by Dr Vanessa Ingraham

What do heart attacks, Alzheimer's, diabetes and depression all have in common?  The underlying mechanism by which they occur and progress may the same — chronic inflammation driven by poor diet and lifestyle choices, stressful lives and big bellies. 

The word “inflammation” describes our body’s natural response to injury. 

The last time you got the flu, were bitten by a mosquito or sprained an ankle, you experienced inflammation. Appropriate inflammation is a protective mechanism and results in swelling, an increased immune system response, increased circulation to the damaged area and a host of complex cellular processes that together facilitate healing.   

You can think of your immune system as ebbing and flowing like the tide, with natural anti-inflammatory compounds keeping the system in check and initiating the healing process once inflammation washes away the source of injury.

Chronic immune activation and inflammation is like the breaking of a levee, flooding every bodily system and resulting in significant tissue damage.  
Inflammation is thought to be a significant driving factor for almost every disease associated with ageing. Aside from those typically associated with inflammation such as arthritis, conditions such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmunity, osteoporosis, diabetes and even skin wrinkling all have roots in chronic inflammation.   

In order to achieve vibrant health we need to understand the causes of and how to allay chronic inflammation. In subsequent posts I will look at those causes, and how to reduce inflammation. 

* Dr Vanessa Ingraham is an expert health adviser and a doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.

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