Protecting yourself from inflammation may be the single most important thing you do to protect your overall health including your brain health. You may ask, “is this really possible?” And how do you do that? But first, let’s look at what inflammation really is.
What is inflammation
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Inflammation, in general, is the body’s immune system activated in response to a stimulus, or a trigger. Inflammation happens when the body fights off something that may be harmful. It is the reaction of the body when it senses an irritant, dead cells, or pathogens.
It is through the process of inflammation that the body fights invaders such as viruses, bacteria foreign objects and even cleanses out dead or malfunctioned cells. Your body is a marvel. It is made to heal itself, duly equipped with an immune system that sends out messages as soon as an invader is detected, and yes, it is able to detect and even prepare ahead of time for these invasions. This is done through both the innate and the adaptive immune systems.
We are born with this amazing ability to fight pathogens, and injuries through the innate and the adaptive immune systems. We have the innate immune system at birth. But the adaptive immune system is just that, adaptive. It works like this; As we get exposed to different invaders, such as viruses or bacteria, we develop our adaptive immune system through antigen recognition.
This process never ceases to amaze me- the antigen recognition is genius! These amazing specialized white blood cells have the ability to recognize, keep a record of the invaders the body has been exposed to and develop the weaponry directed to specific antigens.
This is so clever it’s hilarious. I can just visualize these little cells taking notes, and filing them in the immune weaponry files. That is just amazing, I think. So next time a particular bacteria attack you if your immune system has ever encountered it, it remembers and has the immune warfare ready, and that starts with inflammation.
You may recognize inflammation when you have an injured limb for example. When you stub your toe and it gets red and swell and is painful and you have trouble using the injured limb, this is inflammation at work.
Inflammation can be acute or chronic
The process of acute inflammation.
Granulocytes and macrophages (these are types of white blood cells) are the first responders to areas of injury. Their response includes release chemicals that kill the invaders. And emit protein messengers called cytokines which are chemical messengers that carry out many processes.
Your cells release chemicals when they are in distress to alert the immune system, “Hey we are under attack. send some help”
The process I have just described is the acute inflammation, the good kind that we need to heal from injuries or infections.
Chronic inflammation is the bad inflammation. This can be silent and signs not always easy to recognize.
Sometimes, acute inflammation goes wrong, lingering too long, or fails to stop after the work is done. Sometimes it misfires and causes chronic inflammation.
The trigger for this chronic inflammation is not always clear. It may be due to such situations such as stress, allergens, lack of sleep and even medications, or lifestyle choices, such as choices of certain foods.
In this era of fast foods and excess sugar and excess stressful, living, many, indeed most people have inflammation just lurking under the surface.
Inflammation is an epidemic in these modern times. There are many people who are inflamed, Are you carrying some extra, ten pounds?
Then, it is likely you have inflammation already setting in. The truth is inflammation and weight gain go hand in hand. The twain do co-exist as Inflammation can make it difficult to lose weight.
Fat tissue can produce cytokines, inflammatory chemicals, which in turn attract other inflammatory cells, and as obesity grows, many cells also get crushed causing more dead cells and more macrophages coming to clean the mess and more inflammatory proteins are produced.Inflammation may influence premature aging, skin diseases, cancer, periodontal diseases diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, and even gout, COPD.
Unfortunately, when inflammation is triggered, in obesity, it becomes even harder to lose weight. Why? Because certain inflammatory protein markers release makes it difficult to lose weight. Compounding the matter is the hunger triggers that happen and slowed metabolism that makes it hard to lose weight. This ultimately becomes a metabolic loop leading to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and weight gain and guess what? More inflammation.
And since obesity and inflammation go hand in hand most times, this can be a marker or signal of short life expectancy. Research shows obesity can reduce life by as much as 20 years. Twenty years! Thats are whopping lotta years.
According to the British Journal of Nutrition, low-grade inflammation is a characteristic of the obese state, and that obese people tend to have more circulating inflammatory markers than lean people because the adipose tissue tends to produce inflammatory chemicals as well. These inflammatory markers are also believed to play a role in insulin resistance and other metabolic issues, compounding the problem of inflammation.
Uncontrolled inflammation takes part in almost every disease including Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes cardiac disease, and even asthma, not to mention all those well know inflammation diseases, such as arthritis, anything ending with itis, such as dermatitis, colitis, gastritis, and others. Even some nervous system illnesses such as MS, Lupus, and Fibromyalgia. These are all inflammatory conditions.
