The word inflammation comes from the Latin “inflammo”, meaning “I set alight, I ignite”. The cardinal signs of inflammation are rubor, redness; calor, heat (or warmth); tumor, swelling; and dolor, pain; a fifth sign, functio laesa, inhibited or lost function. Not all of these symptoms are present, especially in chronic inflammation.
While inflammation is an essential part of tissue healing, the danger comes when inflammation becomes, chronic or low grade. Chronic inflammatory state is linked to endothelial dysfunction the contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, as well as abnormal glucose metabolism.
Two of the big players in the chronic inflammation pathways are tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6), both of which can be modified directly through lifestyle and diet.
Research has demonstrated that higher levels of physical activity and/or cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with lower risk of inflammatory markers.
The contraction of muscles provides protection against low grade inflammation. The largest decreases in inflammation are demonstrated when aerobic and resistance exercise are combined. Specifically individuals with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome combining both types of exercise
Levels of dietary fiber less then 20g per day were linked to higher levels of inflammatory markers within blood as well as increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Since the North American Diet is generally low in fiber, individuals should be aiming for greater then 30g of fiber per day.
Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil provide essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as well as plant derived omega 3 from flaxseeds or walnuts. Well established links have been made between omega 3 consumption decreasing levels of TNF-α.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant that prevents oxidation of fatty acids within cell membranes which result in inflammation. Sources of vitamin E are cold pressed vegetable oils, unprocessed grains and nuts. Vitamin E can be taken in supplemental form but there are many forms of vitamin E on the supplement market, some associated with negative outcomes health so consult your Naturopathic Doctor before beginning supplementation.
Zinc is a mineral essential for normal cell metabolism, DNA synthesis, cell division and immune function. Dietary sources include beef, chicken, fortified cereals, and nuts. Supplemental zinc may be needed in cases of malabsorption or serious deficiencies.
Fruit – berries in particular have large quantities of antiinflammatory phytochemicals in their skins. The darker the berry the higher levels of beneficial anthocyanins which counteract inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease. Include berries in your diet daily, and remember fresh or frozen are your best choice, concentrations of these beneficial anthocyanins are decreased in juice.
This post is for educational purposes only, and not meant to replace a visit with a health practitioner.