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How Chronic Inflammation Affects the Entire Body

Holtorf Medical Group

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.

Below are potential causes of chronic inflammation and the ways chronic inflammation impacts critical bodily systems.

Potential Causes of Chronic Inflammation:

  • Chronic Stress
  • Diet high in gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and processed foods
  • Gut dysfunction i.e. leaky gut syndrome
  • Autoimmune conditions i.e. lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Chronic infections
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity

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Impact of Chronic Inflammation:

Gut Health

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

As a result of chronic inflammation and leaky gut syndrome, patients can develop food sensitivities, mood disorders, skin conditions, and more.

Brain Health

Inflammation in the brain is often due to an infection such as Lyme disease. Research shows that Lyme spirochetes can attack the brain and cause numerous problems. The spirochetes can damage nerve cells, release neurotoxins, disrupt the balance of chemicals in the brain, and trigger inflammation. There is also evidence that chronic stress and other issues that cause systematic strain can lead to inflammation in the brain. More specifically, studies show that inflammation caused by persistent stress can negatively impact the brain systems associated with motivation and mental agility. This is likely due to the fact that the brain’s hippocampus, which is critical for learning and memory, is particularly vulnerable to stress and inflammation.

Other symptoms of brain inflammation include: headaches, migraines, memory loss, brain fog, nausea, and more.

Heart Health

Chronic inflammation, even at low levels, can irritate blood vessels. Inflammation supports the narrowing of blood vessels and can contribute to the growth of plaque. This is dangerous due to the fact that when plaque becomes loose, it can cause a blood clot, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Being aware of your body’s inflammation is critical in regard to heart health as nearly half of Americans are estimated to have high blood pressure. Chronic inflammation worsens the effects of high blood pressure, which leads to the acceleration of the aging of the heart and blood vessels. This can result in atherosclerosis (plaque build-up) as well as a heart attack, stroke, heart disease, brain damage, eye problems, and kidney failure.

Final Thought

Inflammation may be a natural bodily response that is necessary in some cases, but long-term it can cause serious damage if left unaddressed. In many cases, chronic inflammation can be treated with diet and lifestyle changes such as an anti-inflammatory diet, supplementation, and prioritizing quality sleep. However, depending on the root cause of your inflammation, further treatment may be necessary.

If you are suffering from chronic inflammation and feel you are not getting the treatment you need, contact Holtorf Medical Group today. At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to properly diagnose and treat your condition, optimize your health, and improve your quality of life.


Holtorf Medical GroupThe Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease. We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.


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