Inflammation can secretly smolder in your body—unnoticed—for years. When it becomes chronic, it can fuel disease, premature aging and harm your natural repair systems. To stop unhealthy inflammation and heal, you need to nourish your health from every angle: mind, body, and spirit, in order to find calm from the inside out. From acute to chronic inflammation, here’s how to heal and support your body’s natural repair functions and reduce your risk of disease.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation, in small amounts, is actually healthy, as long as it occurs quickly and your body is equipped to handle and balance your inflammation responses. When your body has an injury or an infection, it responds with inflammation, to protect and defend against the threats it is facing. Inflammation can look and feel like swelling, redness, pain, discomfort, and more.
If your body’s inflammation and repair system is out of balance and constantly in overdrive, you get uncontrolled inflammation that can turn chronic, stopping your body’s natural repair systems from bouncing back quickly. This can cause changes on the cellular and genetic levels, impair your immune system, harden tissues and organs (aka fibrosis), and fuel our most dangerous health conditions. Simply put, all major degenerative conditions are fueled by chronic inflammation—from cancer to cardiovascular disease, and premature aging.
The good news is that there are researched natural solutions that effectively target unhealthy inflammation at the source, support balanced inflammation responses, and help heal the damage of chronic inflammation—with proven benefits for key areas of health.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
Whether we stub a toe, or are exposed to dangerous bacteria or toxic threats, the immune system unleashes a cascade of inflammatory proteins called cytokines, which orchestrate the repair process. This is supposed to be a rapid response that addresses the problem and then recedes—and it’s all driven by master alarm protein, galectin-3.1
Unfortunately, stress, toxins, processed diets, lack of sleep and inactivity,and our fast-paced lifestyles can keep our alarm system on high alert and contribute to unhealthy inflammation that never turns off. In the cases of an acute infection, an overactive inflammation response, driven by galectin-3, can lead to a deadly cytokine storm, where vital organs shut down due to overwhelming inflammation.2
When inflammation continues, you get what’s known as “inflammaging”—chronic inflammation in the body that accelerates the aging process and fuels a wide range of degenerative diseases like autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease, and more.3
Over time, the constant flow of galectin-3 and related cytokines and other inflammatory proteins can seriously damage cells and tissues. As long as your body perceives a threat, it will respond with inflammation.
Effects of Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can cause symptoms like low energy, memory loss, skin changes and wrinkles, joint pain and others, but most people chalk these up to normal signs of aging. However, these symptoms and side-effects are actually caused by chronic inflammation, and its effect on your cells, tissues and organs.
Ongoing inflammation disrupts cells signals, causes fibrosis, increases free radicals and oxidative stress in the body, impairs detoxification, promotes unhealthy fat storage, harms cellular mitochondria that produce energy, and much more.
Inflammation can also turn off mechanisms associated with DNA repair. Damaged DNA can lead to many different health issues, including cancer and reproductive problems. So it’s critical we find ways to calm inflammation and repair the damage.4
Chronic inflammation can also fuel diabetes, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and more.
How to Heal Inflammation
For optimal inflammation responses, be sure to eliminate processed foods, trans-fats, sugar, refined grains, and alcohol. Replace them with lean proteins, sprouted whole grains and plenty of organic fruits and vegetables. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients to help cool inflammation in the body and provide powerful nutrients to help repair the damage. Omega-3 fatty acids from sources like wild sardines, flax and chia seeds, and walnuts also help reduce inflammation.
Your microbiome, the bacteria and other microbes in your guts, also play important roles in the inflammation response. The right probiotics can help reduce inflammation in the gut, with far-reaching benefits including improving skin inflammation like psoriasis, and reducing the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics: Yogurt, kefir, kimchee, sauerkraut, and miso. It’s also a good idea to incorporate prebiotic nutrients, found in prebiotic supplements as well foods like asparagus, onion, and garlic, to feed the good bacteria. In my practice, I’ve seen remarkable improvements in my patients’ gut health, using an organic liquid probiotic blend with prebiotic nutrients and digestive herbs.
Healthy Stress Relief
By now we know: our bodies aren’t well-suited for hyper-busy lifestyles. Chronic stress, lack of sleep and burn out spike the stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin that drive chronic inflammation.
Exercise is key for stress relief—and healthy inflammation responses. Walking, cycling, swimming and yoga are excellent methods. If you want a more strenuous workout, that’s good too, but don’t overdo it, because strenuous work outs can actually fuel inflammation in your body. In addition to reducing stress, exercise helps keep weight at a healthy level, which is important since excess fat is directly linked to chronic inflammation.
Meditation is also a great way to reduce stress. Even just a few minutes in the afternoon, perhaps right after lunch, can help reset our minds and leave us refreshed for the rest of the day.
Modified Citrus Pectin: Super-Nutrient for Healing Inflammation
My top supplement for inflammation and total-body health, is a researched form of modified citrus pectin (MCP). With over 70 published studies, this unique ingredient is the only agent shown to block unhealthy levels of galectin-3, the inflammatory alarm protein. Thousands of studies show how unhealthy galectin-3 in the body drives cancer, heart disease, neurological disease, chronic inflammation and fibrosis of organs and tissues. Galectin-3 is also shown to cause the deadly cytokine storm in acute infections.2
This form of MCP works by binding to excess galectin-3 in the body and blocking its pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic effects. MCP is also an excellent detoxifier, safely removing heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium.5
By making simple lifestyle adjustments, we can calm our overactive inflammation responses, put out the fires of chronic inflammation, and reap the benefits of more energy, greater mental clarity, improved mood, better immunity and long-term protection against chronic disease.
- Díaz-Alvarez, Laura & Soto, Enrique. The Many Roles of Galectin-3, a Multifaceted Molecule, in Innate Immune Responses against Pathogens. Mediators of Inflammation. 2017. 1-10. 10.1155/2017/9247574.
- Caniglia JL, Asuthkar S, Tsung AJ, et al. Immunopathology of galectin-3: an increasingly promising target in COVID-19. F1000Res. 2020 Sep 1;9:1078.
- Franceschi C, Garagnani P, Parini P, et al. Inflammaging: a new immune-metabolic viewpoint for age-related diseases. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2018 Oct;14(10):576-590.
- Kay J, Thadhani E, Samson L, Engelward B. Inflammation-induced DNA damage, mutations and cancer. DNA Repair (Amst). 2019 Nov;83:102673.
- Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 1;11(11):2619. doi: 10.3390/nu11112619. PMID: 31683865; PMCID: PMC6893732.