What Causes Inflammation in the Body?

Reviewed on 5/14/2021
Inflammation is a part of the body's defense mechanism.
Inflammation is a part of the body's defense mechanism.

Inflammation is a part of the body's defense mechanism. It is a process through which the immune system recognizes and fights against harmful infections and makes toxins to protect the body. However, long-term infection is not beneficial to the body. Chronic inflammation lasts for several months or years in response to the stimuli inside or outside the body. Chronic inflammation may persist even after the first trigger is gone.

The white blood cells accumulate in the body tissues and secrete chemicals that may eventually damage the tissues. The extent and effects of chronic inflammation depend on the cause of the injury and the body’s ability to repair and overcome the damage.

Risk factors of chronic inflammation

A range of factors may increase the risk of chronic inflammation, such as

The intake of the following foods can increase inflammation. Limit or avoid their consumption.

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta and pastries
  • Fried foods
  • Highly processed foods
  • Red meat
  • Processed meat, such as hot dogs and sausage
  • Soda and fruit juices with added sugars
  • Unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats

Complications of chronic inflammation

When a person has chronic inflammation, the body’s inflammatory response can eventually start damaging healthy cells, tissues and organs. Over time, this can damage DNA, cause tissue death and thicken and scar tissues.

Chronic inflammation may increase the risk of several serious diseases, including

How to prevent chronic inflammation

The risk of chronic inflammation could be reduced by

  • Maintaining healthy body weight.
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
  • Regularly exercising.
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol.
  • Reducing stress levels.

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References
Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/

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