We’ve talked about inflammation before, but it’s such a hot topic that we need to dive even deeper into its depths. Let’s talk about chronic inflammation, what the difference is, and how you can combat it if it becomes an issue for you.
What is inflammation? How and why does it become chronic?
Inflammation refers to your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it, like infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. The inflammation is used as a signal to bring nutrients, blood flow, immune system cells, and more to the area where inflammation is so that it can begin the healing process.
Chronic inflammation is a term you’ve probably heard a lot, but do you know how it occurs?
Chronic inflammation can come from two different macroscopic root causes:
- Continuous sources of inflammation that are aren’t able to be handled (under constant sources of attack).
- Lack of resources to quench said inflammation (immune system that is down, not enough nutrients, lack of ability to detoxify from toxins, being re-injured, etc.)
RELATED: Why inflammation isn’t a terrible word.
What are signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation? How do you test for it?
Chronic inflammation can look like many different things—it all depends on where it’s stemming from. Chronic join inflammation will have more joint symptoms. Chronic gut inflammation will have digestive symptoms and possibly skin issues.
You can test generally for inflammation through blood inflammation markers, but if those come back positive, you’re going to want to dig a little deeper into the suspected area.
That’s where we come in. Because we tailor labwork, treatments, and long-term plans to each patient’s needs, we can determine the root cause as it relates to YOUR unique situation. Once we know more about where your inflammation is coming from, we can figure out the best way to address it for you.
RELATED: An integrative approach to healing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
What are some of the biggest contributors to chronic inflammation?
Typically, we check in on these chronic inflammation contributors first:
- Diet through blood sugar dysregulation, poor nutrient intake and caloric restriction.
- Stress. High stress can suppress the immune system and over time, the HPA Axis can become dysregulated causing low cortisol. Cortisol can be anti-inflammatory, so dysregulated cortisol can cause inflammation to go out of control. Stress can also impair glutathione production, which is your master antioxidant that can squash inflammation.
- Ongoing or recurring infections
- Seasonal allergies
- Pepetitive motion injuries
- Poor sleep
- Poor microbiome
- Genetics (MTHFR mutations, COMT mutations—these mutations mean a patient can’t process nutrients well or has impaired detoxification pathways)
- Hormone dysregulation
RELATED: 5 ways to get better sleep tonight.
What does an anti-inflammatory diet/lifestyle look like?
You’ve probably heard all over the place that an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and dietary choices are necessary to combat long-term chronic inflammation. Here’s what that actually looks like in practice.
- Minimizing toxins—from food, air, water, personal care/beauty products
- DETOX: sweating, pooping, lymphatic movement
- Choosing organic foods as you can; grass fed/grass finished meats as you can
- Prioritizing sleep and sleep hygiene
- Minimizing stressors, both internal and external stressors
Now, none of this should be scary! If you’re concerned about ongoing, chronic inflammation and how it’s impacting your health, you need a partner. We can help. Schedule an appointment with us to determine where your inflammation is coming from, and how to treat it from the root cause up.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.