Top Tips to Reduce Inflammation
Annelies Grimshaw is a qualified clinical nutritionist at Key Nutrition with over 10 years’ experience in the health and fitness sectors in New Zealand. She is passionate about helping people see the value of eating nutritious food and incorporating small but impactful changes to their daily lifestyles. She talks about the topic of inflammation and top tips to reduce inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is said to be the root cause of all chronic disease and it has been proven that poor nutrient intake and unhealthy habits are associated with inflammation. Chronic inflammation can wreak havoc on all body systems including the digestive, immune, cardiovascular, respiratory and dermatological systems. Let’s start by gaining a better understanding about inflammation and then find out top tips to reduce inflammation.
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
Inflammation is the body’s innate response to protecting itself against injury, toxins or infection from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. In fact, not all inflammation is bad. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation can be termed as the ‘good’ type of inflammation as it is the body’s normal response to tissue damage and metabolic stress. For example, when we are injured or get hurt, our body’s defence system kicks in to protect us from further injury and aids in our recovery. Typically, symptoms can be immediate or quick and can last a few hours or days.
Chronic inflammation is considered the ‘bad’ type of inflammation. This occurs when inflammation processes continue to be generated throughout the body. This is often linked with long-term health conditions and can be identified by high levels of inflammatory markers in the blood (c-Reactive Proteins [CRP]). This build-up of inflammation can have the opposite effect of acute inflammation and may cause thickening of tissues and damage to our cells and DNA when left unaddressed / untreated. In some cases, immune function and inflammation can go wrong in the body and lead to chronic inflammatory conditions and auto-immune diseases. Other resulting health concerns include allergies, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
Common symptoms that accompany acute inflammation are redness, heat, swelling, pain and loss of function. These symptoms can also occur when there is chronic inflammation, but it can be slow to onset and last months to years. However, there can even be no immediate or obvious symptoms, which can be referred to as ‘silent’ inflammation’.
WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION?
There are varying causes that can instigate inflammation, but they range from diet, lifestyle factors, medication and environmental factors. One of the most common causes of inflammation in modern day living is from poor diet. The foods that we consume can increase inflammation, and thus we need to be mindful of what we’re eating and drinking in order to minimise this inflammatory response. Other risk factors that can lead to inflammation over time include obesity, smoking, pollutants and stress.
There are some common food culprits that can activate an inflammatory response. These include refined carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods and those high in transfats. Common inflammatory triggers are processed meats, soda and sugary foods. Nonetheless, all foods that raise insulin levels can initiate some level of inflammatory response. But it’s those foods that raise insulin in spikes (i.e. refined starches, sugar, and saturated and trans-fatty acids), which are more likely to keep the inflammatory response raised, and thereby make a person more susceptible to long-term disease. Studies have shown that it has become increasingly clear that inflammation strictly correlates with insulin resistance and increases the likelihood of metabolic syndrome. (Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that together raise your risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and is also referred to as insulin resistance syndrome.)
HOW CAN WE REDUCE INFLAMMATION?
Here are some tips to reduce inflammation in your everyday routine. Diet is one of the most influencing factors in altering inflammation within the body. There are several diet-related approaches that have been observed in research for lowering inflammation. These include the Mediterranean diet which is focused on high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil and fish. Another approach is eating a diet rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and micronutrients (also found in herbs & spices), which have been observed in studies to decrease inflammatory cytokine production. For example, carotenoids such as lycopene which can be found in fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon and carrots, has been found to reduce oxidative stress and suppress inflammation in the body.
Other factors to reduce inflammation include exercise. Current evidence supports that exercise, such as aerobic and resistance training, reduces chronic inflammation, especially in obese individuals with high levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Several studies have reported that this effect is independent of the exercise-induced weight loss. There are several mechanisms through which exercise reduces chronic inflammation including: its effect on muscle tissue to generate muscle-derived anti-inflammatory ‘myokine’, and its effect on the immune system to lower the number of pro-inflammatory cells and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine production per cell.
Additionally, stress reduction can have a positive effect on reducing inflammation as there is a correlating relationship between stress and inflammation.
NUTRIENTS THAT CAN ASSIST WITH REDUCING INFLAMMATION
Specific nutrients can have a more targeted approach at reducing the body’s inflammatory responses on a cellular level.
Dietary fibre from consuming fibre-rich fruits and vegetables has been linked to reducing inflammatory markers in the blood. Additionally, consuming more fruits and vegetables also increases nutrient intake, in particular antioxidant and phytonutrient profiles, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
Herbs & spices are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties which may help in cases of chronic inflammation. BOTANISTRY Blends are Ayurvedic herb & spice mixes that make it easy to consume these valuable micronutrients in your daily food and drink.
Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin, which boasts amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The component in Turmeric called curcumin gives us most of the health benefits. Curcumin aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, depression and high cholesterol. It has also been shown to help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing the recovery and performance for active people. Organic Turmeric can be found in BOTANISTRY’s ACTIVE CORALS and BOOSTING AMBERS blends for active health and immunity support respectively.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols which inhibit the formation of inflammatory cytokines that are chemical messengers of the immune system. Antioxidants are substances or compounds which inhibit oxidation, and within the body, will bind to damaging free radicals in order to neutralise them and prevent any further damage arising from them. Examples of antioxidants include foods rich in vitamin C and E, carotenoids, selenium, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. BOOSTING AMBERS supplement powder combines Turmeric, Ginger, vitamin C-rich Lime, Lemongrass and Black Pepper to naturally support the body’s immune function.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce skin irritation, redness and swelling. It’s also a great antibacterial to kill systemic bacterial infections associated with acne. Swapping green tea for your coffee or black tea will also help boost your overall antioxidant profile providing a number of anti-inflammatory benefits. Green tea can be found along with other antioxidant-rich plant ingredients in the GLOWING GREENS powder blend for skin health.
Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the arachidonic acid content of cell membranes, resulting in the synthesis of eicosanoids that have fewer inflammatory properties than those derived from omega-6 fatty acids. Therefore, a diet rich in omega-3 foods such as oily fish (salmon, herrings, mackerel, sardines), walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds or a good quality omega-3 supplement aims to be effective in reducing inflammation.
Want to know more details about the top tips to reduce inflammation? Or if you’d like to speak with a team of qualified nutritionists on subjects like sports nutrition, gut health, hormonal balance and more, contact Key Nutrition based in Auckland, New Zealand via their website or email to email@example.com. You can also order healthy gift boxes featuring top quality, nutritionist-recommended products – including BOTANISTRY Blends – from Box Me Up.