Inflammation affects every body’s process including bone health, interfering with remodeling and increased bone loss leading to osteoporosis. This article explains well how bone loss happens in relation to endocrine disease in inflammatory conditions.
Now I know we all want to lose weight so we can have that figure and look good in clothes, but Can you even imagine that losing weight may actually help your skin? Yup! If you have psoriasis and are overweight, there may be a relationship. Losing weight may help your skin get clear.
Diseases due to inflammation
- Alzheimer’s disease; Research is extensive that shows there may be a relation between neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory response
- Kidney failure
- COPD and asthma are inflammatory diseases.: inflammation in the lungs, including emphysema and bronchitis; these cause fluid collection in the lungs and constriction of the airways; which are exacerbated by polluted environments including smoking.
- Heart disease
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Depression: According to research components of the immune system that mediates inflammation may be intimately involved with depression
- Periodontitis gum disease is an inflammatory disease which also causes problems elsewhere, including causing heart disease and even
dementia. Apparently, this bacteria can travel out of the mouth to other areas such as the brain and cause inflammation there.
This list is by no means exhaustive.
Signs of acute inflammations include
- Inability to use the affected part
Signs of Chronic Inflammation
- Bloating/stomach pain
- Acid reflux
- Weight gain
- Fatigue chronic
- Joint pain
- Generalized aches and pains
- Chest pain
- Brain fog
- some skin issues such as rash– eg eczema, psoriasis
- Mood issues due to neurotransmitters imbalances
- Inflammation gone bad may also cause mental illness.
Internal organs, however, may not show all these symptoms, and these signs are usually found in organs that have nerve connections.
Aches and pains are signs of inflammation in muscles joints, caused by immune cells and fat cells producing inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines. This causes a heightened
- pain response.
Some of these signs can last for months and years, and the level of severity ranges from mild to severe
Additionally, the Chronic inflammation when silent can cause brain fog, and you may think “oh this is just normal aging”, no, Its inflammation. Inflammation can make one feel old before their time, making joints ache, muscle aches, wreaking havoc in your nervous system for as well, causing problems such as MS, depression anxiety even Alzheimers.
You are more likely to suffer inflammation if you have diabetes, are older, eat lots of saturated fats, eat lots of sugar or are a shift worker. Keeping the vigil of night shift one is likely not to sleep enough, or have short sleep or have sleep disruptions and disturbance. Disturbed sleep causes a lot of health problems.
Related article: The Secret To Better and Improved Sleep
What causes chronic inflammation?
There are many causes.
Inflammation can be caused by lifestyle or environmental factors, such as being overweight, alcohol consumptions, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, pollution, even poor self-care such as bad oral health. It can also be caused by effects of chemicals or radiation if one is exposed to these.
Some diseases also cause inflammation eg cystitis, bronchitis, otitis media, dermatitis. But note that in these there may be an infection, or coming into contact with an irritant that starts the inflammation.
We are exposed to too much inflammation today than our ancestors ever were. Something like two million toxins a day! Not to scare you or anything, but toxins are all around us. From our beauty products to the air we breathe, household chemicals and worse if we smoke, or are exposed to second-hand smoke, just for example.
Food and life choices
The Western standard diet is full of inflammatory substances such as excess sugar in many foods, chemicals, additives, preservatives, eating cured, processed meats gluten in some grains, and artificial sweeteners, for example.
Some studies attribute the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases to western lifestyles, and environments such as dietary habits, environmental surroundings, and poisoned habitats or pollution exposure. infectious habitats and stress load (Source
Diet and lifestyle choices can either lower or increase inflammation. And, isn’t that really, a good thing? I think it is because that means we may to a degree be able to affect our own wellness and ability to prevent inflammation and therefore illness. Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that improving diet quality is associated with decreased TNF alfa R-2, and found that chronic inflammation is associated with obesity, morbidity, and mortality.
Some of the things that we eat as food should not have that name. Highly processed food, food with lots of sugar such as donuts- so good to eat but so bad. And most likely fried with transfats or oils with linoleic acids, the omega six bad for you oils. Use of diet drinks which perhaps are worse than drinking the sugary ones. They are all, bad. Artificial sugars have up to ten thousand toxic molecules in their ingredients ( source)
So what’s wrong with high sugar high-fat diets? High sugar diets cause hyperglycemia which induces both postprandial and chronic low-grade inflammation. There are exaggerated numbers of inflammatory markers following the consumption of a meal and these are higher in obesity, and even more so if the meal contains AGE- advanced glycation end products in foods such as grilled meats. Markers of inflammation are reduced, however, if the meal contains some antioxidants foods. Including meals rich in vitamins C and E, and carotenoids even in inflammation causing food eases inflammation.
