You've heard of anti-inflammatory medications and anti-inflammatory diets, but do you really know what inflammation is? In short, it's the body's response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals. When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues.
Inflammation is, by definition, a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection. Think chronic pain, injuries, and general bloating. All of these things can be caused and worsened by inflammation, especially when you don’t do anything to treat it. Inflammation is also caused by stress, so long office hours and hectic home lives can really take a toll on your body both physically and mentally.
Here are 5 ways inflammation could be messing with your body:
1. It Can Harm Your Gut
Many of the body's immune cells cluster around the intestines, says Denning. Most of the time, those immune cells ignore the trillions of healthy bacteria that live in the gut. But for some people, that tolerance seems to be broken and their immune cells begin to react to the bacteria, creating chronic inflammation.
The immune cells can attack the digestive tract itself, an autoimmune condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, ulcers, and may even require surgical removal of the intestines. Doctors aren't exactly sure why some people get IBD, but genetics, environment, antibiotics, diet, and stress management all seem to play a role.
2. It Can Cause Sensitive Teeth
Sure, you've heard that poor oral hygiene can lead to inflammation elsewhere in the body. However, the opposite is true, too. One recent study found that your dentist can play an important role in detecting undiagnosed conditions including diabetes, which has been linked to inflammation. If not managed properly, uncontrolled blood-sugar levels related to diabetes can translate into tender gums, tooth infections which may not always be painful and bone loss around teeth. Type 2 diabetes is one we often catch in the mouth first. Often, patients are not even aware this is going on. That is why it is so important to see your dentist every six months (or more often, if advised).
3. It May Hinder Weight Loss Goals
While the idea of weight loss is often quite straightforward i.e. eat nutritious food, move more often, and watch your portions, there’s more at play in some bodies. Let’s take inflammation, for example, and uncover just how it can prevent you from losing weight and even packing on the pounds. The general idea behind this is that fat cells expand causing a state of chronic inflammation as an individual gains weight. Therefore, they’re activating the immune system in ways the body isn’t accustomed to at a healthy size. If you’re trying to lose weight, your fat cells are oftentimes already inflamed which means the body is starting out in a stressed state. By losing the weight, we eliminate this problem.
4. It Can Sabotage Your Sleep
According to studies, 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. The research established a correlation between the two and not a cause-and-effect, so the study authors say they can't be sure whether inflammation triggers long and short sleep duration or whether sleep duration triggers inflammation. It's also possible that a different underlying issue, like chronic stress or disease, causes both. Shift work has also been found to increase inflammation in the body.
5. It Can Cause Or Worsen Mood Disorders
Feeling like you’re in a funk? Whether or not you have a history of anxiety or depression, these disorders can come on at any time in life. This is especially true if your body is already under the stress of an autoimmune disease. This study shows that higher levels of inflammation are thought to accompany depression symptoms including fatigue, reduced appetite, withdrawal, and inhibited motivation.
While those suffering from mood disorders should work with a treatment team to figure out what works for them in terms of medication and therapy, reducing inflammation can be an easy-to-do and natural therapeutic intervention, especially regarding simple diet and lifestyle changes.
Inflammation poses a big harm to the body when not treated. It is recommended to check a doctor in the first sins of inflammation. This is to avoid further harm to the body and the health. In this post, I shared with you the 5 ways inflammation could be messing with your body.
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