What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is one of our body’s most powerful tools, and plays a key role in healing any injury to our body. As our body’s first line of defense, it is a miraculous system that keeps us healthy and alive.
When we cut our finger, our immune system kicks in. It immediately responds to biochemical distress signals from damaged tissues, and sends specialized cells and proteins to the injured site. The redness, swelling, and heat you feel is your body’s natural healing response at work—sealing off the injured area, destroying damaged tissue, and killing invading bacteria.
However, like any complex organism or machine, our immune system can break down and malfunction if it is overworked or undernourished (or both, as is often the case). When this happens, it can go haywire on us—attacking healthy cells and tissue instead of the microbial invaders associated with disease.
An example of a harmful inflammatory response is when your immune system attacks your joints due to a perceived threat caused by a food source, such as wheat, sugar, or chemicals.
A chaotic immune system, left untreated, invariably leads to chronic pain and, eventually, disability. The staggeringly destructive side of inflammation is a significant factor behind the escalating healthcare costs in the U.S.
Because it often goes undiagnosed, estimates vary on how many people in the U.S. have immune-related health conditions, from just over 23 million to 50 million.
Whatever the number, it’s high — and growing higher every year.
One report stated that back in 1996, 1 in 31 people had inflammation. Today, those numbers are now 1 in 5.
The sharp increase can be partly attributed to the growing awareness of the inflammation-illness connection, and better diagnostic tools.
Over 200 illnesses and diseases have been cited as being related to inflammation including: rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Heart disease
The end result of any of these conditions is a lifetime of medical care, prescription drugs (each with its own long list of bad side effects), disability, rapid aging, and early death.
Common Inflammation Symptoms
How do you know if you suffer from inflammation? The first step is learning to recognize the common symptoms of chronic inflammation, which include:
- Continual fatigue
- Recurring brain fog
- Energy slumps in the afternoon
- Chronic pain in your joints, muscles, or limbs
- Constant feelings of being “too” something—hot, cold, restless, irritable, etc.
- Persistent digestive issues such as heartburn, constipation, gas, or diarrhea
- Dryness in your nasal passages, mouth, vagina, or other areas
- Irritated or itchy skin, dryness, rashes, or scaling
- Frequent headaches
- Difficulty losing weight no matter how little you eat or how much you exercise