There are any number of popular movies and stories wherein the hero or heroine has to face danger and desperately wants a weapon for defense. What would James Bond do without his government toys? What would MacGyver do without duct tape? So too, our bodies need to defend themselves against the many troubles we are up against: bacteria, viruses, injuries, parasites, tumors, and all kinds of other villains.
Lucky for us, our bodies are amazing and we have highly specialized means to defend ourselves against each of these onslaughts. Of course, these defenses work much better when our bodies are healthy.
Inflammation is key to our body’s defenses
Inflammation is how living body tissues respond to injuries. When under control, inflammation does an amazing job of promoting healing by creating conditions in which healing can occur efficiently. Inflammation is awesome.
In the short term.
But inflammation can get out of control
However, inflammation that has become excessive, out of balance and out of control becomes a problem. Such inflammation becomes damaging and disease-promoting when it becomes chronic.
That is to say, when our bodies are under a constant onslaught of stress whether it’s from bacteria, cell damage, excess hormones, or whatever, the body becomes chronically inflamed in its attempt to fix these problems.
If you think about the effects of eating fast food every day, and what that does to your gut and brain, you can see why a body can develop chronic inflammation. It’s as if every morning you ask someone to punch you in the nose. Pretty soon you see a red, swollen nose all the time. It becomes your constant.
But the good news is that, just as you can stop asking someone to punch you in the nose every day, you can also work to stop chronic inflammation. You can change lifestyle patterns that contribute to this kind of inflammation.
Young adults and inflammation
I see a number of young adults in my practice who are just learning about how to take care of their bodies. Unfortunately, their youth gets in the way. Because their bodies are young and resilient, they can handle much more abuse than anyone who is much older. A 20 year old can pound hamburgers and a shake, down a soda and some chips and then stay up until one a.m. without significant suffering the next morning. If I did that, I’d be a mess for two or three days. Young bodies don’t tell as much truth about the damage done by poor eating and sleeping as older ones. As a result, young people often don’t understand how important good nutrition and healthy sleeping are, because they don’t suffer the consequences of poor sleep and poor nutrition with as much pain as those same unhealthy behaviors will cause them later in life. So youth understandably develop poor habits because, thanks to their inherent youthful resilience, they can. Then suddenly they turn 30 or 40 and their bodies slam into the brick wall of “See? See? You can’t get away with this anymore. Welcome to the pain, my friend.”