The Silent Killer

Deann Zampelli, Health Coach, M.A., HWC
4 min readApr 26, 2024


Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash

A few years ago, my athletic prowess and inherent grace caused me to tear a few ligaments in my ankle by falling UP the stairs of my home. Anyone can fall down a set of stairs, but you need to be very special to do it in reverse. Following months of resting, healing, wearing a boot, etc. I ended up needing surgery. While the surgery was a success, my ankle has never quite been the same. Which is why, after wearing heels for a few hours the other night, my ankle looked like it had a tennis ball-sized barnacle attached to it. But my body was just doing its job by creating its own protective little bubble of fluid and white blood cells. This automatic process causes pain; the pain and the swelling protect the site from further injury. This is the remarkable system known as inflammation.

So, then what’s all the buzz about? Isn’t inflammation just our body’s natural process of coming to the rescue? Isn’t it the superhero of science? Or, is it why after eating pasta the night before my yoga pants can feel like the death grip of a python?

You guessed right; it is both. Inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury, this is known as acute inflammation, it does its work and then takes off for St. Barth’s or wherever the chic spot for inflammatory response is these days. Chronic inflammation, however, doesn’t ever go on holiday and there are many potential reasons why; obesity, poor diet, stress, smoking, environmental triggers like pollution, exposure to toxins, inactivity and much more.

Chronic inflammation is getting a lot of ink these days and rightfully so as it is known to be at the root of serious health conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers and autoimmune diseases like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Inflammation can present itself in many forms. Body aches, weight gain/loss, acid reflux, depression and even insomnia. And according to the NIH, chronic inflammation is a contributing factor in more than half of the deaths worldwide. More than half of deaths worldwide? Just to clarify, this doesn’t mean inflammation causes these deaths, it just means that if left unchecked, it can contribute to long-term health issues. The reasons are as complicated as the human body itself, but the bottom line seems to be that it can damage otherwise healthy cells which can lead to tissue and organ damage. (Note to self, why did I decide to write about this again?)

And while the philosophies of Eastern and Western medicine don’t always align, it seems they agree that chronic inflammation is best reigned in as soon as possible. According to Mariko Horie, Master Acupuncturist and Owner of Santa Barbara Herb Clinic, “From a Chinese medicine perspective, a smooth flow of Qi and Blood is vital to your health. When things are not flowing smoothly within your body, it can cause all sorts of ailments physically, mentally, and emotionally. Stagnation can cause pain, inflammation, blood clots, tumors, cramps, etc.”

Reducing inflammation is almost as prevalent in the media as inflammation itself. There are anti-inflammatory diets (what to eat and what not to eat), supplements (curcumin, green tea, fish oil), exercises (yoga, swimming, resistance training), abstaining from alcohol, eliminating sugar, medications (such as corticosteroids and NSAIDS), and the list goes on. According to Harvard Health however, “…one of the best ways to reduce inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator.” That’s right. It seems that by just starting with a few lifestyle modifications, you can significantly reduce your overall inflammation load. Like so many things in life, the most intelligent answer is often the simplest.

A key tenet of my health coaching practice involves supporting clients in making lasting changes by breaking down a goal into manageable steps. Reducing inflammation could begin with adding in some anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, nuts, ginger, turmeric, and beans. Taking something away is often harder than adding something new, so this would be a good first step. But if really want to prevail over puff, removing red and processed meats from your diet would also move you further in the right direction.

Seek advice from your health practitioner, but if you are suffering from inflammation, it is best to address it sooner rather than later.

Let’s keep our Qi flowing smoothly and our puffers confined to the Patagonia variety shall we?