How bad is inflammation?

It’s understandable if you think inflammation is very bad. News sources everywhere will tell you it contributes to the top causes of death worldwide. Heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer all have been linked to chronic inflammation. So, what can you do to reduce inflammation in your body?

Good question! Before we get to the answers, let’s look at what inflammation is — and isn’t.

Acute inflammation

Generally, acute inflammation is the body’s response to an injury, allergy, or infection, causing redness, warmth, pain, swelling, and limitation of function, to restore the health of the affected area.  It may last days to weeks, and then settles down once the cause, such as an injury or infection, is under control.

Chronic inflammation

It can develop for no medically apparent reason, last a lifetime, and cause harm rather than healing. This type of inflammation is quite different and often linked with chronic disease, such as excess weight, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and stroke, certain infections, such as hepatitis C, autoimmune disease, cancer, stress, whether psychological or physical.

Myths about Inflammation

1- Inflammation is the root cause of most ‘modern’ illness.

Although several chronic diseases are accompanied by inflammation, in many cases, controlling that inflammation is an important part of treatment. Yes, unchecked inflammation contributes to long-term health problems, but inflammation is not the direct cause of most chronic diseases.

2- You know when you’re inflamed.

People with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, know when their joints are inflamed because they experience more pain, swelling, and stiffness. But the type of inflammation seen in obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, causes no specific symptoms. Sure, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, and other symptoms are sometimes attributed to inflammation. But plenty of people have those symptoms without inflammation.

Foods that may help reduce inflammation

Switching from a typical Western diet to a Mediterranean diet may improve health in many ways including inflammation. Here are some simple tips:

  • Switch from whatever fats you use now to extra virgin olive oil.

  • Eat nuts and olives. Consume a handful of raw nuts every day

  • Begin or end each meal with a salad. Choose crisp, dark greens and whatever vegetables are in season.

  • Eat less meat.Choose lean poultry in moderate, 3- to 4-ounce portions. Save red meat for occasional consumption or use meat as a condiment
  • Eat less high-fat, high-sugar desserts and beverages

The bottom line

Inflammation is complicated.  But the truth is, acute inflammation is your body’s natural, usually helpful response to injury, infection, or other dangers, while it sometimes spins out of control.

There’s no quick or simple fix for unhealthy inflammation. To reduce it, we need to detect, prevent, and treat its underlying causes. Yet there is good news. Most often inflammation exists in your body for good reason and does what it’s supposed to do. And when it is causing trouble, you can take steps to improve the situation.