The "I" Word: When Inflammation goes Awry
We often think that inflammation is a response that needs to be mediated. However, the inflammatory response plays a vital role in healing and injury repair. It is a natural and necessary immune reaction that sets the stage for the body to heal. It's a built-in defence system that's activated when harmful substances, viruses and bacteria enter the body. We see this valuable immune response when we get sick, when we bump or scrape our knees, in allergies or when we eat foods that contain molds and chemicals.
So how does this inflammatory response work?
Damaged tissues release a distress signal in the form of neurotransmitters, hormones and proteins. This process leads to increased permeability and dilation of blood vessels, allowing blood to flow to the damaged area. Fluid, antibodies, lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages translocate to the damaged tissue and cleanse the area by diluting toxic chemicals and engulfing foreign bacteria.
Inflammation can fall into one of two categories- classical and chronic and it's important to distinguish between the two. Classical inflammation is the body’s natural defence mechanism that sets the stage for healing. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, inhibits the body’s ability to heal, damages cells and creates an environment that increases susceptibility to illness and disease.
Classical Inflammation - Setting the stage for the body to heal
Classical inflammation is an acute, localized response with a rapid onset that can last from hours to days. This classical presentation is often seen when injury is caused by physical, chemical or biological agents. The purpose is to allow for flow of white blood cells, proteins and fluid to the damaged area to clean up debris and ensure you don’t move the area while it heals.
Chronic Inflammation - Setting the stage for chronic disease and long-term health consequences
While chronic inflammation is the result of the same immune response as classical inflammation, it is longer lasting with either a rapid or slow onset that can last for days, weeks, months or even years. This chronic presentation tends to occur when acute inflammation is not resolved, if the body lacks the immune function to overcome a pathogen, or the body is bombarded with low-grade exposure to chemicals and toxins that wear it down over time. This chronic, low-grade inflammation results in many physiological changes in the body. Virtually every system is effected including cardiovascular, neurological, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems.
Chronic inflammation does the opposite of what inflammation is intended to do. It damages cell membranes, tissues, organs, organ systems, and DNA.
Damage to DNA results in changes at the epigenetic level and damage to cellular membranes disrupts effective communication between cells and body systems, leading to wide spread effects throughout the body.
So why is it so important to address chronic inflammation in our clients?
Inflammation beyond the acute phase is detrimental and can inhibit healing. The chronic, non-localized inflammatory response has widespread effects and contributes to every chronic disease. It disrupts the immune systems ability to effectively fight off pathogens, inhibits appropriate cell apoptosis and negatively impacts cell signalling. This leads to susceptibility to illness and disease ranging from the common cold, infections, metabolic disorders to cancers.
It is vital to reduce inflammation in our clients in order for our protocols to be effective.
When chronic inflammation is not quenched, healing cannot take place. By focusing on specific dietary and lifestyale changes, you’ll be able to reduce inflammation in your clients. Results will happen faster and this will help you to establish trust. The speedier results and increased trust can also have downstream effects in your practice such as increased patient referrals and building credibility.
Continue to check in for upcoming posts on inflammation discussing how inflammation develops in clients and different strategies to address inflammation for faster results including our foolproof plan to rapidly reduce inflammation.
If you want to start helping your clients reduce inflammation now, sign up for our FREE course: The Foolproof Plan to Help Your Clients Rapidly Reduce Inflammation
Katie Hogg is a Holistic Nutritionist, CNP based in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario with a major in Psychology. Her own personal struggle with chronic, undiagnosed health issues lead her to pursue her education in Holistic Nutrition after experiencing first hand the profound benefits that changes in diet, lifestyle and supplementation had on her health. This experience led her to develop a profound passion for learning, researching and sharing up-to-date information to nutrition and health based questions. Aside from her passion for all things food, health and nutrition, Katie spends her time painting, reading and hiking with her dog.