Sleep deprivation causes inflammation, per article, sleep is important for immunologic memory and is involved in other inflammatory homeostatic functions. Even a single night of restricted sleep to four hours led to increased production of inflammatory markers such as IL-6, TNF-alfa TNA by monocytes ( source). It can be expected that chronic restricted sleep would lead to chronic inflammation. Researchers also think that during sleep loss there is a change in the stress response may lead to this inflammatory response.
Even our thoughts can lead to inflammation
How now you ask?
Stress causes inflammation. Research is showing that psychological stress can trigger significant inflammatory activity, and changes that lead to changed behavior including initiation of depressive behaviors such as anhedonia, sad mood, fatigue, psychomotor retardation, and social behavioral withdrawal.
Interestingly, the proinflammatory condition is also regulated by processes happening in the brain. The neural inflammatory response gives the body time to prepare for anticipated injury and trafficking of immune cells to areas of anticipated injury. How? The immune cells listen to chemical signals indicating an increased risk of being in contact with a wild animal, warfare etc.
Research shows that this same innate immune response can be activated today when an individual senses a social threat such as social conflict, isolation, rejection, or exclusion, perhaps because the situations had adverse outcomes historically(source)
The social adversity is turned into a pro-inflammatory response in two ways: one through the sympathetic central nervous system and the other is the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, the stress hormone pathway.
The sympathetic nervous system (the fight or fright) regulates inflammation by the release of norepinephrine into tissues which then modulates transcription of immune response genes. Chronically that just sustains inflammation, causing many chronic diseases.
Adverse social conditions may upregulate inflammatory gene expression via stress-related neural and endocrine signals that induce per cell change in gene transcription research states.
Chronic stress leads to overproduction of cortisol and immune suppression leading to prolonged inflammation study showed.
being in a stressful environment can even lead to gene changes with an overproduction of cells that cause inflammation such as monocytes and an increase of inflammatory markers such as IL-6, TNF.
Inflammation can cause chronic diseases such as
- Rheumatoid arthritis (Source)
- Crohn’s and UC are inflammatory diseases that can and go on for years in varying degrees of severity.
Foods that cause inflammation
Certain diets can cause or lower inflammation. Research is showing that a Mediterranean diet, a diet containing whole grains, fruits vegetables and good fats such as olive oil can be anti-inflammatory and protective against many inflammatory diseases.
- Fried food
- Processed foods
- Saturated Fats
- Trans fats
- Linoleic acid-omega 6 oil such as highly processed canola oil, and corn oil.
How to Manage and prevent inflammation
Let’s not despair. With smart diet and lifestyle changes, you may be able to improve the condition even stop further inflammation. There are some ways to avoid and even lessen inflammation. And that, my friend, is good news because after what we now know we have a lot against us in modern times.
Truly, it is like living in a jungle with wild ferocious animals, only this modern jungle is full of animals that just kill us slowly in prolonged agony like that in chronic joint diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, fibromyalgia, and even cancer. So this is the plan of action to avoid or beat inflammation.
- Exercise: I know you don’t need to be reminded of this. You already know that exercise is good for you.
- Eat natural God-given foods, not man manufactured junk. Those who produce bad foods are not really looking out for anyone but their bottom line. So eating antioxidants rich foods found in some plants and fruits can put out the fires that are scorching whole body systems.
- Meditate, a calm mind helps you your health, in many ways including less stress hormone, and even better sleep, all of which we have seen helps curb inflammation.
- Do yoga. This will curb excessive stress and curb inflammation
- Journal. This is another way to stay calm and curb excessive stress or lack of sleep.
If you would like to learn more about inflammation here is a resource you can use.
What exactly should you eat?
Eating a vegetarian diet may be healthier and prevent inflammatory diseases such as heart disease. Research is showing that long-term vegetarians have less inflammatory markers and a better antioxidant profile that meat consumers. It can be expected that vegetarians, in general, do eat more vegetables that are rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals. For example, spinach is rich in antioxidants like Vitamin beta carotenes A and E. Great for curbing inflammation.
So using antioxidants found in some plants and fruits can douse the fires that are scorching whole body systems. Here are some great foods keep inflammation down.
