Some people may think of a sprained ankle after a long climb when they hear the term “inflammation.” But inflammation has also been found to be a major cause of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes, and many infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, a professor of immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine, was asked about acute and chronic inflammation and how they relate to homeostasis. Homeostasis is the process by which our bodies naturally keep the vital functions that keep us alive, like our heart rate, breathing rate, glucose levels, and insulin levels, at the right levels. Iwasaki also says that a better understanding of inflammation can give clues about how to treat diseases that cause inflammation. Don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID if you want to protect your health and the health of others around you.
What Is Inflammation?
When doctors and scientists talk about inflammation, they’re talking to the body’s natural response to tissue injury or infection. The immune system triggers this protective reaction by sending white blood cells to the site of injury, where they cause inflammation and sometimes more severe symptoms including redness, swelling, and fever. Furthermore, they discuss how the acute immune response isn’t always sufficient to eliminate these infections. When inflammation persists over an extended period of time, it may cause serious health problems. Iwasaki argues that in “conditions like HIV or hepatitis virus infection or lengthy COVID,” a “permanent viral reservoir” may be to blame for the chronic inflammation. In such scenario, “the inflammation itself becomes the adversary,” she says.
“The body’s immune system triggers acute inflammation in order to eliminate invaders. Consequently, an acute inflammatory response must be initiated rapidly in order to eradicate a pathogen such as a virus or bacterium. Unfortunately, the infection may be resistant to the body’s first, rapid immune reaction. Activating the immune system’s adaptive response is the next step. This is when the immune system deploys specialized T and B cells to combat the pathogen “A brief explanation from Iwasaki. She explains that although inflammation is often beneficial for fighting off germs, it may potentially develop malignant in certain cases.
“In circumstances such as long-term infection with HIV or the hepatitis virus or chronic CMV infection, inflammation persists because the body is unable to eradicate the underlying viral or bacterial trigger. To that end, we hypothesize that a latent viral reservoir is what’s really behind the ongoing inflammation. Inflammation is the primary antagonist “, Iwasaki claims. “Inflammation is activated by a wide variety of stimuli, despite the fact that it first developed to fight against infections. And so, for example, having an excess amount of fat alone is able to trigger the immune system and induce the chronic inflammatory response that then fuels further problems to occur, as the body is essentially trying to fight off a non-existent infection, and this can lead to a chronic state of inflammation “Iwasaki elaborates.
We are learning more and more about the physiological significance of inflammation, and Iwasaki claims that she cannot conceive of an illness that does not entail inflammation. “Homeostasis guarantees that we have a proper functioning of diverse physiological activities like heart rate breathing and glucose levels or insulin levels. The inflammatory system and homeostasis support one another via mutual maintenance. Occasionally, an internal reaction must take precedence over a homeostatic one. Inflammatory responses are essential for maintaining physiology and health, but they are not directly related to pathogens. One example is the adaptation to a new diet; it is now known that immune cells can detect changes in dietary conditions and modify the intestine to facilitate the future absorption of nutrients “Iwasaki continues.
Losing weight is the most effective of a variety of lifestyle modifications that experts claim help decrease inflammation. A 2018 meta-analysis found that decreasing your weight and your caloric intake both have anti-inflammatory effects.
Alterations in the following areas may also help decrease inflammation:
- Consuming a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables, fiber, nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids, and low in added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, and simple carbohydrates (the kind found in fatty fish like salmon)
- Avoiding unhealthy levels of saturated and trans fats in your diet
- Exercising on a regular basis
- Calming Anxiety
- Maintaining a healthy heart by following your doctor’s advise on regular testing and care, and asking them any questions that may arise.