The simple answer is that it determines the quality of your long-term health.
Inflammation is part of the body’s defence mechanism. It is the way the immune system recognises and removes harmful substances or infections and begins the healing process. Inflammation can be either acute or chronic. You’ve probably experienced acute inflammation. It’s the redness, warmth, swelling, and pain you get when you’ve injured yourself. It comes on quickly and goes within hours, days or weeks.
In contrast, chronic inflammation is when the immune system continues to send white blood cells and chemical messengers over a prolonged period. When this happens, white blood cells may end up attacking nearby healthy tissues and organs. For example, if you are overweight around your middle and have more deep fat that surrounds your organs (visceral fat) – the immune system may see those fat cells as a threat and attack them. The longer you are overweight, the longer your body can remain in a state of inflammation.
As I said at the start, this is so important because research is showing, over and over that chronic inflammation is associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, dementia, autoimmune conditions, arthritis, bowel diseases, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and others. It’s all in the reference paper from Nature 2019, at the bottom of this post.
If you want to learn more about your immune system and how it works, I’m very happy to share Week 1 of my Resilient Health and Immune Programme with you. Start at slide 6, where I use a simple analogy to explain how your immune system works. As well as infection control and repair, you’ll learn that your immune system also influences your metabolism, ageing process and cancer surveillance. Importantly, you’ll see what factors make your immune system shift into a state of chronic inflammation and what you can do about it.
Please click on the link to watch the presentation:
I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think. And of course, if you want to take the full programme with me, please get in touch.
Furman, D., Campisi, J., Verdin, E., Carrera-Bastos, P., Targ, S., Franceschi, C., Ferrucci, L., Gilroy, D.W., Fasano, A., Miller, G.W. and Miller, A.H., 2019. Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span. Nature medicine, 25(12), pp.1822-1832.: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0675-0