Why is inflammation so damaging to the body?
Inflammation is our body’s response to stress. Everyday we are exposed to some sort of stress. How we deal with it is really important. Unless we have a way to get rid of the stress, it will store and present itself later as a symptom in the body. This could range from depression, headaches, digestive problems or any other type of malfunction or discomfort.
“When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. “In a healthy situation, inflammation serves as a good friend to our body,” says Mansour Mohamadzadeh, PhD, director of the Center for Inflammation and Mucosal Immunology at the University of Florida.” “But if immune cells start to overreact, that inflammation can be totally directed against us.” This type of harmful, chronic inflammation can have a number of causes, including a virus or bacteria, an autoimmune disorder, sugary and fatty foods, or the way you handle stress. Here are a few ways it can affect your health, both short-term and long.”
Here are some of the affects of inflammation:
- Infection fighter:
Inflammation is most visible happens when you experience a sprain or strain. Inflammation is an automatic response to an injury or illness. This is the body’s way of trying to heal the area. when it’s helping to repair a wound or fight off an illness: The area swells up, becomes warmer. This is a sign that the immune system is doing what it is supposed to do when injured. The immune system starts to send white blood cells and nutrition to the area necessary for healing. This should only be a temporary thing and this response should go away once the injury or infection is gone.
2. Emotionally stressful situations:
If you are under large amounts of emotional stress, your sympathetic nervous system “fight or flight” will kick in. This response increases your adrenaline levels which may be necessary for extra energy in case you need to run or protect yourself. This is a good thing but chronic stress for long periods of time can cause C-reactive proteins in the body to be elevated for long periods which will lead to many health conditions like heart disease, headaches, multiple myeloma, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, obesity, costochondritis, heart attack, osteomyelitis and many more.
3. It causes autoimmune and digestive issues:
There are many immune cells around the intestines. There is also healthy bacteria in the gut that helps keep your intestines strong and healthy. With chronic inflammation, the immune system starts to treat this bacteria as a toxin or invader and begins to react to the bacteria and start fighting it.
This reaction now becomes an autoimmune condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis etc. These conditions can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and various types of ulcers. In many cases areas of the intestine are removed and patients are put on long term prescription medications which then begin to put a stress on the organs to filter out of the system.
4. Heart Issues:
Again, when the body is injured inflammation occurs. This inflammation affects every part of the body including the blood vessels. Plaque can accumulate in the arteries leading to chronic inflammation. Now this attracts white blood cells which start to grow larger with time and can cause blood clots and heart attacks.
Bad eating habits will stress the body and cause an inflammatory response. It is also harder to keep off weight if the organs and body are inflamed.
6. Increased cancer risk:
Chronic inflammation has been shown to increase the risk of lung, esophagus, cervical and digestive cancers and may be involved in other cancers as well. In a 2014 Harvard University study, it found that obese teenagers with high levels of inflammation had a 63% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer during adulthood compared to their thinner peers.
When the immune system starts to produce inflammation, regulation then becomes interrupted and cancer cells can begin to grow.
7. Sleep and Fatigue:
In a 2009 study from Case Western Reserve University, people who reported sleeping more or less than average had higher levels of inflammation-related proteins in their blood than those who said they slept about 7.6 hours a night.
8. Lung issues:
If the lungs are irritated and inflamed, fluid will accumulate which will narrow airways making it harder to breathe. Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis are all affects of long term inflammation issues of the lungs.
9. Your gums can be damaged:
Peridontitis is commonly associated with chronic inflammation. Bacteria will accumulate and cause edema in the gums. Gums will begin to recede and the tissue around the teeth will weaken or become damaged. Brushing your teeth and using floss can help prevent this but if joined with keeping inflammation down will really keep your gums healthy. Also, a 2010 Harvard University study found that eating anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish or fish oil) may also help.
Just a note that Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect oral health. Studies have shown that chronic inflammation in the mouth can lead to heart disease and dementia as well.
10. Losing weight is harder:
Chronic inflammation can influence the body’s ability to produce the hunger signals properly and slow down metabolism. Without the proper hunger signals, it will make you eat more and burn less calories leading to weight gain or keep your weight the same even though you are working out.
11. Bone damage:
According to a 2009 review study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, chronic inflammation can interfere with normal bone growth.
As stated above inflammation affects the digestive system and can disrupt bone growth because it prevents absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D necessary for growth and strength. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease and can also lead to weakening of bones because physical exercise is limited because of pain while performing weight bearing exercises.
12. Skin issues:
Psoriasis, acne and other skin issues can be related to increased inflammation.
13. Depression and anxiety:
Inflammation in the brain may be linked to depression, according to a 2015 study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Mood swings, not eating, insomnia or loss of sleep are all linked to depression. Research has shown that people with depression have shown increased levels of inflammation in their blood.
So, knowing all of this there is no wonder why there are green smoothies and other anti-inflammatory products out there. With inflammation comes stress on the body. The less stress you have the better your body will function and remain healthy.