Garlic is great for treating inflammation. This study found that a compound in garlic, thiacremonone, a sulfur compound exerted anti-inflammatory effects
2. Peppers- bell peppers and hot peppers
They contain a compound called capsaicin that is anti-inflammatory. Research shows that capsaicin suppresses obesity-induced inflammatory response, by modulating adipokine release, and macrophages behavior stopping macrophage migration ( these are cells that are present in inflammation, the soldiers of the inflammatory wars)and activation to release proinflammatory mediators. Adipokines(an inflammatory substance produced by fat cells) are behind the complications of obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, an inflammatory condition.
With its richness in curcumin has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for treatment as an anti-inflammation agent, for digestive disorders and for wound healing for centuries. Several clinical trials have demonstrated curcumin has antiinflammation, antioxidant, and antineoplastic effects (source)
Curcumin is currently at the spotlight of anti-inflammatory healing. However not all curcumin preparations are created equal, so if you buy as a supplement, you need the best as curcumin can be difficult to absorb. Fresh is best if you can find it, and include black pepper when you prepare. It massively improves absorption. Here are some guidelines that can help you know what to look for in a supplement. This particular one is great for calming many inflammation-related problems.
Research has shown that cinnamon has antioxidant properties. And in fact, was used since ancient times for treatment of many ailments including bronchitis, and is used today for GI, problems, appetite enhancement, and even blood sugar control in diabetes. This article delves into various healing properties of cinnamon, including reducing myelin degeneration in MS and cinnamon was found to have anti-inflammatory effects in the central nervous system
5. Fatty fish such as salmon
Mackerel, salmon, and sardines are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. They have many health benefits, including DNA protection and repair. These oils curb or prevent inflammation if we eat these foods often enough. Two three times a week is recommended.
Omega three rich food per several studies, including this one, have shown the importance of omega 3 in inflammation prevention. An article in the Journal of clinical nutrition shows that omega 3 fatty acids help decrease inflammatory eicosanoids, cytokines, and reactive oxygen species, all inflammatory markers.
If you are not into fish you can get you OMega 3 s by eating other omega 3 rich foods such as flax seeds, chia seeds pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or use supplements such as fish oil. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts. These are great for a snack instead of reaching for those chips. Keep in mind to only eat a handful as they are high in fat if you are watching your waistline. You can add these seeds and nuts to smoothies and they make for a really nutritious smoothie too. You can also use them in salads.
6. Foods rich in fiber such as whole grains
Fiber cleans out toxic substances in the colon that can lead to inflammation as well as the ability to lower C Reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body. Eating natural foods will provide fiber, in items such as produce, vegetables, fruits, beans, grains such as oats, quinoa, and bulgar. Chia seeds are also great for cleaning the colon and preventing inflammation.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E which are both anti-inflammatory and can prevent joint damage from diseases such as in arthritis.
Avocados are also rich in tocopherols, carotenoids, polyphenols, which are anti-inflammatory antioxidants that were found to improve vascular health when eaten with inflammatory foods such as hamburgers. So adding avocado to your hamburger can cut the inflammatory effects of hamburgers.
Apparently, according to studies, hamburger meat forms lipid peroxidase during cooking and more of the same are formed after eating. Eating antioxidants rich foods with hamburger meat inhibited this process.
Herbs such as thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary are great not only in making food taste good but are great for inflammation too.
9. Green Tea
Green tea has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and research has shown that as a result, green tea has anti-cancer and cardioprotective. properties and Per research polyphenols in green tea have a chondroprotective effect, which protects joints by preventing cartilage degradation. In fact, studies have shown that green tea is an anti-inflammation powerhouse.
The EGCG in green tea protects against oxidative stress and prevents cellular DNA damage and oxidation of LDL, and that it savages free radicals, reduces nitric oxide radicals production, reduces production of proinflammatory cytokines and mediators. It is recommended for protection against heart disease whose causes are mainly due to oxidative stress and inflammation. So yes Id say drink up! Tea, that is.
You can get the benefits of green tea as antioxidant plus energy, and mental clarity from drinking matcha green tea. I love this one a lot
With their plentiful lycopene an antioxidant that becomes even more available with cooking. This study found that lycopene dramatically reduced inflammatory markers in obese persons.
Tomatoes are rich in rich in lycopene a carotenoid and antioxidant that has been shown to be protective against diseases including cancer in clinical trials. The impressive thing here is that lycopene has been shown to arrest cancer growth by selectively induce apoptosis in cancer cells without affecting normal cells, studies found. And what makes this even better is that cooking tomatoes in olive oil in this study greatly increased the bioavailability of lycopene, a win-win situation.
were found to reduce inflammatory markers in healthy humans with moderately elevated c reactive protein a marker of inflammation. This study found that the biomarkers of inflammation were greatly reduced by the end of the study in cherry consumption.
