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5 Scary Things Inflammation Does to Your Body

Listen, the effects of inflammation are no joke, but we’re not trying to freak you out.

The truth is that you can’t really get serious about eating, exercising, and sleeping well to tame inflammation until you understand the reality of how deep its influence goes.

Remember, there’s good inflammation, too. Acute inflammation is what happens when your body responds to a threat. Think about swelling and redness around a cut; that’s your body sending white blood cells to help with healing and fight infection. Or if you’re in a dangerous situation and the inflammatory response kicks in, it’ll deliver an adrenaline surge so you’ll have the strength or speed you need to get the hell out of there.

RELATED: How Inflammation Works, Explained

But we’re talking about the crappy kind that has unfortunately become so prevalent in modern life. The prolonged, chronic inflammation that never turns off because you’re constantly stressed, overworked, under-rested, and maybe made a few less-than-stellar food choices. Brush up on what causes it, here, and then browse these really good reasons to avoid it, below, before making a plan to finally take it seriously and banish it from your life.

RELATED: 7 Delicious Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat Daily

5 Scary Effects of Inflammation

1. It messes with your gut.

An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut can lead to inflammation, but the relationship also goes in the other direction. Overexcited immune system cells can attack the digestive tract, damaging the lining of the intestine and causing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a category of conditions that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

2. It can make it harder to lose (or maintain a healthy) weight.

Studies like this one have shown inflammation can lead to weight gain. That may be because chronic inflammation interferes with the hunger signals your body sends you and with metabolism regulation.

3. It’s linked to heart disease.

The exact link between chronic inflammation and heart disease is not completely understood, but one thing is clear: research shows high levels of some inflammatory markers are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

RELATED: 5 Heart Healthy Foods

4. It’s linked to cancer.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to increased risk of lung, pancreatic, colon, liver, and other cancers.

5. It affects your mental health.

Feeling blue? Inflammation is also linked to mental health issues like depression. There are many different reasons for that researchers are looking at, but one may stand out to you. You may have heard about the incredible connection between gut and brain health. Since inflammation affects the microbes in your gut, it makes sense that the effects would then make their way up to your brain.

You see, everything’s connected? And that leads to some good news, too. Just like inflammation wreaks havoc on so many body systems at once, healthy habits like upping your veggie intake, getting your sweat on, and meditating will do the same in a positive way.