Inflammation is a normal function of the human body, the immune system’s first reaction to a perceived danger. However, when inflammation occurs too often, it represents a grave health threat.
A number of lifestyle choices can increase a person’s risk of chronic systemic inflammation. They include smoking, a diet high in sugar and trans fats, and excessive alcohol consumption.
What Is Inflammation?
When the immune system initiates inflammation, it sends inflammatory cells to the part of the body where it senses a problem (1). Soon, proteins and antibodies travel to that area as well, and the level of blood flow to the region increases. This process could take hours or, in cases of acute inflammation, days.
Inflammation sometimes comes with external symptoms such as swelling of the skin, rashes, and redness. However, there might not be any visible signs of chronic internal inflammation. Even so, chronic inflammation often induces symptoms like fever, fatigue, and pain in the chest or stomach.
Chronic inflammation can cause lasting harm. It can damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs. It can be a contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and many other serious disorders. Chronic systemic inflammation can even lead to genetic mutations that result in cancerous tumors (2).
The Link Between Alcohol and Chronic Inflammation
How can consuming too much alcohol lead to whole body inflammation? Over time and in large quantities, alcohol can alter the lining of the intestines and the colon. Consequently, they become less capable of containing bacteria. Thus, some of the bacteria that live in those organs, a portion of which may be toxic, can seep into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.
Though not all of those microbes are necessarily harmful, the immune system will still view them all as a threat. Accordingly, it is likely to induce inflammation on a frequent basis.
Indeed, in 2010, researchers at the University of Porto published the results of a study that connected higher amounts of alcohol in the body to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) (3). The liver produces CRP, and it makes more of this protein whenever inflammation occurs. Thus, CRP is an inflammatory marker: The more CRP that’s present in the blood, the more a person has experienced inflammation.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
To avoid chronic inflammation, it’s important to set an alcohol limit.
But, people sometimes have trouble setting limits due to an addiction. We can help individuals overcome their chemical dependence on alcohol through a program of detoxification (5).
The center’s healthcare providers guide patients through their withdrawal symptoms with medication, counseling, group meetings, yoga, massage and an array of other tools. Personalized support is available 24 hours a day.
Once people have control over their alcohol intake, they may gain control over their chronic inflammation as well. The health benefits of this empowerment are truly profound.