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“When the body fights off an infection, this triggers an immune response to tackle whatever it is that’s damaging our cells. But, if this lingers, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which leaves the body in a constant state of alert, causing a problem referred to as ‘inflammunity’. In the right doses and in the short term, inflammation is health-promoting – it initiates repair and triggers healing. But, as with any system, things can go wrong and friendly fire may be the result. If the offending ‘stressor’ isn’t removed from the body quickly and efficiently, the immune system can come to a halt, triggering inflammation and damaging body tissues. The problem is that inflammation isn’t always obvious – it’s not always a red, swollen knee or itchy rash – and studies have linked it to mental health struggles and even Alzheimer’s. Nearly every organ in the body has immune receptors – so nearly every part of the body is at risk of the negative impact of inflammunity.” – Lara Hughes, naturopath and nutritional therapist
What Are The Typical Signs Of Inflammation?
“Acute inflammation can cause redness, swelling and pain, while chronic inflammation can be less obvious, causing a broad array of symptoms, including gastrointestinal upset, food sensitivities and reactivity; chest pain and tightness; fatigue; feverishness; joint pain and stiffness, such as rheumatoid arthritis; skin rashes and sensitivities, such as dermatitis and psoriasis; brain fog, memory problems and decreased cognition; allergies such as hay fever, asthma and atopic skin conditions; and frequently coming down with bugs, viruses and infections.” – Lara
What’s Making Us So Inflamed In The First Place?
“Gut health plays a significant part in inflammation. If you eat a highly processed, refined diet that lacks fibre and is high in sugar, then chances are your gut bacteria are out of balance, which can damage the delicate gut lining, drive inflammation and compromise the immune system. Alcohol consumption also plays a part, as does obesity. Those with a higher BMI – particularly if you carry more fat around your stomach – have a higher baseline level of inflammation. In fact, research shows that fat cells promote system-wide inflammation. Those with sedentary lifestyles also tend to be more inflamed, while sleep deprivation also takes its toll. When we have a bad night’s sleep, this leads to spikes of cortisol, which increases inflammation and depresses immune function, and fosters cravings for simple carbs and high-sugar foods, all of which escalate the inflammatory cascade. And while it may sound counterintuitive, over exercising can also be damaging. If you participate in lots of endurance running – such as marathon training – or do HIIT every day without sufficient rest, this increases cortisol secretion for up to 48 hours, which promotes inflammation and suppresses the immune system.” – Lara