The word inflammation comes from Latin inflammo or ‘I set alight.’ I have written extensively about inflammation; it’s dangers and what you can do to prevent or protect. But what is inflammation exactly? Ordinarily, inflammation is the process of the body healing itself. Imagine you just knocked yourself against a table. Your cells will rush to the spot where you hurt yourself. The area will swell and turn red. It may be painful.The pain and swelling is an indication of your body sending an army of cells to heal. The cells will surround the area in a protective sheath. If you use medication or even ice, it could be counter-productive as it may slow down the healing process. Without inflammation, wounds would never heal. So why does our body go from healing to causing a significant disease? The problem lies in something being too much of a good thing. Unchecked, inflammation can become self-perpetuating and get out of control.

Imagine a virus invades your body. Your body produces cytokines. One such early cytokine is called the tumour necrosis factor alpha TNF-A. TNF-A induces white blood cells to flood the area and cause a natural antiviral response. Within seconds, this causes cell death. However, every once in a while this process does not stop. Especially if you are unhealthy, smoke, lead a unhealthy lifestyle and sometimes otherwise, the inflammation keeps spreading like a runaway train, causing more cell death. Experts tell you that most inflammations originate in the gut. For example, an imbalance of bacteria and fungi causes a condition called dysbiosis which causes your autoimmune system to overreact.

The common indicators of inflammation in your body include acid reflux, arthritis, bronchitis, chronic pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, among others. Long term, this leads to significant diseases such as cancer or organ malfunction. The fascinating fact? These are lifestyles diseases. In ordinary English, this means it is often preventable.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.