Chronic inflammation can be frustrating, tiring, and even debilitating.

​​Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s immune response. It is part of the body’s healing process and is a way of fighting off infections, toxins, and injuries. However, the immune system can sometimes be triggered for the wrong reasons, which can cause systemic problems. Chronic inflammation results in the damage of healthy cells, tissues, and organs.

Symptoms of chronic inflammation include digestive issues such as leaky gut syndrome, joint pain and stiffness, headaches and migraines, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, mood disorders, and more.

Chronic inflammation has even been linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, globally, diseases related to chronic inflammation account for 50% of deaths annually.

Learn how chronic inflammation affects the entire body here

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

In order to combat chronic inflammation, it is important to address the cause. Below are some of the most common contributors to chronic inflammation:


Diet is one of the most common causes of inflammation. Certain foods such as dairy, gluten, and refined sugar can cause an immune reaction, triggering an inflammatory response. Inflammation due to diet typically starts in the gut and can cause problems with the gut lining, which can lead to a host of other issues.

The gut is protected by a single layer of cells maintained by proteins called tight junctions. When working as intended, tight junctions allow micronutrients to pass between the GI tract and bloodstream while keeping larger harmful substances contained within the gut to be safely expelled later.

Chronic inflammation can lead to the breakage of these tight junctions, making them overly permeable and allowing partially digested foods, toxins, bacteria, pathogens, and harmful particulates to pass from the gut and into the bloodstream. This is called leaky gut syndrome.

Underlying Infection

An underlying infection such as Lyme disease can cause systemic inflammation throughout the body. In the case of Lyme disease, once the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium is in the body, it evades the immune system by hiding from immune cells. The immune system then wrongly attacks its own body and releases toxic compounds in the fight. These toxins cause inflammation everywhere in the body and damage tissues in essentially every organ in the body. This chronic inflammation is responsible for a significant amount of symptoms associated with Lyme disease.

Autoimmune Disorder

Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Graves’ disease are frequently linked to chronic inflammation. Autoimmune disease is characterized by immune cells falsely identifying healthy cells as foreign and consequently attacking them.

Thus, similarly to Lyme disease, the misdirected attack of immune cells can lead to inflammation throughout the body. However, the specific symptoms may vary slightly depending on the autoimmune disease.


According to scientific research, obesity is linked to chronic, systemic inflammation. This is because overeating leads to an increased immune response, which wrongly triggers excessive and unnecessary inflammation throughout the body. Specifically, metaflammation, which is the metabolic inflammatory state associated with obesity, has been shown to directly contributes to insulin resistancemetabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes.

Substance Use

Frequent or overuse of substances such as alcohol and cigarettes can promote inflammation. Alcohol (due to its sugar content) can fuel the growth of certain bacteria in the gut that can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome. This can lead to an increase in endotoxins, which activate the proteins and immune cells that result in inflammation.

Smoking is linked to an increase in white blood cells that trigger inflammation.

Taking on Chronic Inflammation

1. Start with Diet

Food is great fuel for healing the body from the inside out and should be one of the top priorities when dealing with chronic inflammation. Consequently, it is important to avoid inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, processed foods, and dairy. It is equally vital to fuel your body with healing and detoxing foods.

Ingredients to Add to Your Anti-Inflammatory Salad

Ingredients to Add to Your Detox Smoothie

Please note that when dealing with symptoms of chronic inflammation it is best to avoid partaking in the use of substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

2. Relax and Recharge

Stress can worsen and even cause chronic inflammation. Despite hectic routines and uncontrollable factors that will inevitably trigger a stress response such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, and others, it is important to take time to relax and recharge your body.

Resources on how to de-stress and the importance of it below:

5 Effects of Stress on the Mind and Body + 10 Tips to Reduce Stress

The Mental Health Day You Deserve

3. Exercise Regularly

Experts suggest exercising regularly in order to prevent inflammation. Making time for just 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise paired with 10-25 minutes of either weight or resistance training four to five times a week is sufficient to combat inflammation when practiced regularly.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight and Blood Pressure

High blood pressure and excess weight are both linked to inflammation and can worsen the symptoms associated with chronic inflammation.

Every body is different, but working towards a healthy weight for you and monitoring blood pressure levels can be an effective method of combating inflammation.

5. See a Trusted Doctor

Discussing your symptoms of chronic inflammation with an experienced doctor and developing a treatment plan is recommended (especially when dealing with an underlying condition or infection).

Working with a doctor who understands your individual case in order to improve your quality of life takes the guesswork out of battling your symptoms.

If you are battling chronic inflammation and feel like you are not getting the help you need, contact Holtorf Medical Group today. Our team of experienced doctors specializes in not just treating your symptoms, but finding and addressing the root cause.

Book an appointment today.

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