Health Advice



How chronic inflammation spreads like wildfire in your body

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

During the brutal wildfire season last year, California's Dixie fire laid waste to more than 192,000 acres. The Bootleg/Log fire in Oregon was even larger, covering more than 400,000 acres. Like those wildfires, inflammation in your body can spread, leaving scorched (well, damaged) tissue behind, say researchers in a new study in the journal Cell.

When the researchers looked at inflammatory conditions like gum disease, arthritis and heart disease, they found that they can ignite inflammation in other, seemingly unconnected, parts of your body. That's why people with gum disease often develop cardiovascular problems or arthritis, or those with arthritis are more likely to also end up with gum disease.

But how does that happen? It seems that your immune system -- when revved up by one of those inflammatory conditions -- gets turned on to such a degree that the newborns in your bone marrow's immune cell nursery are supercharged when they emerge and enter your bloodstream. Instead of battling outside invaders (bacteria and viruses), they become troublemakers -- causing inflammation in your cardiovascular system, joints, gums and elsewhere.

That's why chronic inflammation needs to be avoided -- or put out. To do that, you need a balance of enough (but not excessive) physical exercise, restful sleep, smart stress management and a diet loaded with colorful fruits and vegetables, omega-3-rich fish like salmon and 100% whole grains. Then your immune system can fight off potential disease and avoid becoming the cause of a bad fire season inside your body.



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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