What is Inflammation?
We’ve all experienced acute inflammation — a cut, a bug bite, a burn, a sprained ankle, an allergic reaction, an infection. It’s the body’s way of protecting itself. Blood vessels near the damaged area constrict and then dilate to bring more blood to the area, making it redden and heat up. The increased flow of blood and other fluids causes the area to swell and brings in immune cells and ingredients for rebuilding tissue. Inflammation must break down damaged tissue or pathogens in order for the area to heal. As the area heals, the inflammation subsides. This inflammatory process is very important for the immune system and for our survival.
Chronic inflammation, or “silent” inflammation, works differently. It is not a response to sudden injury, but rather a constant, low-level process lasting several months or years. We don’t necessarily realize when our body is experiencing this quiet burn, but its effects can be devastating. Chronic inflammation has been identified as a major factor in the development of several major chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
What causes chronic inflammation? It requires constant, quiet stressors to keep the inflammation turned on. These can include weight gain, poor diet, overtraining, a sedentary lifestyle, persistent environmental toxins (tobacco, alcohol, pollution, etc.), lack of sleep, chronic stress, hormonal changes and aging. A certain amount of increased inflammation as we age cannot be avoided, but we can take steps to minimize its effects.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
One of the strongest factors in chronic inflammation is abdominal obesity. Even just a 5 lb. gain in weight can increase inflammation levels. When fat cells are bombarded by a high-calorie diet, they release proteins that signal the immune system for help, triggering inflammation. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the best lines of defense. Far from a fad diet, the anti-inflammatory diet requires a lifetime of healthy food choices:
- Abundant amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Minimal saturated and trans fats
- More lean protein sources with healthy fats
- Good sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates and sugars
- More spices in your food like ginger, turmeric, garlic, and curry
A healthy diet is vital to combating inflammation, but there are other lifestyle choices that can make a big difference too: exercising, getting quality sleep, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake, to name a few.
Managing Inflammation Through Supplementation
Researchers have identified several vitamins, minerals, extracts and bioactives in supplement form that may help lower inflammation.
- Vitamins A, C, and E help the body prevent free radical damage. Free radicals can cause tissue damage and trigger an inflammatory response.
- Another antioxidant, Coenzyme Q10, has been shown to lower levels of a key inflammation-signaling protein in patients with coronary artery disease.
- Grape seed extract and L-carnitine were found to significantly lower inflammation indicators in diabetes patients.
- Daily zinc supplementation in healthy elderly subjects lowered multiple biomarkers for inflammation.
- Pycnogenol® has been shown to reduce inflammation by inhibiting enzymes linked to many inflammatory conditions.
- In a University of Illinois study, researchers discovered that lunasin blocks NF-κB, a link in the chain of biochemical events that triggers inflammation. Lunasin also reduced pro-inflammatory signaling proteins.
Top Inflammation Fighters & Where to Find Them
Note: If you have an allergy to any of these foods, they will not be helpful in reducing your inflammation — quite the opposite actually.
Scientists have made many discoveries about inflammation in recent years. Understanding that inflammation is at the root of many health problems gives us a key for prevention. We can take steps to limit inflammation for optimal health today and smart prevention for tomorrow.
A Note from Dr. Carl: No need to suffer in silent inflammation.
Reliv consumers have reported a wide range of health benefits over the years, and now science may be uncovering why that is. It turns out that inflammation is associated with many health problems, and nutrients that reduce inflammation can have multiple beneficial effects.
If you can identify inflammation stressors in your life, I encourage you to ask your doctor for advice — and then take action to address them. A high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test can give you a better picture of inflammation levels in your body. Regardless of your current levels, adopting a healthy lifestyle today that includes exercising, eating right and taking Reliv products will provide benefits for years to come. Your body will thank you for it.
To your health,
Dr. Carl W. Hastings
Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer
This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. Reliv products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.