Time magazine ran a cover story in February 2004 on cellular inflammation and another story on inflammation in April 2018. The New York Times had an article in the personal health section on December 23, 2019 titled “Tackling Inflammation to Fight Age-Related Ailments”. These articles reported that specialists in the biology of ageing, researchers and nutritionists all seem to agree that there are clear links between chronic inflammation and many chronic diseases, that chronic inflammation is the cause of most chronic diseases and it poses a major threat to health. The US FDA has even advised that claiming that a product may cure chronic inflammation may be synonymous to making a therapeutic claim.
Inflammation is the body’s immune response to injury or infection. It is an important component of innate immunity. Inflammation can be diagnosed as acute inflammation or chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation serves to protect and heal the body following physical injury and infection from disease causing bacteria, viruses and parasites and is a lifesaver. Most times the physical injury heals or the invading entity is destroyed, inflammation subsides and healing begins. The destruction of bacteria, viruses and parasites is accomplished via reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are basically oxygen free radicals. If excess free radicals remain after the healing process is complete chronic inflammation results and it signals that the immune system has not fully shut down its response to injury or infection. Chronic inflammation can last indefinitely. Age causes the regulation of people’s immune response to weaken resulting in elevated blood levels of inflammatory substances such as C-reactive protein and chemokines.
Researchers generally agree that chronic inflammation can progress slowly but is nevertheless the cause of most chronic diseases and threatens people’s health and longevity. Many universities have active research programs where scientists study the biology of ageing. There is general consensus that chronic inflammation is a major contributor to a wide range of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, mild cognitive impairment. In summary, chronic inflammation can compromise the health of virtually every bodily system. Chronic inflammation fundamentally means an excess of free radicals or ROS inside the cells. While ROS exist inside cells the damage continues and the result is chronic disease. Maintenance of healthy levels of antioxidants is essential to reduce the risk of being exposed to excess free radicals. The most ubiquitous antioxidant produced by cells is glutathione – which has existed as far back as aerobic life itself – almost 1.5 billion years. Glutathione is the body’s powerful weapon in the fight against both acute and chronic inflammation.