systemic inflammation

Inflammation: The Sand Castle Analogy

systemic inflammation

Recent studies are pointing to chronic, systemic inflammation (CSI) as the major cause of chronic diseases. Chronic diseases include, but are not limited to, heart disease, stroke, and cancers. Autoimmune diseases, heart attacks, thyroid conditions, lupus, diabetes, and even “genetic” conditions fall into this group.Have you ever considered why you may know someone who has Type II Diabetes, but their siblings don’t? Their excuse may be “it runs in my family.” With epigenetics we find common links to common diseases. However, the body is more complex than that. Someone may claim that predisposition (increased likelihood of contracting the common disease based upon common genes), but there needs to be a trigger to activate these genes. If the genes are not activated, the body does not respond by allowing the disease process to occur. Now that we’ve laid out epigenetics in response to chronic diseases, let’s talk about the most common trigger: chronic, systemic inflammation (CSI).

CSI is a state in which the body is in constant stress. It is influenced by a number of factors, most importantly: exercise, diet, and toxins ingested. Exercise eliminates deleterious effects of sedentary lifestyle. Next, everything we put into our mouth affects the body. There are foods/supplements that promote health, just as there are foods/supplements that diminish health. Out of the foods and toxins that diminish health, a majority of them cause systemic inflammation. With constant consumption of these foods, the systemic inflammation becomes chronic.
Let’s break this down. Chronic means a long period of time, usually longer than one month. Systemic means wide-spread, throughout your body. Inflammation is a process the body uses repair itself. If it’s a healing process, why is it so bad for the body to be in this state? In CSI, the body is stuck in the initial cycle, like a scratched CD (do you remember that thing that used exist before your mp3 player?). It’s a constant repeat of irritation leading to an increase in the immune response (inflammation) without allowing the second phase of the process to begin.

Picture building a sand castle too close to the water. The castle is your body, the water is inflammation, and you are the immune system. Initially, you have that perfect castle. But wait, the tide is coming in. Initially it may bump the sand castle and, while the tide is low, you can repair the castle as good as new. As time goes on, the body is getting increased amounts of irritation, much like the tide coming in. Eventually you are unable to repair the castle (body) as the wave (inflammation) strikes it and the castle will not be able to be fully repaired. This varies on a large scale of how close your castle is to the water, or how often you are exposed to those irritants to the immune system.With that being said, let’s touch on some of the foods that we eat everyday that have been linked to promote CSI.

Before we mention these foods, and I cannot stress this enough: check out It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. This book thoroughly explores both sides: health promoting and health diminishing foods. Also, it includes easy to understand explanations for the processes in the body affected by food. Finally, they include a 30 day challenge to clean up your diet and improve your health. The beginning of each chapter has quotes from success stories of individuals trying the Whole30 challenge which helps grab your attention. Alright, now for some foods that we eat everyday that deteriorate our health:

  • Sugars, sweeteners, and alcohol
  • Seed oils
    – canola – corn
    – peanut – safflower
    – soybean – sesame
    – sunflower – etc.
  • Grains
    – flour – breads
    – wheat – oats
    – cereals
  • Legumes
    – beans – peas
    – lentils – peanuts

Please remember this list is not all-inclusive and is a brief review of food groups that appear to promote CSI. It Starts With Food heavily breaks everything down in simple terms and lays out an excellent 30 day program to help you avoid the majority of these food to promote a healthy lifestyle. Once again, It Starts With Food should definitely be a book on your conquered checklist and is a great book to keep on your bookshelf to reference and review from time to time after implementing the Whole30 program. For any additional information regarding dietary changes, please feel free to check out and once again, check out It Starts With Food. For those individuals in the Pottsville area in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania looking to make a change in diet, feel free to talk to Dr. Brandon Aucker at Revive Chiropractic.

Sources: Hartwig D, Hartwig M. It Starts With Food. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.; 2012.