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Inflammation: Friend or Foe?

Seems like everything in health news lately is all about the negative effects of inflammation. We know that it is the root of all chronic disease. So…it’s really bad right?

I would argue that in small amounts, inflammation can serve a positive purpose. It means our body is strong enough to communicate damage or pain throughout the body. This communication initiates the healing process and helps maintain balance. In cases of chronic digestive issues, for example, this communication system can actually shut down because the gut is so burnt out from trying so hard for so long to put out the “fire”. That happens when we ignore our symptoms and assume that diarrhea is “just normal for me,” or that IBS “run in my family” and so there is no solution. The takeaway message is that we have to LISTEN to our body when we experience symptoms of imbalance rather than ignore them and just hope they’ll go away.

I saw a quote the other day that said: “If you listen when your body whispers, then you won’t have to hear it scream.” So much truth! The traditional allopathic medical system (and to be honest our society’s culture as a whole) tells us to wait for overt clinical symptoms which interrupt our activities of daily living before we seek intervention or adjust our lifestyle. Society tells us to push further, go harder, do more. It’s an unsustainable lifestyle, but this increasingly fast pace seems to be the new norm. By the time we finally make time to address the growing issue(s), sometimes aggressive medical intervention such as medication or surgery is needed to find relief. Even then, the general concept behind these options is to simply suppress the body’s communication of imbalance NOT to fix it, let alone prevent future recurrence.

However, if we listen more immediately to how the body responds to stress, food, alcohol, sleep (or lack of), and exercise-- and make changes to honor what the body needs to function optimally-- the imbalance won’t tip so far as to overwhelm us with inflammation, pain, and stubborn weight gain. For example, my quicker-to-heal cases tend to be those who didn’t suffer long before they sought help from a functional practitioner. On the flip side, most of my toughest cases were people who self-treated (or ignored symptoms) for years before seeking outside help.

My point? Don’t wait! If you’re experiencing even mild symptoms, act now before it worsens. If you’re not sure where to start, invest in working with a knowledgeable practitioner who can guide the healing process more quickly than working on your own. I consider myself a “functional nutritionist.” A functional doctor, chiropractor, or naturopath could also help. The key is finding someone who will help you get to the root cause of your symptoms. Even I have a coach and other like-minded providers who help me keep my health in check. That’s not a sales pitch-just the truth!

So if you’ve been dealing with IBS, migraines, heavy periods, stubborn abdominal weight, or chronic fatigue—LISTEN to your body now and take action.

Rhya Pachin, MS, RDN, LDN, CLT

Owner/Dietitian Nutritionist

Carolina Functional Nutrition

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