Supplements for the Key Concerns in Staying Healthy
When your body encounters an offending agent (like viruses, bacteria or toxic chemicals) or suffers an injury, it activates your immune system. Your immune system sends out its first responders: inflammatory cells and cytokines (substances that stimulate more inflammatory cells).
These cells begin an inflammatory response to trap bacteria and other offending agents or start healing injured tissue. The result can be pain, swelling, bruising or redness. But inflammation also affects body systems you can’t see.
Chronic inflammation is involved in the disease process of many conditions, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Heart disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
- Type 2 diabetes.
The most common reasons for chronic inflammation include:
- Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, where your body attacks healthy tissue.
- Exposure to toxins, like pollution or industrial chemicals.
- Untreated acute inflammation, such as from an infection or injury.
Some lifestyle factors also contribute to inflammation in the body. You may be more likely to develop chronic inflammation if you:
- Drink alcohol in excess.
- Have a high body mass index (BMI) that falls within the ranges for obesity, unless that is a result of being very muscular.
- Exercise at your maximum intensity too frequently, or you don’t exercise enough.
- Experience chronic stress.
If you have chronic inflammation certain vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D) and supplements (zinc, fish oil) may reduce inflammation and enhance repair. Or you may use spices with anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric, ginger or garlic.
Some research shows that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have lower levels of inflammation in their bodies.
You may choose to eat more foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, such as:
- Oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon or sardines.
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale.
- Olive oil.
Eating too much of certain foods may increase inflammation. If you have chronic inflammation, you may feel better if you avoid:
- Fried foods, including many fast food items.
- Cured meats with nitrates, such as hot dogs.
- Highly refined oils and trans fats.
- Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, pastries or white bread.
How can I prevent inflammation?
You may decrease your risk of chronic inflammation by developing healthy lifestyle habits. Some of these habits include:
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Avoiding or quitting smoking.
- Exercising three to five times per week at least (daily exercise is best).
- Limiting your alcohol intake (maximum 2 ounces per day).
- Managing stress with healthy tools such as meditation or journaling.
|Foods that cause inflammation Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible: refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries French fries and other fried foods soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage) margarine, shortening, and lard|
The health risks of inflammatory foods
Not surprisingly, the same foods on an inflammation diet are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats.
“Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation,” Dr. Hu says. “It’s not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.”
Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation. Yet in several studies, even after researchers took obesity into account, the link between foods and inflammation remained, which suggests weight gain isn’t the sole driver. “Some of the food components or ingredients may have independent effects on inflammation over and above increased caloric intake,” Dr. Hu says.
|Anti-inflammatory foods An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods: tomatoes olive oil green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards nuts like almonds and walnuts fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges|
Benefits of anti-inflammatory foods
On the flip side are beverages and foods that reduce inflammation, and with it, chronic disease, says Dr. Hu. He notes in particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.
Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well.
To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.
A study in the May 2016 British Journal of Nutrition found that polyphenols from onions, turmeric, red grapes, and green tea lowered a marker for inflammation in the body. All types of berries also are rich in polyphenols, as are cherries and plums, as well as dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards.
Olive oil, flaxseed oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel offer healthy doses of omega-3 fatty acids, which have long been shown to reduce inflammation. Omega-3s may even lower levels in the brain. (See “Your brain on omega-3 fatty acids.”)
~ Heart & Vascular System
~ Oral Health
~ Brain & Neuroligical System
~ PH Balance