I’ve shared numerous times in the past that inflammation is at the root of most, if not all, chronic disease. We know eating packaged, processed, fake foods increases inflammation as does using vegetable and seed oils, trans fats, gluten, sugar and high fructose corn syrup and processed meats.
However, here is something else that drives destructive inflammation that you may find surprising. Anxiety.
According to Dr. David Hanscom: “Anxiety is a physiological response to a threat. Your whole body is on fire. You need to decrease anxiety, decrease cytokines, decrease that stress response. If your body’s inflamed, you’re going to feel anxious.”
Every cell in the body has cytokines. The term “cytokine” is derived from a combination of two Greek words – “cyto” meaning cell and “kinos” meaning movement. Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma.
By reducing or resolving stress and anxiety, you lower levels of inflammatory cytokines. Not only does this allow your immune system to function better, it also relieves pain. Anxiety is a symptom of inflammation. Inflammation is a symptom of anxiety. Quite the vicious cycle. They are directly connected.
The antidote to anxiety is control. When you lose control, your body secretes more stress hormones, more cytokines, which trigger anger and anxiety. When you’re angry or stressed out, you’re in a constant state of threat. When you’re trapped by anything, especially chronic pain or even trapped in your house from COVID, you’re frustrated, which increases your inflammatory cytokines.
Your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is activated in response to threats, whereas your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) is activated through the relaxation response. As I detailed in this newsletter, the vagus nerve is the connection. The newsletter details simple ways to activate your vagus nerve, triggering the relaxation response.
Does it surprise you to learn that anxiety triggers inflammation in your body which can compromise your immune function?
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