June 15, 2021

4 Root Causes of Chronic Inflammation

4 Root Causes of Chronic Inflammation

No matter your health and wellness goals, chances are they’re linked to inflammation. Or really, chronic inflammation.

Inflammation is a classic case of “too much of a good thing.”

Yes, inflammation can be a good thing! It’s a vital part of the body’s natural healing process.

But there’s a big difference between acute and chronic inflammation. 

Acute inflammation is your body’s natural way of protecting itself when you’re injured or sick.

For example, when you get a cut on your finger, the surrounding area will inflame and trigger an immune response: blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to the area, white blood cells are released to attack foreign invaders like bacteria, and the finger swells to cushion and protect the damaged tissue. After this immune response is complete, anti-inflammatory chemicals move in to bring everything back to normal.

But whereas a cut leads to acute inflammation that serves an immediate need and gets turned off when all is complete, chronic inflammation never quite gets turned off. Your immune system is always on high alert.

This chronic, sustained inflammation is linked to an increased risk of most diseases and ailments, from estrogen dominance and PCOS to autoimmune diabetes and cancer.

Related: Estrogen Dominance…6 Root Causes That Are Easy to Miss

Related: 7 Reasons You’re Struggling to Lose Weight

So no matter your health and wellness goals, you’ll benefit from calming chronic inflammation. 

But unfortunately, you can’t simply turmeric or fish oil your way out of inflammation! You need to address the root causes of inflammation first.

4 Root Causes of Chronic Inflammation


The food we eat can either help to calm inflammation or add fuel to the internal fire.

Some of the most inflammatory foods include:

  • Sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • “Vegetable” oils, including canola oil
  • Hydrogenated oils and trans fats
  • Wheat and other gluten-containing grains (barley, rye and triticale)
  • Alcohol
  • Conventional animal products

Does your diet currently include any of these pro-inflammatory foods? If yes, it’s time for an upgrade! 

Start cutting back on these foods — slowly at first, if need be (there’s nothing wrong with baby steps!) — and focus instead on a nutrient-dense, real food diet. Bright colored fruits, vegetables, and spices are especially rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. Even well raised animal products (grass fed, pasture raised) are included in a good anti-inflammatory diet.

Beyond pro-inflammatory foods, food intolerances are another source of chronic inflammation. So to calm inflammation and for overall health, it’s critical to remove foods to which you are intolerant from your diet… at least for a period of time. Whereas most food allergies last a lifetime, an impaired gut barrier (“leaky gut”) is the cause of many food intolerances, and many intolerances can even be overcome by properly healing the gut. 


Not only are digestive issues uncomfortable, but they’re a significant source of chronic inflammation as well.

Related: Common Causes of Stomach Bloating + 5 First Steps to Beat the Bloat

“Leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability is a particularly significant and common cause of chronic inflammation. “Known as ‘leaky gut’, a compromised epithelial barrier allows toxins and antigens in the GI lumen to enter the bloodstream.” (Source) The body then launches an immune attack on these toxins, accompanied by inflammation.

Research has also found that certain strains of unhealthy bacteria and pathogens in the gut microbiome release toxins that trigger an inflammatory response, whereas beneficial bacteria create anti-inflammatory compounds. This is why a healthy balance of gut microbiota is so incredibly essential for healthy digestion and a healthy body as a whole.

Since digestive issues can be quite complex, we use a comprehensive diagnostic test like the GI Map to guide the process with all of our clients.


Heavy metals, mold, and environmental toxins are all a significant source of chronic stress and inflammation in the body.

First and foremost, it’s important to identify if and how you are being exposed to these toxins, and then take the necessary steps to remove the exposure.

Then, supporting your body’s natural detox pathways with tools like dry body brushing and castor oil packs will help ensure your body is effectively detoxing and removing these toxins.

Since heavy metals bioaccumulate in the body, however, and so aren’t detoxed as easily as other toxins, they require a particular approach. Heavy metal detox is complex and should always be done under the care of a practitioner that knows what they are doing. We use the HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis) test with our clients, which you can learn more about here: Functional Lab Testing Menu.


Stress, including negative thought patterns deeply ingrained as a result of trauma, is a major source of chronic inflammation on the body.

Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate all of our stressors. This is why it’s equally important to build stress-management skills and make stress reduction a key feature of your daily wellness routine. 

I enjoy and often recommend meditation apps like Headspace and Calm, though stress reduction looks different for everyone. For you, it may be reading for an hour before bed, taking a relaxing walk during your lunch break, snuggling with a pet, or practicing a hobby. Whatever it is, do more of it! If necessary, add it to your schedule / calendar so it doesn’t get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list and forgotten.

So what do you think? Any of these 4 root causes of chronic inflammation surprise you? Could chronic inflammation underlie any symptoms you’re currently working to address? What small steps can you take today to start calming the fire?


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As a Registered Dietitian and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, my team and I help clients get proper testing, assist in the process of reading those results using clinical correlation (treating the patient and not just the test results), and give them the proper tools (diet, supplements, and lifestyle) to start the healing process.

Any questions? Please let us know in the comments below so we can keep the conversation going and support you in your healing journey!

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