It is important to realize that chronic inflammation often leads to chronic illnesses and health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and immune-mediated conditions. In fact, inflammation plays a significant role in seven of the top 10 leading causes of death.1
Inflammation is a normal part of your body’s response to the environment to protect you from foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. However, chronic, long-term inflammation increases your risks for devastating health conditions that may change the way you live or may even lead to death.
Many times, inflammation starts in your gut. Your intestines are a large and complex organ designed to pass nutrients to your body and gather waste to pass from your body. What you eat has a considerable effect on the permeability of your intestinal walls and how much waste or toxins may leak into your body. This leakage is a substantial driving force in the development of chronic inflammation.
The degree of permeability is in direct proportion to chemical mediators inside your intestines and in your bloodstream, in real time. This means that you can affect permeability immediately with the choices you make. However, repeated damage reduces the ability of the intestines to respond properly.
Eventually this may lead to impaired absorption of nutrients and overburden your immune system. Inflammation also has an effect on your brain. Recent research has found those with inflammatory markers in their 50s experienced a reduction in the size of their brain 24 years later.2
Inflammation May Lead to Reduced Brain Volume
This study provides more evidence that systemic inflammation may have lifelong effects on your health. The researchers took blood samples from a large, biracial community and analyzed five inflammatory markers at the start of the study and then again 24 years later. Those markers included levels of fibrinogen, albumin, white cell count, factor VIII and von Willebrand factor.3
Using these levels, the researchers created a composite score they could compare against other participant scores and MRI images taken at the conclusion of the study. The participants were divided into three groups based on the level of their inflammatory markers.4When the group with three or more elevated biomarkers was compared against the group without any elevations, they found the group with higher inflammation experienced a 5 percent reduction in brain volume.5
Brain areas with reduced volume were in the hippocampus and other areas associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Those with higher levels of inflammation also performed poorer on a memory test given to the participants.6
Lead study author Keenan Walker, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said the effect of one standard deviation increase in inflammation, appeared to correlate to having a copy of the gene that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s diseaseand was associated with a decrease in size of 110 cubic millimeters of the hippocampus.