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What Is Inflammation and How Do I Know If I Have It?

Maybe you're not getting old. Maybe you're just eating all the wrong stuff. Let's talk about one of the more common side effects of an improper diet - inflammation.

Think about the last time you had a fever, or pushed yourself to the limit at the gym. Do you remember the sensation of your muscles and joints aching? That was inflammation.

Or that time you came back from camping with little bug bites on your arms and legs. The swelling from a bites, stings, and other skin reaction… also inflammation.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s response to injury. It is a natural, necessary process that repairs physical damage and maintains health. Inflammation creates immediate symptoms that are visible and obvious, but it also generates more subtle, long-term signals like fatigue and chronic pain. These less-obvious symptoms are evidence of ongoing inflammation that we often overlook. But they can actually clue us in to important health indicators – like ongoing issues that aren’t problems (yet) and warnings of issues that may be on the way.

Why Does Inflammation Happen?

Inflammation is a protective response. As part of  your natural immune response, your body sends chemicals that help repair damaged tissues. These chemical can also isolate toxins, foreign bodies, and diseases that may otherwise spread and cause you greater harm.

These chemicals are compromised of:

  • Extra blood-flow (that’s what causes the redness and heat)
  • Additional immune cells (that’s what causes the swelling), and
  • Concentrated chemical activity (that’s what causes the pain).

This is all good news.

When there is an emergency – like a viral infection or poison – your immune system dispatches chemicals to fight off the threat. But when your immune system become over-active, it turns on, but doesn’t turn off. Inflammation continues (becomes chronic) and you begin to experience low levels of ongoing pain and irritation. Often, this type of inflammation is diet-related, which means it’s a a simple fix.

The three non-negotiable keys to optimal health are diet, lifestyle, and exercise. Click To Tweet

Mess up in any of these three key “Qualify of Life” factors, and you can end up with serious health issues.

What Are The Consequences of Chronic Inflammation?

Chronic inflammation is an underlying factor in almost every disease process. According to “The Inflammation Theory of Disease” (Hunter),  a report published by the US National Library of Medicine:

“Inflammation has long been a well-known symptom of many infectious diseases, but molecular and epidemiological research increasingly suggests that it is also intimately linked with a broad range of non-infectious diseases, perhaps even all of them.”

The continuous presence of inflammatory chemicals in the body begins to hinder normal health-maintaining functions. In short, inflammation leads to more inflammation.

The activity of cells, tissues and organs changes, and these protective measures can cause even more damage than the original problem.

How to Know If You Have Inflammation

Are you experiencing inflammation? If you are, you may feel a constant, dull ache or low-level symptoms that don’t resolve. This may be punctuated by bouts of acute pain, known as flare-ups. Often the joints and muscles are affected, but inflammation can affect any system in the body – inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and all degenerative conditions have their roots in inflammation, according to

Other common symptoms of inflammation are:

  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • General malaise
  • Depression
  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Skin conditions

pile of bacon

Are You Eating too Many Inflammatory Foods?

Brace yourself. We’re about to rain on your bacon parade.

Certain foods tip the balance towards inflammation, because of the nutrients they contain and the way in which our bodies digest them. Some of these foods are nutritionally void, or otherwise toxic, and you may want to consider avoiding them altogether.

Here’s our Inflammatory Foods Hit List:

  • White sugar (even the ones hidden in foods)
  • Corn
  • Genetically modified foods
  • Hydrogenated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Alcohol
  • Processed foods (these are usually carbohydrates)
  • Foods sprayed with large amounts of chemical fertilizers, hormones, herbicides, and pesticides

The other category of foods that cause inflammation are healthy when eaten as part of a balanced diet, but can become a problem if eaten in large amounts or too frequently. The key is not in avoiding them altogether, but in eating them in moderation. The basic rule for a balanced diet is to eat 20% pro-inflammatory foods and 80% anti-inflammatory foods.

Here’s our Inflammatory Foods WATCH List:

  • Meat – red meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
  • Dairy – milk, cream, cheese and yogurt.
  • High-protein sources – Nuts, seeds, grains, eggs, dried or processed beans and peas.
  • Animal fats – Lard, butter, ghee, and foods cooked in them.
  • Caffeine-containing drinks – coffee, tea, cola, and herbal extracts

When these foods are balanced with 80% fresh fruits and vegetables, cold pressed vegetable oils, and pure water, it is very unlikely that inflammation will become a serious problem or lead to health conditions.

What Just Happened?

Did we just blast the entire list of foods Instagram is telling you to eat on a ketogenic diet? Yes.

Yes, we did.

And that’s because we want you to know claiming the “keto set” does not exempt you from developing gallbladder problems, heart disease, and high [bad] cholesterol (there’s a great two-part video series on cholesterol that you can find on DrMercola.com that goes into great detail on how the body’s need and use of cholesterol).

You can keto safely and still get insane results without compromising your health long-term. So, do that.

You can find a pretty cool list / pyramid of Anti-Inflammatory Foods on Dr. Andrew Weil’s Weil Lifestyle website by clicking here.


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