Fatigue can be both a cause and sign of chronic inflammation. Too little sleep can cause the body to respond with an inflammatory response, while fatigue can also be a side effect of chronic inflammation. Inflamed cells are sick cells, and they can’t produce the energy you need to feel energized.
3. Excess Belly Fat
There are several lines of evidence that inflammation directly causes obesity and diabetes. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars, vegetable oils, lack of exercise and chronic stress are all triggers for inflammation in your cells and tissues.
4. Headaches or Migraines
For people who suffer from chronic headaches or migraines, systemic inflammation is often at the root. Given the intricate connection between our gut and our brain, issues that present in the brain are commonly linked to inflammation in the gut from inflammatory foods, food intolerances or leaky gut.
5. Joint Pain
If you suffer from chronic ongoing back pain or knee pain, you are likely suffering from chronic deep-rooted inflammation.
6. Bloating and Gas
Although digestive issues like bloating and gas are common, they are in fact not normal. Frequent bloating, gas or digestive issues are signs of inflammation in the gut. It is easy to think of gas and bloating as no big deal, but these are in way of your body telling you that something in the digestive tract is not working optimally, or a food you are eating is causing inflammation.
What to do About Chronic Inflammation
Although the solution for many chronic inflammation issues is to simply take a pill it is not addressing the root cause of inflammation in the first place. Addressing diet and digestion are two of the simplest ways to begin to address chronic inflammation. By focusing on a diet of whole foods (i.e. – 1 ingredient items) such as vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and whole grains, and eliminating processed foods, you can begin to address chronic inflammation. If you continue to a follow a diet of whole foods and still see signs of inflammation the next step would be to address gut health and identify potential foods that may be causing chronic inflammation.