Per research, cherries contain polyphenols and antioxidants producing antioxidants, anticancer, anti-inflammation effects. Research also shows that eating tart cherries, can reduce the development of metabolic syndrome, and prevent diabetes. This effect was attributed to the anthocyanins in tart cherries. It was found that tart cherries consumption was associated with reduced hyperlipidemia and decreased inflammatory markers
such as IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor.
12. Strawberries Berries
A 6 weeks research study found that eating strawberries consistently lowered after meal elevation of inflammatory markers that lead to atherosclerotic heart disease. Strawberries and many berries contain polyphenols and antioxidants.
Berries, research found inhibited digestive enzymes that cause high blood sugar after meals, so leading to better blood sugar control.
Blueberries have been found to have a protective effect against oxidation after a high carb meal this shows likely due to phenolic compounds in This study The anthocyanins and resveratrol in blueberries are anti-inflammatory, and blueberries are rich in vitamin C another antioxidant. Blueberries were found to be protective against MI in a study that followed 93600 nurses for 18 years.
Blueberries may help in cancer treatment. According to research published in NIH, an antioxidant flavonoid in blueberries called myricetin was found to induce cancer cells to die and reduced markers of Pi3 kinase activity was seen, as well as tumor regression and decreased metastatic activity. And another study found that Myrectin also improved diabetes by improving carbohydrate metabolism.
Blueberries consumption was found to decrease post-exercise inflammation, and markedly increase in natural killer cells was observed in this study.
14. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables
Studies show that these vegetables are beneficial in heart health and are also anti-cancer (source)
Research in The London Journal of inflammation found that compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, have anti-inflammatory effects and specify that this kind of diet can be protective against diseases such as Crohn’s disease which worsened or improved depending on the diet.
Sulforaphane, an antioxidant found in veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts is powerful against oxidative stress. This compound induces many cytoprotective proteins including the Nrf-2 antioxidant response element pathway. Nrf-2 is the bodies own innate defense system of antioxidants, which pretty amazing. If you would like to learn more about Nrf-2 the newly discovered fountain of youth, you can find more information here.
This in effect leads to antioxidant cytoprotection against oxidative stress that leads to diseases such as focal cerebral ischemia, brain inflammation intercerebral hemorrhage, acute renal failure due to ischemia, and also a protective effect against various cells, such as neuroblastoma cells, aortic smooth muscle cells, and even some renal tubule cells. ( Source)
Broccoli was found to have a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect per research
15. Dark Chocolate
Cocoa has anti-inflammation properties and protects against many gastrointestinal, cardiac and nervous conditions. Some of these antioxidant properties have to do with tryptophan breakdown. So when cocoa stops this, it means not only reduced inflammation but also better mood as increased tryptophan means increased serotonin and a better mood.
You know there is a wave of information where Marijuana as an alternative medicine is concerned. Research is still ongoing. Cannabinoids unlike marijuana do not cause a high but have been shown to have efficacy in treating many conditions, including many due to inflammation. per this article Cannabinoids can help stop inflammation by dysregulating cytokines production by immune cells and disrupting the immune response and stopping inflammation activity of various immune cells that lead to inflammation of various organs such as the brain, the Gi system, the liver even prevent allergic asthma, a condition caused by airway hypersensitivity
Cannabinoids stop inflammation through cell death of activated GT cells, and by suppression of cytokines and chemokines.
Cannabinoids have been shown in research to prevent initiation of disease processes such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, hepatitis, and Ms.
Cannabinoids may be useful in the prevention of cancers initiated by the immune response, studies show. In some cases, cannabinoids can prevent certain cancers that are triggered by the immune response, by either suppressing tumor growth, or suppressing inflammation and tumor angiogenesis.
Cannabinoid oil is sounding more and more amazing as research continues to show it a great benefit.
Those are the simple yet powerful ways to calm the fires of inflammation that are chronically scorching so many people, and they end up overweight, live with chronic aches and pains. While research is still ongoing, it is clear that the modern man and woman is exposed to so many unnatural substances that we take for granted but they are making us sick.
‘This list is by no means exhaustive. There is a lot of good natural foods that we can eat to keep the fires of inflammation down.
Tell me in the comments below any other ways or foods you could add to fight the scourge of inflammation and improve health. Let’s learn and thrive in health together please I would love it if you shared this post.
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