It seems funny (though not always) the way the human body fights the causes of pain with more pain: inflammation, and you may be experiencing a response to either of the two types of inflammation that are part of our innate immunity as beings. Humans: acute or chronic inflammation and they are a natural response to pain that we all have from birth.

If we feel or see inflammation in our own bodies, our immediate response is usually negative. It means that some kind of pain is coming or is already there.

As a result, we begin to get stressed and many people resort to remedying any form of inflammation with a variety of medications. But by doing this, we are not allowing our body’s natural response to occur, well, naturally.

This is likely due to the possibility that you don’t know why acute or chronic inflammation occurs and why one of them is necessary. Let’s break it down here.

What Causes Inflammation?: The Process

Inflammation can be painful, but is it really a bad thing? If you had the option to opt out of receiving your body’s natural immune response to defend against the foreign invaders that we encounter every day, would you do it? We hope not because, without that protection, you would not last a day.

When your body detects pain from foreign substances, for example bacteria and viruses, your body releases chemicals from white blood cells (which act as signals or messengers) into the blood or specific tissues to protect itself.

This seems to be a fairly simple process. But if your body releases these “cellular signals” without a real external invader, this constant process can damage your tissues or organs.

Signs of inflammation

The list is not extensive, but it includes many common symptoms such as:

  • Redness.
  • Joint swelling (sometimes hot), pain, or stiffness.
  • Loss of joint function.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Muscular stiffness.
  • Fever or chills..
  • Headaches.
  • Little or no appetite.

The 2 types of inflammation

Acute inflammation

The acute inflammation occurs within minutes or hours and quickly becomes severe. Any signs or symptoms you may have tend to last between a few days and a few weeks. Some examples of acute inflammation are:

  • Scratches or cuts on the skin.
  • Ingrown toenails.
  • Acute tonsillitis.
  • Intense exercises.
  • Sore throat after a cold or flu.
  • Acute sinusitis.

Chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation occurs long-term and tends to last for several months and, in the most severe case, years. This type of inflammation can occur due to an acute problem that was not treated, a chronic low-intensity irritant that does not go away, or your immune system attacks healthy tissue, mistaking it as a harmful pathogen.

Here are some examples of chronic inflammation:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Asthma.
  • Chronic sinusitis.
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Chronic active hepatitis.

The type of inflammation we need

It’s a bit of a trick question because depending on any condition, having both would be ideal. But of the two types, acute inflammation is necessary because it protects us from those daily invaders. Cuts and scrapes, seasonal illnesses, personal hygiene problems.

Chronic inflammation has its benefits, although it is not always ideal. When inflammation targets internal organs, things can get dangerous.

Because many organs do not have pain-sensitive nerves, your pain (if any) may not be as obvious.

Ultimately, this type of inflammation (which is the root cause of chronic pain) can lead to irritation and destruction of cartilage or tissues, as well as lead to more inflammation in the same or a new part of the body.

So the next time you cut or catch a cold, don’t be so quick to (synthetically) medicate your acute inflammation. Our bodies are amazing and they heal themselves and in many cases they just need time.

Now, while chronic inflammation means well, what it can become is the true silent killer.

This is the type of inflammation that we must be more diligent and aware of because no one knows your body like yourself. But instead of trying to find hypothetical inflammatory cases to deal with, let’s look at a couple of popular habits that cause chronic inflammation in your body.

2 main causes of chronic inflammation

If you are naturally stressful and enjoy fast food, the following paragraphs will be hard to swallow. But with the right guidance and lifestyle changes, you can reduce inflammation and live a fuller life with less pain.

Stress causes inflammation: the “stress hormone”

Think about your daily routine. Do you have (or do you give yourself) time to breathe, or do you feel like life is a constant rush?

Whether obvious or not, research has shown that stress greatly influences inflammation. In 2012, study revealed that the link between stress and the body’s inflammatory response is what affects health and disease.

