What is Inflammation?

Inflammation comes from the latin inflammo, which means to ‘set alight', and is the body's natural response to irritants, infection, damaged cells and other harmful stimuli. When the body is met with one or more of these stimuli it produces an immune response designed to overcome this harm. The usual responses are increased bloodflow to the area which results in redness, swelling, pain and warmth.

Acute versus Chronic Inflammation

There are two main types of inflammation - acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is an immediate and shorter-lasting reaction to harmful stimuli, for example the swelling when you sprain your ankle. Blood rushes to the area to fight the damage that's been caused and this results in the pain, swelling and redness to the area until the damage is healed.

Chronic inflammation is different to acute inflammation, in that it involves a much longer inflammatory response in the body. When the body is experiencing chronic inflammation, its immune response is constantly signalled. This can lead to a variety of health issues and diseases.

Dangers of Chronic Inflammation

Someone experiencing chronic inflammation is at a much greater risk of developing a wide range of diseases and disorders - everything from arthritis to sleep apnoea, to Alzheimers, heart disease and cancer. When the body is in a state of constant inflammation, your body is at a much greater risk of cell damage, insulin resistance, heart damage and other potentially deadly issues. The scientific community is fundamentally in agreement about the dangers of chronic inflammation.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

There are a number of causes of inflammation that have been identified, including:

  • Carrying too much body fat
  • Poor sleep
  • Poor air quality
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Eating pro-inflammatory foods such as grains, sugars, alcohol, trans and high omega-6 fats

How to Reduce Inflammation

There are certain times where you don't want to reduce the inflammatory response in your body - like when you cut yourself for example. Inflammation in this and many other cases is necessary to healing. You do want to cut any causes of chronic inflammation, however, and allow your body's natural immune responses to get a rest. Some ways to reduce inflammation are:

  • Reduce your body fat levels
  • Try to get plenty of high quality sleep
  • Increase your omega-3 intake (from seafood, fish oil and grass-fed meats)
  • Exercise
  • Quit smoking and drinking
  • Increase your antioxidant, fibre and greens intakes


While inflammation is a necessary (and not always a bad) response within the human body to infection, irritants and other potential hazards, having the body in a constant state of inflammation is extremely unhealthy. Chronic inflammation is linked to almost every major cause of illness and death, including cancer, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimers. By reducing pro-inflammatory activities such as poor sleep and high sugar diets, and by increasing your intake of omega-3's, antioxidants and exercise, you can reduce your inflammation levels and ensure your body only fights the battles it needs to.

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