Avoid chronic inflammation with the right nutrients
When you think of inflammation, you probably picture a swollen sprained ankle or a painful bee sting. The truth is, we actually need inflammation to protect our bodies from harmful bacteria that can cause sickness and infection. But when inflammation lingers over the long term, it turns into a more serious matter.
But first, what is inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s biological response to harmful external stimuli such as pathogens, toxins, and irritants. When harmful agents injure your cells, the damaged cells release chemicals that lead to blood vessels leaking fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. The chemicals also attract white blood cells which “eat” germs and dead or damaged cells, a process known as phagocytosis.
Sometimes, inflammation occurs when there are no harmful stimuli attacking your body. When unprompted inflammation becomes chronic, it starts to damage your cells. This is often the cause of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and type 1 diabetes. It can also lead to pain and stiffness in your joints, fever and loss of appetite.
How can I avoid chronic inflammation?
We know you’ve heard this plenty of times, but we cannot stress enough the importance of a healthy diet and stress management. Here’s how you can get started.
Load up on nature’s nutrients
When free radicals outnumber antioxidants in your body, it elevates the risk of chronic inflammation. Excessive free radicals increase the number of several different genes involved in the inflammatory response. Antioxidants help combat this by “giving away” some of their own electrons, which acts as a natural “off” switch for free radicals.
Here are some key antioxidants to focus on to avoid free radical damage and chronic inflammation.
Vitamin C is a vital nutrient that we can’t produce in our bodies, so we need to get it from dietary sources. Studies show that upping your vitamin C intake has the ability to increase your blood antioxidant level by 30%!
Here are some Vitamin C rich foods to add to your diet:
- Red pepper
- Brussels sprouts
If it’s not possible to get adequate levels of vitamin C from diet alone, you can always grab a high-quality vitamin C supplement.
Elderberries have been shown by studies to have significant anti-inflammatory effects. This is because, in their fresh form, elderberries are high in vitamin C and phenolic acids – compounds which are known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities.
Elderberries are also rich in anthocyanins, which give the berry its black-purple colour and are critical in reducing cellular oxidative damage and inflammation. This is achieved through the activation of different cellular pathways, which creates an anti-inflammatory environment. Our cells are then capable of reacting to acute oxidative and inflammatory responses that can be caused by activities such as exercise. These mighty little berries also help promote efficient detox pathways through the skin, kidneys, and mucous membranes.
Olive leaf extract
Another natural remedy for reducing chronic inflammation is olive leaf extract. Having been used for centuries by Middle Eastern cultures for their diverse health benefits, olive leaves have great anti-inflammatory effects.
Like elderberries, they’re rich in polyphenolic compounds. They also contain oleuropein, which is a free radical scavenger that inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species, which cause inflammation. Olive leaves may not be readily available off the branch where you are, so grab an olive leaf extract supplement to reap their anti-inflammatory benefits.
Ditch the sugar and processed foods
Along with a healthy diet full of the right nutrients, it’s key to avoid or reduce the consumption of foods that promote inflammation. This includes red meat, deep fried foods, sugar, simple carbs, and highly processed foods. Sugar supplies excess amounts of fructose, which can cause inflammation in the endothelial cells that line your blood vessels. This elevates your risk of contracting heart disease.
Take some time to manage stress
We all know that stress is bad for you, but what is its relationship with inflammation?
Whenever we feel stressed, our body goes into the fight or flight response, which triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Inflammation is partially regulated by cortisol; however, chronic stress reduces the sensitivity of immune cells to cortisol’s regulatory effects, which leads to inflammation getting out of control.
Get started today!
Although chronic inflammation can have harsh impacts on the body, it’s simple to avoid. By prioritizing a healthy diet and managing stress, you can keep your immune response in check so inflammation only occurs when absolutely necessary. These changes may take some time to implement and become a part of your daily routine, but it’s well worth it. Your body will thank you.