Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 2.51.09 PMChronic inflammation (CI) is a silent killer. Inflammation itself is not a bad thing- the opposite, in fact.  It’s the body’s natural response to remove whatever is causing an injury and to begin the healing process. This process is called acute inflammation. But when it becomes chronic, when the body has to fight off injurious stimuli nonstop, it can cause the body and the immune system to weaken over time. And this is the major health crisis.

When someone is stressed by injury, viruses or bacteria, the immune system kicks off many responses designed to protect the body, destroy the invader and repair tissue.  When these responses remain elevated, they no longer serve a protective function but can cause damage to healthy tissue.

Recent studies show that CI is a leading cause of many diseases in North America, including:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease

And the costs can be massive: a report from Canadian Business said that the potential costs of diseases that stem from CI will be almost $300 billion globally, with 60% of all global deaths resulting from non-communicable diseases. It’s also expected to rise by 17% in 2015.

CI has had some startling affects here in Canada. Today, more than 1.7 million Canadians live with diabetes; more than five million of us deal with hay fever, one of the highest rates in the world, and in the United States, the prevalence of hay fever has jumped 100% in the past 3 decades; allergies now rank 6th among chronic illnesses; 10% of children are now affected with allergic dermatitis, three times more than in 1960; and more than 2.5 million Canadians have asthma.

Many diseases, once considered signs of aging, are now associated with CI. Many factors that have to do with poor diet increase CI: being overweight, stress, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, long-term infections, and gum disease. Others, like a family history of heart disease, cannot be controlled.

So what can we do? The good news is that change is easy. There are many dietary and supplementary changes we can make, and lifestyle habits we can change. Talk to you doctor about it and take control.

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Steven Spriensma is a journalist and former news editor at Ignite News. He has a degree in Geography from McMaster University and an advanced diploma in journalism from Mohawk College.

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