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Acute vs Chronic Inflammation

09 January, 2015
healing process, immune system

Inflammation has commonly been known to be part of the body’s healthy response to injury and infection, but recent research suggests that it may also be the root cause of many diseases and may even accelerate the ageing process in the average person.

Acute inflammation is a healthy response which serves to protect and repair the body from something damaging, whether that be an infection in a cut or a strained muscle. Evidence of acute inflammation can be seen in scabbing, redness, pus, and swelling.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is not part of the body’s natural healing process. Chronic inflammation is a condition where dilated blood vessels and a hyped up immune system become the new norm. The human body isn’t designed to cope with this unfocused immune activity, and eventually chronic inflammation will cause organ damage. White blood cells usually protect the body from disease, but the unchecked white cell activity of chronic inflammation can make you more prone to non-infectious conditions such as cancer.

Conditions including asthma, allergies, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders have a clear inflammatory component, but studies indicate that chronic inflammation may also be at the root of several other diseases. Chronic inflammation is thought to play a role in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and the visible signs of ageing. Please email if you would like further information on chronic disease management and mental health programs with CBHS.

Scientists aren’t sure how chronic inflammation affects our health, but high inflammation markers are a risk factor for most of the common diseases of ageing. Our diet and lifestyle can make our bodies over-produce inflammatory chemicals. Knowing the triggers and weapons against chronic inflammation can encourage us to adjust our lifestyles for better health. 

Acute inflammation, Chronic 

Triggers for chronic inflammation

Being overweight

When you put on a few extra kilos, bulging fat cells send out a distress signal to your immune system. Over time, the immune response makes healthy cells resistant to insulin, which can lead to diabetes. Excess white blood cells can start to leak into the bloodstream, eventually affecting your liver.

High glycemic index foods

A recent Australian study found that inflammation markers are significantly higher within three hours of eating high glycemic index foods. This is why it’s recommended that those with diabetes or insulin resistance go on a low-glycemic diet, which cuts out foods with white flour, high-sugar items, and starchy vegetables.


Anxiety has also been linked to inflammation. Social stress activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain, which leads to an inflammatory response. People with long-term anxiety or depression experience regular spikes in inflammatory activity.  


Smoking, or breathing in second-hand smoke, encourages an inflammatory response. Often the immune system overcompensates for the intake of these toxins, which can mean that the white blood cells - rather than healing the damaged tissue - work on the offensive. This increases the risk of lung cancer.

Air pollution

Air pollution can encourage inflammation and contribute to insulin resistance. 

fight inflammation, insulin

How do you fight inflammation?

Eat more fish

Studies indicate that foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can be useful in cutting back the immune response. You can meet your Omega-3 fatty acid requirements by eating fish twice a week, or if you don’t like fish then you should have fish oil tablets regularly.

Eat your veggies

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is one of the best ways to avoid chronic inflammation. Vegetables are full of anti inflammatory nutrients, including magnesium, carotenoids, antioxidants and lycopene. Grapes also include the chemical resveratrol, which is known to discourage inflammation. This is why a glass of red wine a day is said to be helpful.

Exercise regularly

Regardless of your weight, regular exercise can help prevent chronic inflammation. Preliminary studies indicate that 40 to 50 minutes of moderate exercise on most days can reduce inflammation and significantly lower cancer risk.


People with anxiety or depression can lower their inflammation markers simply by getting treatment, but lowering stress of any kind is going to lower your risk of inflammation. Most people will also enjoy other health benefits by reducing their stress levels a bit.


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