Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 8:00:00 AM UTC
Chronic inflammation poses a significant risk factor for numerous long-term illnesses that could ultimately reduce the quality of life and become life-threatening. Temporary inflammation signals danger and passes when resolved, but chronic inflammation is caused by specific factors that prevent resolution, leading to persisting levels of low-grade general body inflammation. According to recent research, over half of all deaths today are related to chronic inflammatory diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, fatty liver, and autoimmune and neurodegenerative conditions.
The top seven triggers of chronic inflammation and their impact on health:
1. Chronic infections: Certain microorganisms, such as viruses and bacteria, can resist our body's defenses and cause chronic infections, leading to inflammation. For instance, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C virus, and Candida overgrowth can trigger chronic inflammation (ScienceDirect, n.d.).
2. Toxic exposures: Environmental toxins such as air pollutants, heavy metals, prescription drugs, pesticides, chemicals in food, personal care products, and household cleaners can cause chronic inflammation. Studies have shown that many chemicals commonly exposed to drive inflammation and inflammation-related diseases (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, n.d.).
3. Poor sleep: Inflammatory molecules like cytokines are often elevated among people who don't sleep well. Poor sleep quality can raise blood pressure, interfere with normal brain function, and activate inflammatory processes (Sleep Medicine Reviews, 2015).
4. Chronic stress: Persistent psychological stressors such as high-demand jobs or financial insecurity can increase inflammation. Chronic stress drains psychological resources, leading to chronic inflammation (Annual Review of Psychology, 2012).
5. Lack of exercise: Regular physical activity produces anti-inflammatory myokines that help reduce inflammation. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to obesity, excessive abdominal fat, a higher risk of heart, metabolic, autoimmune, and brain diseases, and certain types of cancer (Frontiers in Immunology, 2019).
6. Inflammatory foods: A typical Western diet low in fruits, veggies, and fiber-rich foods and high in animal products, refined grains, alcohol, and ultra-processed foods causes inflammation. Foods like sodas, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, and red and processed meats are pro-inflammatory and can accelerate the inflammatory disease process (Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2006).
7. Gut problems: An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut (dysbiosis) can trigger inflammation in various ways, such as the loss of health-protecting bacteria and the acquisition or overgrowth of pathogens (Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 2012).
Additional inflammation causes include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and environmental factors such as pollution and radiation (Frontiers in Immunology, 2020).
Chronic inflammation is a serious concern that has become increasingly prevalent today. By being aware of the top triggers of chronic inflammation, individuals can make lifestyle changes to mitigate their risk of developing chronic inflammatory diseases.
Please remember that these are not the only factors that can trigger inflammation; based on my opinion and research, they are the most significant. Other lifestyle choices contributing to inflammation include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to environmental factors such as pollution and radiation.
ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Chronic Inflammation. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/chronic-inflammation
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (n.d.). Inflammation. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/inflammation/index.cfm
Sleep Medicine Reviews. (2015). Sleep and inflammation: From partner to opponent. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 19, 63-72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.08.005
Annual Review of Psychology. (2012). Stress, inflammation, and psychological resilience. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 525-549. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-1009
Frontiers in Immunology. (2019). Exercise-induced myokines in health and metabolic diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, 10, Article 2023. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02023
Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2006). Inflammation and diet: Is there a connection? Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 25(6), 503-504. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2006.10719666
Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. (2012). Inflammation and gut-brain axis during critical illness: A role of glucagon-like peptide-1. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 9(5), 261-266. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrgastro.2012.15
Frontiers in Immunology. (2020). Smoking and inflammation: Mechanisms and potential therapeutic interventions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Frontiers in Immunology, 11, Article 580244. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.580244