Inflammation 101: What Happens When Your Body is on Red Alert

Bearded man holding medication packaging at home
Medically Reviewed
March 18, 2024

As a clinical nutritionist and part of an integrative medicine team, I truly believe health begins with understanding the root causes of your symptoms, not just masking them. Inflammation is one of those fundamental processes in the body that can be a major red flag if things are out of balance. 

What is Inflammation? 

At its core, inflammation is your body’s natural defense mechanism. Think of it like your internal fire alarm. When there’s an injury or infection, your immune system sends out a signal that where it is triggered.   

Its purpose is to heal, protect, and bring things back to normal. This is what we call acute inflammation– it’s short-term and beneficial. 

The Problem: Chronic Inflammation 

However, the problem arises when inflammation lingers far past its welcome. Chronic inflammation occurs when your body remains on high alert for extended periods.  

This ongoing state of low-level fire within your body can slowly wreak havoc, contributing to a wide range of health issues, including: 

  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Arthritis 
  • Allergies 
  • Autoimmune diseases 
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Certain types of cancer 

What Causes Chronic Inflammation? 

The triggers of chronic inflammation are often rooted in modern lifestyle factors. Here are some big ones: 

  • Poor Diet: Processed foods, excess sugar, unhealthy fats, and a lack of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole foods stoke the fire. 
  • Stress: Chronic stress floods your body with stress hormones, sending your immune system into overdrive. 
  • Environmental Toxins: Exposure to pollutants, chemicals, and heavy metals can burden your body and promote inflammation. 
  • Lack of Sleep: When you don’t get enough restorative sleep, your body’s ability to repair and regulate itself is compromised. 
  • Gut Imbalances: An unhealthy gut microbiome can lead to gut inflammation, which contributes to system-wide issues. 

Putting Out the Fire: A Root Cause Approach 

The good news is that you can take charge and help reduce chronic inflammation. As an integrative team, we work with our patients to uncover the underlying triggers and use a variety of approaches for healing: 

  • Nutrition as Medicine: A whole foods diet rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients is the foundation. Focus on colorful plants, healthy fats like those from fish and olive oil, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. 
  • Targeted Supplementation: In partnership with your healthcare provider, supplements like turmeric, ginger, and specific nutrients can help calm inflammation. 
  • Stress Management: Mind-body practices like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are powerful tools to manage your stress response. 
  • Sleep Hygiene: Prioritize consistent, restful sleep. 
  • Addressing Environmental Exposures: Limit your exposure to toxins wherever possible. 

Listen to Your Body and Find the Best Treatment for Chronic Inflammation with Nava

Understanding inflammation is an important step towards better health. Pay attention to how your body feels. Are you experiencing unexplained fatigue, joint pain, skin issues, digestive problems, or feeling unwell?  

These subtle signs could be pointing to deeper inflammation. 

If you’re ready to get to the root of your health concerns, consider consulting with an integrative medicine practitioner. They’ll partner with you to create a personalized plan for restoring balance and feeling your best. 

Disclaimer: This blog post is meant for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your health. 

StephanieM Headshot Doctor - Nava Health
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Stephanie is an autoimmune advocate and Functional Nutritionist who blends science, humor, and herbalism to create personalized nutrition and integrative health strategies. With over five years of clinical experience, Stephanie has helped numerous clients overcome various health issues, from weight management to autoimmunity and hormonal balance.