Inflammation seems to be one of the hottest health topics today. And for good reason, too, because the condition appears to be at the root of a variety of diseases. Information regarding its health effects keeps coming fast and furiously from a variety of sources.

So, what does this mean for you?

The first thing you need to know is the difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation is how the body reacts to an injury or an infection, such as a cut or a broken bone. Scabbing and swelling are examples of what happens during acute inflammation, which is normal and healthy.

Chronic inflammation is another story. It occurs when inflammation persists, and the dilated blood vessels and hyped-up immune system become the body's new norm. However, not only is it not part of the normal healing process, research indicates that it may be at the very core of chronic diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. There are even studies showing that inflammation plays a part in heart disease, clogged arteries, gum disease, stroke and cancer, but the jury is still out.

Much more research needs to be conducted before we definitively know the role that chronic inflammation plays in our health.

Until then, here are my top recommendations for combating chronic inflammation:

  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Lose excess weight through a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet of whole and nutritious foods
  • Get a yearly physical, including blood work

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!