According to the Mayo Clinic, 90% of the illnesses they deal with are caused by lifestyle, while only 10% are congenital. These are illnesses we have all come to accept as just a part of life, aging, and luck; demential, diabetes, and cancer to name a few. But now, more than ever, we are realizing that there is something familiar, yet very misunderstood at root of those lifestyle illnesses: inflammation. Specifically, chronic inflammation.
Acute Vs. Chronic Inflammation
Acute inflammation is the body’s immune and repair response to an injury or a harmful substance or invader entering our body. Low-grade chronic inflammation is the result of an imbalance in our immune function due to ongoing stress or lifestyle choices that keep our immune system working overtime. Research is showing us that balanced health measures that prioritize regular movement (through a variety of exercises), an anti-inflammatory fiber-rich diet, deep regular 7-9 hr sleep, and stress-reducing activities like meditation coupled with trauma resolution therapy, counter chronic inflammation and reduce the likelihood of contracting these and other diseases.
Chronic Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke (and its contribution to dementia), and cancer. These conditions include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, abnormal negative cholesterol levels, and chronic inflammation from an overactive immune system. Metabolic syndrome, obesity (over 30% body fat), and type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) are interconnected. All 3 are linked by genetic markers, overeating an unhealthy diet, and lack of consistent movement/exercise… as well as a chronic state of inflammation in the body. Most of us think that fat cells are inert storage containers, however, newer research has shown that belly fat is metabolically active and produces pro-inflammatory substances that contribute to insulin resistance. It’s confusing, but chronic low-grade inflammation has been identified as both a cause and consequence of metabolic syndrome!
Chronic Inflammation and Cancer
When infections, autoimmune responses, or conditions such as obesity go unchecked the ensuing inflammation can promote the growth and replication of cancer cells. Type 2 diabetes (from insulin resistance) is associated with a higher risk of liver, pancreas, ovary, lung, bladder, and breast cancers. According to Harvard Health reports, chronic inflammation and high blood sugar levels also contribute to the general development of cancer cells through the damage to cellular DNA and the creation of an environment hospitable to cancer growth. An estimated 1 in 5 cancer cases stem from a combination of excess fat stores, inactivity, poor nutrition, excess alcohol use, and unresolved stressors.
Chronic Inflammation and Dementia
Dementia including Alzheimer’s, like heart disease, has its root cause in plaque build up in arteries and between neurons. Research still isn’t clear about what is behind these protein deposits, but what we know is the protein plaque deposits in brain tissue and cardiac arteries initiate an immune response. Microglia and white blood cells will attempt to eradicate the plaque, but it isn’t as easy to destroy as viruses or harmful bacteria. Cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals are released in a long-held effort which amps up the immune system creating more chronic inflammation. Research is also seeing how chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, atherosclerotic heart disease, and diabetes have been linked to an increased risk for depression! Recent findings suggest inflammation may increase depression risk by suppressing the birth of new brain cells (neurogenesis).
Though there are many ongoing experiments and tests utilizing medications like anti-inflammatories to help turn off an over-functioning immune system and lower chronic inflammation, the safest and most effective approach is to focus on lifestyle interventions like diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep depth, and detoxification.
What is Mountain Trek?
Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out below: