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Understanding Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s immune, self-protective and healing response to harmful stimuli, irritants, pathogens and damaged cells. Most inflammation is acute, such as when you sprain your ankle. Symptoms of inflammation include swelling, redness, pain and (sometimes) impaired movement or function.

Acute inflammation targets the damaged area and mobilizes immune cells to promote healing. It usually lasts a few days and ends as healing proceeds. Other causes of acute inflammation include burns, chemical irritants, physical injury, foreign bodies (such as dust and environmental debris), scratches and cuts.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can last months or even years (Chung et al. 2010). In some cases the body is unable to resolve what caused the initial acute inflammation. In other cases, the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue, mistaking it for something harmful. As humans grow older, chronic systemic inflammation may have degenerative effects that can result in chronic diseases, dementia, atherosclerosis, cancer and osteoporosis (Chung et al. 2010).

To read more about this topic, please see “You May Live Longer Eating a Mediterranean Diet” in the online IDEA Library or in the March 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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