Specifically, psychological stress negatively affects cortisol, a hormone in our body that helps regulate inflammation.

You may know cortisol as the “stress hormone,” which your body releases from almost every cell in those fight-or-flight moments.

According to the team’s lead researcher, when the stress hormone fails to serve its purpose and reduce inflammation, inflammation can spiral out of control.

He went on to explain that chronic (or long-term) stress decreases the sensitivity of our tissues to cortisol. In other words, the immune cells that are present during inflammation do not respond to the regulatory effect of cortisol.

Over time, the effectiveness of cortisol in reducing swelling decreases, which can lead to uncontrolled inflammation and promote the development of other diseases, as mentioned above and which are first and foremost autoimmune diseases.

As you can see, the stress hormone plays a key role in your inflammatory response, but it can affect other things as well. Cortisol increases glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Your brain then takes that level of sugar from your blood and uses it to help repair tissues.

However, if you live a life full of stress, science says that your stress hormone will not work as it should to keep your body functioning in a healthy and proper way.

Foods that cause inflammation: junk food

In the journal, a study revealed that diet can affect both mood and pro-inflammatory responses to stress. Not all diets, of course, but those that include regularly processed junk food.

In diets like these, foods that cause inflammation can include high amounts of refined starches, sugar, saturated fat, and Tran’s fat, and low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, natural antioxidants, and fiber from grains, vegetables, and fruits.

In a review of one study, for example, researchers observed a link between eating Tran’s fatty acids and increasing inflammation. They confirmed that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables contributed to reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.

Additional research even suggests that you can limit and perhaps reverse pro-inflammatory responses to foods high in saturated fat with enough vegetables or antioxidants.

On the other hand, grains and seeds are also usually the cause of inflammation in most cases, even if they are not refined. There are already many studies that link gluten as a cause of chronic inflammation.

Leaky gut as a cause of inflammation

Another serious side effect of inflammation caused by a Western-style diet is “leaky gut.” The lining of the digestive tract (or “intestinal lining”) is a protective and selective barrier that only absorbs specific beneficial substances while keeping harmful particles out.

When the tiny holes in the intestinal lining wear down and get larger, this is called leaky gut.

There are several things that contribute to the creation of leaky gut, but the main causes include:

  • Poor diet.
  • Chronic stress.
  • Toxin overload.
  • Bacterial imbalance.

Over time, these factors create larger holes in the intestinal lining so that larger, more harmful particles can pass through it and cause inflammation in various parts of your body. If you get worse, you risk developing immune system problems or autoimmune conditions.

Tips for Managing Inflammation Caused by Stress and Food

  • Realize that food is your friend and that the right food can help your mind and body.
  • Self-directed manual reflexology massages.
  • You will always be your worst critic: be kind to yourself.
  • Learn to breathe deeply with breathing exercises.
  • Help balance your hormones with a good night’s sleep.
  • It can be challenging, but learn to say “no.”
  • Learn to eat well to alter your weight properly.
  • Avoid toxic junk food.
  • Make your favorite unhealthy foods healthy.
  • Avoid dangerous drugs that destroy the immune system.

Almost 70 percent of all deaths in the United States occur from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Why does it matter? It matters because the common link in all of those deaths is inflammation.

When you consider the two most common habits that contribute to chronic inflammation, our stress levels and diets, it becomes clear how intertwined they are.

Stress influences our food choices and what we eat can affect our mood and pro-inflammatory responses to stress. So if we can’t handle at least one of those habits, then we’re in big trouble.

But we know you can.

Inflamer. That’s the Latin root of the word ‘inflame’, which is where we get ‘inflammation’. It means “to set fire with passion.” So let’s be passionate about our bodies and try our best to live a full and healthy life.

Try any of the tips above. Get a friend or two to be healthier so you don’t do this trip alone. See what works for you and don’t be afraid to start small. Inevitably, change will come if you are willing to consistently pay attention and effort.


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