Inflammation and the Immune System

health real life Apr 12, 2020
 

The immune system and inflammation are linked.
Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to initiate repair and healing.
For example: Inflammation can trigger white blood cells to start chasing and gobbling up viruses and bacteria.

Redness, swelling, heat and pain as well as stiffness and fatigue are all part of the immune response.

Inflammation actually begins on a cellular level. Each cell membrane, or cell surface, can initiate a chemical reaction that cascades over multiple steps to produce the multifaceted inflammatory response.
A cell in inflammation action is not doing its normal job. It’s in an emergency situation trying to save its own life. Now that is stress!
Inflammation creates stress in your tissues. Conversely, stress of most kinds, can create inflammation.
Because inflammation is a cellular response, it can occur throughout the body. Any disease name ending in ‘-itis’ indicates it is an inflammation.

Inflammation can be devided into two categories:
Short term and chronic inflammation:
Short term inflammation takes care of healing your muscles and fascia after a strenuous workout. It helps heal your skin after a sunburn, an insect bite or makes sure an infected cut doesn’t is kept under control.
You can see inflammation itself is very important for our life and survival.

The reason why inflammation has such a different reputation today is because of its regulation. With more triggers, more stimulants and less ability to resolve inflammation in our bodies, inflammation can become chronic.
Most problematic diseases today are chronic diseases. And chronic diseases have inflammation as an underlying background.
And inflammation doesn’t have to be severe. So called low-grade inflammation is the niggly state of pain or discomfort that we often put up with.
Think of abdominal swelling, annoying rashes, allergies or achy joints.

However, long term low inflammation damages cells and cell function. And that of course reduces the function and integrity of the tissue they are in. The result is dysregulation of tissue specific processes and functional failure.

Here’s how stress fits in:
Stress directly triggers inflammation via hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol.
Chronic stress brings with it chronic high levels of these stress hormones and inflammation.
When the immune system is challenged in that stressed state, an individual is less likely to respond adequately and cannot regulate their immune system. [1]

Mental and emotional stress have the same effect biologically as a bacterial or viral invasion or physical threats would.This sympathetic nervous system mediated stress response changes the function of our immune system and increases inflammation. [2]

How about others forms of stress:
Here’s a tricky one: Loneliness and separation.
Loneliness triggers inflammation through the stress response and at the same time seems to reduce virus fighting capabilities of the body. (lowers interferon levels) [3]

Having chronic inflammation for prolonged periods in our life predisposes us to depression, Alzheimers disease and frailty when getting older.[4] [5] [6]

Now, what can we do to stay healthy and avoid excessive inflammation?
I like to go with a simple 3 phase approach.

First: Stop doing, or eating, or taking what creates inflammation for you.
    If you bang your head against a wall and it hurts, you don’t take pain killers and keep going. You stop hitting that wall for the pain to subside in due time.

Second: Do, eat, take what lowers inflammation and regulates your immune response.
    This can be sleep and rest, exercise, a change in nutritional habits and so on [7] [8] [9] [10]

Third: Establish a maintenance and improvement protocol with your successful interventions from the second phase.
    This prevents recurrence of the inflammation and builds better resilience.

I hope this helps you understand the connection between inflammation and the immune system a little better.


My recommendation for you is to start today to make healthier choices across all areas of your life and enjoy better health.



[1] https://www.cmu.edu/common-cold-project/
[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/spc3.12471
[3] https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/11/18/1514249112.abstract
[4] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333240398_Chronic_Systemic_Inflammation_Is_Associated_With_Symptoms_of_Late-Life_Depression_The_ARIC_Study
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6742958/
[6] https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/74/3/343/4925244
[7] https://thesleepdoctor.com/2019/01/01/5-things-to-know-about-sleep-and-inflammation/
[8] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet
[9] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254618301005
[10] https://www.franciscanhealth.org/news-and-events/news/chronic-inflammation-key-driver-disease

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