Chronic low-grade and systemic inflammation

What it causes, what triggers it, how to monitor it and how to recover from it

Inflammation is a normal defence mechanism that protects the body from various insults and pathogens, as well as the tissue repair processes, and helps restore the physiology of infected or damaged sites. It is a mechanism, characterised by redness, swelling, heat and pain, that involves the interaction among multiple cells as well as the response by several chemical mediators (primarily by the immune system) and the autonomic response (anti-inflammatory cholinergic system, RMSSD - PPG Stress Flow - BioTekna). Self-regulation of the inflammatory response is necessary to stay healthy and maintain homeostasis.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can be caused by:

  • non-resolution of inflammatory processes; [1]
  • an increase in inflammatory markers as a result of lifestyle and/or physio-pathological changes, such as chronic stress, nutrition, ageing, epigenetics, changes in body composition and autonomic nervous system. [6] 

Figure 1: How body composition changes over time

While the existence of inflammatory diseases is widely recognised in scientific literature, the definition of chronic low-grade inflammation, especially in relation to chronic persistent stress, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disorders, is very recent. [2]
Chronic low-grade inflammation is characterised by high concentrations of inflammatory markers in the systemic circulation, that causes at the same time a systemic involvement and a sharp increase in capillary permeability. (PPG Stress Flow - BioTekna)
It has been shown that some processes such as chronic stress, a diet rich in simple sugars, saturated fats and industrially processed food (defined, for this reason, as “pro-inflammatory”), high levels of fat mass and/or infiltrated fat (FM, IMAT - BIA-ACC - BioTekna) and dysregulation of circadian biorhythms may not only keep an inflammatory process activated, but even exacerbate it (cortisol-HPA axis, Sympathetic Nervous System - BIA-ACCPPG Stress Flow - BioTekna).
At the same time, it has been shown that there are effective recovery methods. [3,4,5,6]
The use of some specific tools can help us identify which processes maintain or cause inflammatory processes, while many others such as nutrition, physical activity (especially HIIT), hydration and supplementation can be valuable allies in triggering a quick recovery so as to significantly improve the quality of life.
Chronic inflammatory processes are not identified by a specific symptom, but by various signs, some of which may be tiredness, fatigue, nausea, mood disorders, insomnia (Medically Unexplained Symptoms - MUS) or non-specific chronic pain. [7]
A negative PRAL diet (Clinical Nutrition - BioTekna Plus) following circadian rhythms, defined in scientific literature as “anti-inflammatory”, aiming at consuming functional food and following precise indications on the rhythmicity of glycaemic and insulinemic loads, is an important recovery tool.
Some supplements can accelerate the recovery processes with clear benefits for the body.
The use of high titrated EPA and DHA and Humulus Lupulus before each meal and negative PRAL L-arginine after dinner can be crucial for the body’s ability to modulate inflammation.

Authors: Dario Boschiero, Mariantonietta Lucafò - Date: 19/01/2021

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