Chronic Inflammation—The World on Fire

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

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Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Chronic Inflammation—The World on Fire

It may help you to think of chronic inflammation as you would a fire in an apartment building. Let’s say you live in a twenty-story apartment building, which represents your body. Then, a fire (inflammation) breaks out on the fifteenth floor, causing destruction (tissue damage) to the entire floor. But your penthouse apartment on the twentieth floor is fine. To put out the fire, you call in the firefighters (immune cells), which may cause a bit more damage by tearing down some walls and spraying water (cytokines, a substance secreted by immune system cells), all in an effort to solve the bigger problem of putting out the fire.

Let’s now say that the fifteenth floor is a complete loss, while other floors suffer some repairable damage (water damage on the fourteenth floor and smoke damage on the sixteenth floor). The repair process begins on all three floors, with carpenters, painters, and other “builders” brought in to repair the damage. On floors fourteen and sixteen, where the damage is less severe, the repair process might be complete within a few weeks, but on the fifteenth floor, where the fire was concentrated and the damage was most severe, the repair process may take a year.

Your body also has an entire team of “builder” cells in each and every tissue. In cartilage these “builders” are called chondrocytes, in bone they are called osteoblasts, in muscles they are myocytes, in skin and some other tissues they are fibroblasts—the list goes on and on.

In your own tissues, you can have the equivalent of a raging fire and a firefighting team (tissue damage and inflammation). But if you’re not able to shut off this process—that is, if your level of inflammation is thrown off by something—then your body is in a continual state of destruction and pain. You’ll never be able to get to the rebuilding and repair stages unless you can shut off this process of chronic inflammation.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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