In my last post I shared the top 10 common signs of chronic inflammation. Let’s dive into where exactly that inflammation can come from.
We’re familiar with sources of acute, or localized inflammation. They range from splinters and stepping on sharp rocks, to injuries and disease. Thankfully with those sources our bodies typically heal and everything goes back to normal. Yet there are times when the source of inflammation isn’t so easily remedied because we are constantly being exposed to it – sometimes unknowingly. So what are some common sources of chronic inflammation?
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1: Our food
Thanks to modern technology, most of our food we purchase these days is pre-packaged and processed. Take a moment and think about your local grocery store. Roughly what percentage of food does *not* come in a box or plastic wrapping? You’re pretty much limited to the produce section and parts of the deli.
During the processing, what were once whole foods are added with preservatives, additives, fillers, and coloration to make the food last longer on the shelf, “taste better,” and even look better. Our bodies are not meant to digest these chemical compounds. This leads to chronic inflammation as long as we keep on putting these food stuffs into our bodies.
2: Our Beauty Products
While we don’t use arsenic or lead in our beauty products any more, many of the chemical compounds that are used in today’s products are not fully tested in humans. In fact, there’s chemical compounds that are known to cause inflammatory symptoms and yet they’re still used in today’s products.
This is a big reason why I’ve switched to safer and organic beauty products. Between Erth Minerals and Beautycounter, I have all of my beauty products covered from makeup to skin care. What we put *on* our body is equally as important as what put *in* our body.
3: Our Cleaning Products
Have you read the label of your cleaning products? Many of them state you need to use them in a well ventilated area, some you need to use gloves in order to use them, while others still suggest you rinse with water after use. While they may clean the surfaces, what do you think they’re doing to your body?
Many of these products are full of irritants. When used daily or improperly we risk a lot of inflammation to various organ systems. Sometimes we need the “big guns” when it comes to cleaning, but often more gentle cleaners is all we really need. Also, we don’t need to sanitize everything like we once believed, either.
4: Lawn Care
How many of you regularly add fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to your lawn? What are these additives supposed to do? The first adds essential minerals and chemical compounds that support plant growth. The second adds chemical compounds that do a variety of things to insects and other invertebrates to kill them. The third does the same, but targets fast-growing plants that we’ve deemed obnoxious. After application we are told not to walk on the lawn. Why?
So we don’t track that stuff inside the house or irritate our skin if we go barefoot. While many of these products won’t directly harm us, they do cause irritation. That irritation activates the immune system. If not removed promptly, or with repeated exposure, leads to chronic inflammation and many of the symptoms listed in my earlier post.
5: City Living
This one isn’t always in the forefront of our minds. Yet where we live plays a huge part in our exposure to inflammatory compounds. With city living, you are constantly exposed to the smog and exhaust from the cars, trucks, and busses that clog the streets. There really is no getting away from it unless you go high or out. Have you ever seen pictures of Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory? You can clearly see the thick layer of smog that covers the downtown area. You’re breathing that in when you live or travel downtown.
Country living isn’t always safe either, but you’re more limited to when farmers are spraying their crops with the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that I highlighted in point number 4. At least that’s an acute exposure versus a chronic exposure.
When we are overly stressed, our bodies are put into a flight or fight alert. The hormones involved in this stimulate some areas of the body while shutting down others in preparation for a battle or for retreat. We’re only meant to have this response as a reaction to immediate danger. However, our bodies have not evolved as quickly as we have progressed. The stresses from our daily lives put our bodies in this fight or flight state thanks to traffic, deadlines at work, challenging coworkers, mounting bills, and even family drama.
Without effective ways to reduce your stress, our bodies are constantly looking for that predator to disengage. Without that disengagement, our bodies aren’t able to relax. We are not meant to be in that constant state of stress, leading to chronic inflammation due to the hormones involved in the stress response.
All is not lost! With simple changes we can reduce our exposure to these 6 common sources of inflammation. Take your time. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. By looking at being better today instead of being better tomorrow or next week will take the pressure off and increase your chances of successfully making lasting changes.
What is one source of inflammation you can change today?