How Inflammation Really Works and Why It Matters

02.12.21 |

Inflammation is one of the most misunderstood aspects of health. 

When we start to talk about how choices contribute to inflammation, for many people that conversation conjures images of a swollen sore throat or a red infected lump that swells around a cut. In cases like these, our immune system jumps into action by sending in white blood cells, bombarding invading bacteria so that we can recover and go back to normal.

Your immune system is the most complex system in your body. It not only defends you, but it remembers every battle it’s ever fought so it can recognize repeated threats and avoid wasting time on harmless ones. Its purpose is to restore balance to an unbalanced body, and once it’s done its job, it should settle down to its normal vigilant state to await the next crisis.

Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens. Our immune systems have a darker side.

Habits of Disease put our immune systems on alert. When you eat donuts and coffee for breakfast, a fatty cheeseburger for lunch, and a bowl of cream before bed, or when you carry extra fat around your middle, smoke cigarettes, and don’t exercise, your immune system trickles inflammatory molecules into your blood in quantities so small they can only be detected by a special test. Your body recognizes that these choices are harming you, even if the harm from each individual choice is incredibly small in isolation, and your immune system reacts to defend you.

Unnoticed and unchecked, these inflammatory biochemicals have a sinister effect on blood vessels, joints, brain health, and other critical systems. Over time, they can contribute to cancer, strokes, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Not only are most of us unaware that inflammation works this way, but we often don’t really notice the strain small amounts of inflammation put on our health over time. If we twisted our ankle and saw the swelling–an acute form of inflammation–we notice, but less obvious inflammation is like a river gradually eroding a riverbank.

We might notice it while it’s happening, but eventually, the problem becomes too big to ignore, and by then, it may be too late.

The good news: Every MacroHabit of Health helps you to win this battle against inflammation. From what we eat to how we move to how we manage stress–Every choice you make can quiet your immune system and lower the amount of inflammation in your body.

All of this sounds like a lot of gloom and doom, but that’s not the point. The more important takeaway is that when you understand how inflammation works, you can more clearly see how powerful each of your choices can be. 

Every choice you make can move you toward longevity by helping to lower your inflammation. 

Every choice! 

That’s a big reward for choices that can seem small, and that thinking might help you reframe the benefits of the habits you’re building.