The inflammatory response is how your immune system recognises and defends itself against invasions from foreign proteins, viruses, fungi, bacteria, indigestible particles or exposures to toxins and chemicals. The word ‘inflammation’ comes from the Latin word “inflammo”, meaning “I ignite”.
Blood vessels near the site of the inflammation dilate, increasing blood flow to the area. Gaps appear in the cell walls surrounding the infected area, allowing the larger cells of the blood (white blood cells or immune cells) to pass through. The increased blood flow allows the different cells that make up the immune system to congregate in force around the affected area and go to work. They will not leave until the job is done.
Ideally, the inflammatory response should only last for as long as the infection exists. Once the infection is gone, the immunity cells move out of the area and everything should all go back to normal. Acute inflammation is short-lived, lasting only a few days. If the problem cannot be fixed and the inflammation continues, it is called to as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation may last weeks, months, or years. The problem with chronic inflammation is sometimes the inflammatory response causes more inflammation. It becomes a vicious circle that not only harms the surrounding tissue, but also results in longer exposure to the carcinogens associated with the inflammation which means a higher the risk of DNA mutations that lead to cancer cells forming and other diseases.
Our diet plays a massive role in the strength of our immune system and how it behaves. It also has the ability to reduce chronic inflammation. So you can think of the food you eat as the weapons and fuel your army needs to keep the carcinogenic baddies at bay and your body running smoothly. By eating the right things you will keep your immune system well-nourished and supported, and it will be able to provide the defence you need to stay healthy.