Understanding Inflammation – Cancer Dietitian

In today’s article, we’re going to give you the high level, big picture understanding of how inflammation works in the body. If you missed the recent webinar on inflammation, click this link to watch the recording and find out some recommended reading.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s natural defense mechanism which the immune system recognizes and removes harmful and foreign stimuli and begins the healing process. It’s a great system!

  • Acute Inflammation: The body’s natural response to illness, injury or infection and usually resolves on its own.
    • Examples: redness, swelling, pain, heat
  • Chronic Inflammation: Systemic inflammation affects the whole body and can last months to years.
    • Examples: Diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, some forms of cancer, arthritis, etc.

Can Inflammation be Measured?

“There are no highly effective laboratory measures to assess patients for chronic inflammation and diagnoses are only undertaken when the inflammation occurs in association with another medical condition”

NIH National Library of Medicine

Inflammation can be measured through C-reactive Protein (CRP) and fibrinogen lab values but these cannot differentiate between acute inflammation vs chronic inflammation.

  • The general population will not use these tests to measure inflammation levels. If a person has multiple underlying conditions along with chronic inflammation, such as diabete,s these test may be appropriate to measure inflammation.

Can Chronic Inflammation be Managed?

Yes! Chronic inflammation can be managed through lifestyle choices and sometines with medications. Below are little changes that can be made that will help individuals manage their inflammation. You do not need to jump in and change your whole lifestyle at once.

Start with an option that you are most comfortable with and slowly start incorporating the other options we have listed below. Starting slow will help make these lifelong changes instead of being overwhelmed with too much at once.

Lifestyle – things that are recommended for everyone!

  • Healthy eating pattern
  • Physical activity
  • Adequate sleep
  • Stress management
  • Minimize intake of antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication

Medications – typically only in combination with a secondary diagnosis that necessitates a medical response:

  • Metformin, statins, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids

Bottom Line

Inflammation is the way your body fights and removes anything that might cause harm to it. Our body’s are amazing in that way! Even though inflammation helps the body, long term inflammation cause cause harm to the body. Good thing is that you can make some lifestyle changes to mange.

Be sure to follow along with our inflammation series with our webinar and inflammatory must have foods! Look out for our inflammation must haves which will discuss food options that will help with inflammation management!

  • Inflammation webinar
  • Inflammation must have foods! (Coming in our next blog post to be released later this week!)

-Julie & Intern Katie

Anti-inflammatory Eating Webinar Recording

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