MEDA. Putting a spotlight on inflammation

Inflammation is a buzzword in the wellbeing world, and for a good reason. Inflammation has been linked to the development of chronic diseases; weight gain, depression and more. But what is inflammation? Is all inflammation bad? Our in-house nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr summarises below.

What is inflammation? 
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to harm. Think of it like your personal fighting power. This harm can include anything from injuries, toxins, infections and bugs. Without inflammation wounds would be left open, bacteria can run riot, and infections could become deadly; however when the inflammatory process goes on too long then it too can be problematic. 

There are two main types of inflammation. Acute and chronic:

Acute inflammation is short-term and speedy. Think of a time when you fell over and cut yourself (hopefully not too often!). Your body triggers an inflammatory response to help protect and heal the cut – that redness, soreness and heat is all part of the inflammatory immune response.

Chronic inflammation is where many of us need to listen up! This is the kind of inflammation that might be low grade but lingers on causing symptoms and potential health concerns – our bodies are in a constant state of alert!

Causes of inflammation 
Chronic inflammation can be the result of infections, pathogenic bacteria, autoimmune disorders, long term exposure to chemicals and mould, chronic stress, high alcohol consumption, poor dietary intake, obesity, smoking and dysbiosis in the gut… to name a few!

Signs and symptoms 
Inflammation is said to be at the root of many health concerns including for example: depression, autoimmune disease, diabetes and heart disease.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but indicates many signs and symptoms:

Persistent pain
Changes in mood Weight gain
Frequent illness
Digestive issues
Body aches and pains
Foggy mind / brain fog
Hormonal changes
Skin breakouts 
Food intolerance symptons
Histamine production including hay fever  

How to know if you have inflammation  
Having a family history of chronic diseases including autoimmune conditions, having a poor dietary intake and being overweight can put you at an increased risk of chronic inflammation.

When it comes to testing — running a C Reactive Protein and an ESR test can show whether you have levels of chronic inflammation showing in your blood. However, not everyone with low grade inflammation may have increased levels of these parameters. Another way is to keep a symptom diary for a month and note your diet, symptoms, lifestyle and how you generally sleep along with your mood. If you have a number of the related symptoms of chronic inflammation book in with a Nutritionist, Nutritional Therapist or Functional Medicine practitioner to try and uncover the root cause of your inflammation.

What to do if you have inflammation? 
Look out for our next feature on “how to follow an anti-inflammatory diet”