Inflammation is a buzzword these days in health circles as we discover that more and more diseases and conditions have links to this occurrence when a normal natural process becomes chronically present in your body. Let’s take a closer look at what can contribute to chronic inflammation and ways you can combat or prevent it in order to live your healthiest life.

What is it?

Inflammation in itself is not harmful and is in fact a healthy attempt by the body to preserve and heal itself by removing harmful debris and or pathogens. In addition to the damaged cells and tissues being cleared from an injured site, the increased blood flow that occurs with the initial phase of inflammation also brings healthy white blood cells, proteins and other components to continue the healing process. This phase should only last for a few days – anything longer is considered chronic and puts into play a cycle that can have dire consequences.

Signs and symptoms

Most people don’t find out they have chronic inflammation until diagnosed with a disease associated with it. The recognised list is growing but currently includes chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, cancer and autoimmune diseases. However, you don’t have to wait to be diagnosed with a threatening condition before doing something about it – your body might already be giving you signs that the initially helpful inflammation process has gone unchecked into chronic within your body.

Do you have:

– allergies, congestion or asthma?

– high blood pressure?

– fatigue and lethargy?

– skin problems?

– irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion?

– joint pain or stiffness?

– frequent infections?

– shortness of breath?

– weight gain?

What causes it?

There are a few reasons as to why inflammation can become chronic and these are related to how well your immune system is functioning. Imbalances can result in the immune system not being able to properly eliminate the cause of the acute inflammation or an autoimmune response where healthy tissue is mistaken for unhealthy pathogens and our body attacks itself.

Well-known nutrition and wellness expert, Dr Libby says the first thing to do when trying to combat the negative effects of an overactive inflammatory process is to find out what’s driving it. Chances are it could be related to your gut given that 80% of our immune system actually lines your gut. If the permeability of your gut lining changes, as is the case with a poor diet or when your body is in a more stressed state, then toxins and bacteria and undigested food have an invitation to pass through the intestinal wall into your blood stream causing your immune system to go into overdrive. As the immune system becomes overused, the only response the body has is to create more inflammation to help with the flight.

What to do?

According to Dr Libby great ways to prevent or manage chronic and systemic inflammation include consuming anti-inflammatory substances and managing your stress levels. A high plant diet with lots of vegetables and added omega-3 fats, herbs and spices such as turmeric have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Bone broths consisting of animal bones, vegetables, mushrooms and seaweed are great for helping to heal the irritated gut lining because they contain glycine, gelatin and other minerals, also allowing the microvilli of the intestine to stop unwanted particles from entering the blood stream. Supplements like Vitamin D and Magnesium may also provide relief from chronic inflammation.

When we are stressed the body produces more adrenaline which then leads to more cortisol production, a hormone our body releases from the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a natural anti-inflammatory however the glands responsible for making it can become fatigued when called into action 24/7. Managing your stress levels to decrease your adrenaline production has a massive effect on your inflammatory response.

The role of chiropractic care

From a biomechanical perspective, local inflammation can arise from joints that are functioning incorrectly thus affecting your nervous system function, which just so happens to be closely linked to our immune system. Better moving joints reduce local inflammation but studies have also shown chiropractic adjustments to diminish several inflammatory proteins helping reduce inflammation all over the body.

From a holistic approach, like the one we adopt at Chiropractic Balance, having your spine and nervous system working more in balance as a result of your adjustments, and following the specific lifestyle recommendations we give allows you to adapt and better manage the stresses you encounter in your life.