The cumulative nature of chronic inflammation and what to do about it
Acute and chronic inflammation are very different things. Acute inflammation typically occurs in response to a traumatic or infectious event. It manifests as redness, swelling, heat, and pain, which means that acute inflammation is noticeable and obvious.
In contrast, chronic inflammation can be silent for years before manifesting as pain, depression and chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. This makes the cause-effect relationships of chronic inflammation to be less obvious than that for acute inflammation.
Our bodies produce inflammatory chemicals, such as cytokines, whenever the body is stressed. When the stressor is a bee sting, insect bite, or a sprained ankle, we suffer from an acute inflammation response that is obvious to us because the body produces large amounts of cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals to create redness, swelling, heat, and pain.
It turns out that the same inflammatory chemicals are produced by the body when we live a pro-inflammatory lifestyle that is characterized by overeating pro-inflammatory calories, a lack of sleep, poorly management mental/emotional stressors, and sedentary living. The difference is that less cytokines and other chemicals are produced by these lifestyle issues compared to infections and sprains, so the inflammation response is not obvious – there is no redness, swelling, and heat.
This is a very problematic situation because it means that people can live a pro-inflammatory lifestyle for many years before pain, depression, and chronic diseases emerge. In other words, this cause-effect relationship is often protracted for many years, which makes it difficult to conceptualize. The video embedded in this blog, was designed to help people conceptualize the nature of lifestyle-induced chronic inflammation.
Making matters worse is the fact that people tend to become habituated to their pro-inflammatory lifestyles, which causes people to resist engaging in a new anti-inflammatory lifestyle. In other words, most of us have a difficult time replacing old habits with new ones, no what habit we are working on. Additionally, our drug culture promotes the false notion that medications have the ability to make people healthy, which is impossible.
It is important to understand that no drug or, cocktail of drugs, is capable of overcoming the tsunami of inflammation that is created by years of overeating pro-inflammatory calories, inadequate sleep, poorly management mental/emotional stressors, and sedentary living. When people face this fact, many become overwhelmed by what to do because habit-breaking is stressful to the mind. This is why it is better to focus on measurable outcomes. For example, if one’s fasting triglyceride level are above 150 mg/dl, the first goal is to get this number below 150, and then work to get the level below 90 mg/dl.
The human mind does well when it is challenged with goals that are achievable. Chapter 9 in the first DeFlame Diet book contains a chart of many easy-to-measure inflammatory markers that can and should be tracked. Achieving normal markers becomes the barometer for lifestyle change. For whatever reason, when it comes to dietary changes, flamed up people often want to know the degree to which they can still eat pro-inflammatory foods. The answer, is straightforward. Each of us has a different tolerance level for pro-inflammatory calories and this is discovered by working to achieve normal levels of inflammatory markers, which means that the only way to identify your “dessert” or “French fry” threshold is to track the inflammatory markers listed in Chapter 9 of The DeFlame Diet: DeFlame Your Diet, Body, and Mind.