4 Ways Inflammation May Affect Your Health
Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to fighting injury and infection. It is a temporary response that helps you heal, but sometimes it lingers and turns into chronic inflammation which can lead to serious health conditions.
Chronic inflammation is caused by many factors, including:
- An autoimmune disorder like arthritis
- Long-term stress
- Environmental toxins
- Dietary chemicals often used in food processing
- Refined, sugary, high-fat foods
- A virus or bacterial infection
Inflammation raises your risk of heart disease
Inflammation can occur anywhere in the body where tissue, cellular damage or injury has occurred. This includes your blood vessels. High blood pressure can damage the tissue lining of your arteries and this will signal an inflammatory response. As a result, inflammation will narrow your blood vessels further increasing the amount of pressure placed on your heart.1
Similarly, unhealthy foods and obesity can cause inflammation and lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, a diet high in fat and cholesterol is known to cause plaque and fatty deposits to develop along your artery walls, which can lead to atherosclerosis. These conditions will trigger an inflammatory response and if left untreated, can lead to blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
Other inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis have a strong link to heart disease.
Inflammation can affect joint health and mobility
When inflammation occurs in the joints, it causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time this can cause damage to the structure of your joints, including the bones, ligaments, and surrounding tissues. As the problem persists, physical activity and movement become more difficult, resulting in a loss of muscular strength. This places a greater strain on your joints as they have to work harder to support your body. To reduce your risk of inflammation of the joints make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D in your diet, maintain a healthy weight, and work on quitting smoking.2 Also, Turmeric provides one of nature’s best kept secrets, curcuminoids, a group of antioxidants that have strong, natural anti-inflammatory benefits.
Inflammation can compromise your gut health
Your gastrointestinal system houses a rich source of your body’s immune cells that live in harmony with the microbiota of your gut that keep you alive and well. In some people, however, this healthy balance goes awry, and your immune cells interpret the microbiota as intruders that must be destroyed. This causes chronic inflammation. If left untreated, the immune cells could attack the tissue lining of your digestive tract, resulting in autoimmune diseases like IBD or irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Inflammation can increase insulin resistance
Scientific evidence shows a link between obesity, insulin resistance, and inflammation. Blood tests from overweight and obese people showed both inflammatory cells and biochemical markers of inflammation. Chronic inflammation from being overweight is one of the major risk factors for conditions and diseases like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and atherosclerosis.3 Further evidence shows that obesity-related insulin resistance is, at least in part, a chronic inflammatory disease originating from fatty deposits and fat cells.4
However, insulin resistance makes it harder to lose weight and interferes with your hunger signaling, increasing your appetite and slowing your metabolism. It takes good medical advice and a sound approach to diet and nutrition to help turn things around.
Effective ways to support healthy inflammatory response
Inflammation is linked to many diseases and life-threatening conditions, but there are several ways you can reduce the effects of inflammation and promote a healthy inflammatory response.
Exercising regularly, eating less salt and sugar, eating more whole foods rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy potassium, and making sure you get enough sleep every night.
- The Lancet, March 31, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61931-4.
- Arthritis Foundation: Cause of inflammatory joint pain.
- Gastroenterology, May 2007; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2007.03.059.
- Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2003 Dec; DOI: 10.1172/JCI19451.
- Blog Contributor