You’ve probably heard a lot about inflammation in the body. Did you also know that chronic inflammation leads to chronic disease? However, inflammation in the body isn’t always a bad thing. In this post, we’ll discuss the difference between chronic inflammation and healthy inflammation.
Think of healthy inflammation as a pilot light on a gas stove. It should be burning low and steady at all times so that at a moment’s notice, it can blaze into action. If you have an acute trigger such as stubbing your toe, burning your hand or being stung by an insect, your immune system’s “pilot light” can erupt into a bonfire–that is a healthy inflammatory response. Inflammation is the body’s attempt to heal itself. Inflammation consists of swelling, itching, redness and pain. Once the acute event has resolved, then the bonfire goes back down to the pilot light. This is healthy inflammation and is readily available in a balanced immune system.
When the bonfire is blazing continuously without an acute trigger, chronic inflammation is taking place. A basic approach to improving one’s health is to decrease chronic inflammation so that the immune system is available for more important tasks. This is one of the many reasons to embrace the anti-inflammatory diet, which eliminates inflammatory foods that act as triggers to the immune system.
In the body, we have both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory pathways. The anti-inflammatory pathways are healthy and can bring down the blazing bonfire when it is burning unnecessarily. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) like EPA and DHA feed the anti-inflammatory pathways and enhance the body’s ability to decrease inflammation in the body. EFAs are called “essential” because our body doesn’t manufacture them on their own and we need to consume them through our diet or supplements.
Making healthy choices and eating anti-inflammatory foods also strengthens the anti-inflammatory pathways, which will offset the inflammatory pathways and therefore decease inflammation. This increases the body’s ability to heal itself, which is fundamentally one of the most amazing capabilities of the body. The good news is that you have the ability to support this bodily process simply through healthy nutrition and basic Naturopathic support.
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo