• Eric Hughes

Why Inflammation Is GOOD For You!

We take Advil and Ibuprofen like it's going out of style. It has essentially become the adult version of the Flintstone Gummy Vitamins. If I were to ask someone why they were taking these pills, they'd look at me like I was dumb. "It's because I'm in pain, stupid."

I feel like we've been reinforced through this "inflammation paradigm," where inflammation is the enemy, and we must avoid it like the plague.

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How to STOP Inflammation in its tracks.

Inflammation is the ROOT CAUSE of most diseases.

The list of clickbait news articles goes on and on. Apparently our bodies are constantly submerged within hellfire and burning up from the inside out.

The thing is, we need to first understand what is inflammation and why it is occurring. And it is crazy to think that I had to first hear it within Naturopathic Medical School, because it is so simple!

Inflammation is the body's innate ability to heal itself. When the body is exposed to an external stressor, it responds accordingly. That's pretty much it.

Let's take, for example, someone who is newly introduced to weightlifting. They lift weights, and over the next couple days, their muscles are sore. Depending on how much they lifted that day, they probably have a hard time moving around (honestly, I think it's hilarious... but that's the CrossFit/gym bro coming out in me). But what happens next? The soreness goes away, and by the next time they get back to the gym and perform the same movements, they are likely a little bit stronger, faster, etc.

So what's going on here?

  • The body is exposed to an external stimulus (in this case mechanical/physical)

  • Micro-tears occur in the working muscles

  • The body responds with an inflammatory cascade

  • The micro-tears heal, and the body becomes more resilient.

Again, it is that simple.

Now, what happens if we stop that inflammatory cascade? Well, everything occurs but the healing response.

  • The body is exposed to an external stimulus

  • Micro-tears occur in the working muscles

  • Anti-Inflammatory OTCs are taken because you are in pain

  • Micro-tears never heal, you continue working out.

We continue to break tissues down, and never build them back up. Now over the course of weeks, months, and years of using your dear old Advil, you can see how this leads to degeneration of joints, subsequent chronic pain, and subsequent surgery.

"Yeah Eric, but I'm still in pain. And if I'm in pain, then I'm going to use the one thing that get's me out of it."

Yes, I 100% agree. You ought to continue playing, performing, and living out your role in society without limitation. (That being said, maybe we also need to re-establish our relationship with pain as well, huh?)

I understand that I am overgeneralizing quite a bit in this blog post, mostly speaking in the realm of sports and physical medicine. Fortunately, there are a number of things that we can do foundationally to support the inflammation process, rather than stop it. In the realm of athletics this means recovery.

That being said, I'm going to leave you here until the next blog post, where we dive into these exact foundations!

In the mean time, watch my last-minute soapbox video below that covers this very topic!

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