What causes inflammation and why is it dangerous?

Inflammation is a defense mechanism vital to support health as it protects organisms from injury and infections, and, like all healthy bodily systems, keeping it in proper balance is key to feeling its benefits. Body production of antioxidant proteins is one of many ways to support your overall health. With the right knowledge, nutrients, and lifestyle choices, you can keep your body feeling good and looking good.

What causes inflammation from an active lifestyle?

When your body is challenged through physical activity or a healthy, active lifestyle, it activates your immune system. The first responders of your immune system are inflammatory white blood cells which produce compounds called cytokines that will recruit more white blood cells. They then start healing injured tissue.

When this happens, it increases the blood flow to the area of injury and causes redness and warmth. When these infection-fighting chemicals leak into your tissues it can cause swelling and trigger nerves, causing pain. For instance, when you cut your finger, the body will send white blood cells to the injury to start the healing process.

Two types of inflammation predominate: (1) acute (short-term) inflammation as part of a healthy immune response and (2) chronic (long-term) inflammation as a cause or symptom of underlying health problems. Autoimmune disorders are the biggest cause of chronic inflammation. These are conditions in which your body’s immune system mistakes healthy tissues as foreign and attacks them. These disorders lead to fatigue, fever, muscle aches, joint pain, and swelling, and even more complicated symptoms. Varying degrees of autoimmune diseases and symptoms exist, all depending on your genetics, environment, and personal health. If you’re dealing with chronic inflammation, you should meet with your doctor to get advice on how to take care of yourself.

Acute inflammation only lasts a few hours or a couple of days and usually comes from several different lifestyle factors. Exposure to toxins like pollution or industrial chemicals can cause inflammation. Injuries involving scrapes, insect stings, or a splinter in your finger are versions of environmental hazards that lead to inflammation. Pathogens like bacteria, viruses, or fungi around your home can cause health issues. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, chronic stress, or lack of physical activity can affect your body’s ability to deal with inflammation.

What can you do about it?

Taking care of your body is the best way to prevent inflammation. Rest, exercise, managing stress, limiting alcohol and smoking, and getting enough vital nutrients are the most effective ways to prevent inflammation. Leafy greens, tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, fish, berries, and oranges all have anti-inflammatory properties.

Avoiding foods that trigger inflammation can have a positive effect as well. This includes refined carbohydrates, fried foods, sugary drinks, commercialized baked goods, and red or processed meats. Antioxidants can help maintain redox balance when oxidant levels are elevated, which helps your body avoid oxidative stress. Antioxidants are a natural part of your metabolism, but you can also get them from food and supplements.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This material is intended for a US audience only

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