Inflammation is a word we often associate with redness, pain, swelling or stiffness.
But what exactly is it, and how does it impact our bodies?
Simply put, inflammation is our body's natural defence mechanism against harmful stimuli. This could be anything from an invading virus to a physical injury. Think of it as your body's fire alarm, alerting your immune system to spring into action and address the problem.
However, inflammation comes in two forms: Acute and Chronic. Understanding the difference between them is key to effectively managing our health.
Acute inflammation is your body's immediate response to an injury or illness. If you've ever had a cut that becomes red around the edges or sprained your ankle and it immediately becomes swollen, that's acute inflammation in action.
It's a short-term reaction, usually disappearing within a few days to a week once healing occurs.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a sustained, ongoing response that can persist for several months or even years. Unlike acute inflammation, which arises rapidly in response to an injury or infection and then subsides once the issue has been addressed, chronic inflammation doesn't readily switch off.
Chronic inflammation is often triggered by several factors such as prolonged exposure to irritants (like chemicals or persistent allergies), unhealthy lifestyle habits (like a poor diet, lack of exercise, or smoking), certain infections, and autoimmune disorders where the body mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells.
Rather than protecting the body, chronic inflammation can end up causing damage.
Cells, tissues and organs can be adversely affected by this persistent inflammatory state. Over time, this can lead to DNA damage, tissue death, and internal scarring. All of these are linked to the development of numerous health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
Simply put, while acute inflammation is like a helpful local firefighter putting out a blaze, chronic inflammation is more akin to a wildfire that burns uncontrollably, causing harm to the very body it was designed to protect.
In the following sections, we discuss five scientifically-backed tips to help manage and reduce chronic inflammation, enabling you to lead a healthier life. Let's dive in!