Inflammation 101

Inflammation is a natural part of our body and how it responds to potential threats, but when your body has to keep responding this way, then it can spiral out of control and create really damaging, long-term health implications. Plus, more inflammation means your period is much more likely to be painful.

Here’s a good inflammation visualization: work-place stress. 

Your body on  acute Inflammation

Your body on acute Inflammation

Your boss gives you a really important project, so you have to drop things and work late to get it done. This is acute inflammation, or your body responding to a specific cut or infection (aka last minute, pants-on-fire project) that it needs to send the immune system to attack. The inflammation tells your immune system where to find the pesky bacteria in that cut on your finger, and it goes there to deal with it. Once your immune system has dealt with the problem, it knows how to deactivate the emergency response and everything goes back to normal.

In other words, you went into beastmode, got the project done and handed it in feeling good about it.

 
Your body on  chronic inflammation

Your body on chronic inflammation

Now, if every couple hours your boss hands you a new project, tells you to drop everything and go deal with it, pretty soon you are going to be completely frazzled, burnt out and have no idea what to do. This is chronic inflammation. The natural responses by your immune system to deal with new threats keep getting activated, but they aren’t sure how to respond or how to deactivate. This means they spiral in self-destructive feedback loop and instead of fighting off invaders, your body gets weaker and tissues are destroyed.

 

Your body is made up of trillions of cells that have to work together at every single moment.

Coordinating this, helping your body decide what and where to repair are all important functions of the immune system. And this is one reason that chronic inflammation has been linked to so many different diseases over the long run – everything from period pain, IBS, asthma, heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. We’re just beginning to understand all of the  complex interactions between our immune system and our food, environment, and microbiome – so this is a really active area of research with exciting new findings coming out all the time. 

Unfortunately, it seems that many aspects of our modern lifestyle are directly linked to increased levels of chronic inflammation and associated diseases.

For example, over the past hundred years rates of asthma and food allergies have increased to a truly shocking degree. There are a number of different reasons why we may be more vulnerable to chronic inflammation than our great-grandparents were.

  • Hygiene hypothesis:

    Our modern environments are far far cleaner and more sterile than they were even one hundred years ago, and we are much less likely to be exposed to lots of different kinds of bacteria when we are young. This does a couple different things: 1) makes our microbiomes (the trillions of microbes living in and on us) less diverse, 2) provides less training for our immune systems so it isn’t as good at telling which things are friendly (say peanuts) and which things are bad (evil bacteria). This confused immune system is more prone to chronic inflammation because it is overly vigilant and hypersensitive.

  • Food and diet:

    Over the past few hundred years our diets have changed dramatically. Everything from how we make it, to how it is grown, to what produce we eat, and these changes are linked to significant changes in chronic inflammation. Processed food is absorbed far faster leading to far-higher spikes in insulin, and eventually metabolic disorders and chronic inflammation. Plus, the lack of fiber makes it harder for the good bacteria to thrive in your gut, leading to higher inflammation levels. Also, the foods themselves have changed. Even things like eggs or beef are more inflammatory because the animal fats are different as a result of factory farming practices and the food we give animals.

  • Antibiotic usage

    Don’t get us wrong, antibiotics are wonderful and save countless lives every day, but they also affect the good microbes that live in us. Every time you use antibiotics it affects those microbes, and about 80% of all antibiotics are used for livestock, so you can even be absorbing some from your food. Not only have antibiotics been overused, but our changing diets mean we consume fewer probiotic and prebiotic foods to nourish our good bacteria than our great-grandparents did. All this means that our microbiome is much more dysfunctional and contribute to chronic inflammation.


Because increased chronic inflammation affects your entire body, it can worsen so many different ailments. The upside is that supporting your body by taking Semaine, taking time for some self-care, and helping your body as it works to resolve chronic inflammation can help you feel better in a bunch of different ways. That’s the philosophy underlying Semaine. We carefully selected different plant-based ingredients that support your immune system in different ways as it works to resolve inflammation and get back to normal.

Lauren Lee