Chronic Inflammation: The Internal Fire

Chronic Inflammation: The Internal Fire

Chronic inflammation is increasingly being viewed as a key component of disease progression in conditions as varied as asthma, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes, depression and autoimmune disorders. Therefore resolution of chronic or silent inflammation lies at the heart of all attempts to treat and prevent many diseases.

If you have one of the many diseases associated with chronic inflammation it will be easier to determine how you wish to address it. But what about those of you who don’t have a diagnosed disease and are concerned about whether chronic inflammation may be draining energy from your body, weakening your immune system and eventually contributing to debilitating conditions. If your body’s terrain (your biochemical and physiological  environment) is unhealthy, it is similar to a stagnant river and you are more predisposed to inflammation. So would it be worthwhile to get tested with the recommended inflammation blood tests? If you answer “yes “ to more than three of the following questions you could benefit from a hsCPR (an improved highly sensitive C-reactive protein) and/or sedimentation rate blood test.

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • Do you have gum disease?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Are you always craving carbohydrates?
  • Are you constantly hungry?
  • Are you tired, especially after exercising?
  • Are your fingernails brittle?
  • Are you constipated?
  • Are you groggy upon waking?
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating?
  • Do you have headaches?

Unfortunately the hsCRP and sedimentation rate test detect inflammation from all sources, including medications or injuries so some elevated tests are misleading. But if you do have an elevated level(s) or three or more of the above considerations, it is worthwhile to investigate the triggers that have been associated with chronic inflammation.

Some of the triggers of chronic inflammation include repeated wear and tear on the body like the weekend-warrior athlete who frequently gets injured, nutritional deficiencies and an increased exposure to environmental toxins and/or the inability to detoxify them. Obesity and chronic stress with constant production of cortisol are inter-related triggers. Scientists now regard body fat as an endocrine organ that produces hormones controlling our immune system and how much fat we store. As your body attempts to adapt to chronic stress, one produces too much insulin, thereby creating more visceral fat. This fuels a new round of cortisol secretion and the end result is you get fatter and wind up with chronic inflammation. Hormonal imbalances are another trigger primarily for women during and after menopause. This could be a key reason why women suffer 75% of all auto-immune disease. It has been determined that estrogens have both anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory roles due to the enormous variability in individual bodies. Chronic exposure to environmental or dietary allergens as well as digestive imbalances are common triggers. Certain pharmaceutical drugs and high fructose corn sugar also contribute to chronic inflammation. Recent research has revealed that mitochondria dysfunction is related to inflammation. Since the mitochondria are the energy producing parts of our cells their dysfunction can contribute to many other aspects of degenerative disease.

In order to determine if these triggers are contributing to silent inflammation in your body, specific testing may be worthwhile to evaluate your nutrient levels, your toxic load, your body’s ability to detoxify or the status of your mitochondria. There are tests available now that helps women investigate how their body is processing estrogens if that is indicated. In addition to eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting exercise, losing weight and reducing stress one must attempt to counter the effects of triggers that are difficult to avoid such as environmental toxins or allergies. One of the best ways to do this is to begin changing ones terrain into a healthy river with the same care that many are directing toward our local rivers and streams. A healthy terrain can be exposed to more challenges and still function normally, so with the realization that we all are going to be exposed to numerous triggers consider your options for creating the healthiest terrain you can for yourself and your family members.