By Carey Rossi Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Inflammation — what does the word mean to you? For most people, it’s a swollen cut or the swelling that occurs with pain or injury. And while, yes, these outward signs indicate inflammation, this same action happens deep inside the body. This natural process takes place when the body’s normal protective mechanisms are lacking or even over-acting.
In some, inflammation is chronic because their bodies are exposed to stress: internal, such as eating a high-fat diet or smoking; and external, such as difficult relationships or life events, like a divorce or death of a loved one. Research has shown that chronic inflammation is linked to a wide range of health problems including arthritis, allergies, cancer, diabetes and heart disease, among others. Luckily, there are many natural remedies for inflammation that effectively work to provide natural inflammation relief.
1. Açai Berry
All hail, antioxidants and the Amazon berry that has an abundance of them — açai (pronounced: ahh-sa-ee). According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Açai-rich juice may reduce levels of inflammation markers linked to conditions such as heart disease by protecting cells from oxidative damage.
“Given the high content of certain specific polyphenols in the juice blend, the increased antioxidant protection [in the body] after consumption of the juice blend, and the anti-inflammatory capacity in vitro, further research is warranted to evaluate whether juice blend consumption may provide reversal of risk markers in subjects with conditions such as arthritis, obesity, chronic viral diseases, cardiovascular disease and compromised cognitive function, as well as other conditions associated with chronic inflammation,” wrote lead author Gitte Jensen from Holger NIS Inc., a contract research laboratory.
Other research has indicated that the açai berry contains a wide array of inflammation-fighting antioxidant compounds and has great potential to be used as a natural inflammation remedy.
2. Flax Seed Oil
A tiny super seed chock full of essential omega-3 fatty acids can give inflammation a one-two punch. The omega-3s its oil contains can help the body reduce C-reactive protein, a marker that is present in the body when inflammation is present. According to a study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, healthy post-menopausal women who ate low-fat muffins enriched with flax seeds for six weeks saw a 15% reduction C-reactive protein. Flax seeds also contain lignans, which may protect against breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
Flax seeds and flax seed oil have many health benefits, and as this research indicates, they may serve as an effective remedy to naturally decrease inflammation.
What do red grapes, broccoli and green tea have in common? They all contain quercetin, a natural antioxidant that has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Recently, Chinese researchers reported in the November 2008 issue of Molecular Biology Reports that quercetin negatively alters intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)—one of the important pro-inflammatory factors—especially in the early phase of inflammation.
As more and more research reveals, quercetin has great potential to serve as a natural anti-inflammatory, and may also boost immunity.
Many people take zinc to fight off a cold or virus, and now research shows that zinc may also be a natural inflammation remedy. Popping zinc regularly can help reduce inflammation and has also been shown to fight infections in older people. Researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, tested whether zinc supplementation decreases oxidative stress. They found that consuming 25 mg three times a day for three months decreased TNF-alpha, a cytokine that amplifies inflammation. (Bao B, et al. Transl Res. 2008 Aug;152(2):67-80. Epub 2008 Jul 11.)
5. Fish Oil
It shouldn’t surprise you that more research has emerged touting this omega-3-rich super supplement’s natural anti-inflammatory powers. The latest comes from the United Kingdom. Researchers found that taking 3.5 g of fish oil daily for six weeks may activate anti-inflammatory and lipid modulating mechanisms believed to impede the early onset of coronary heart disease. (de Roos B et al. Proteomics. 2008 May;8(10):1965-74.)
Fish oil is well known for its ability to improve cardiovascular health and to fight inflammation naturally. Research has shown that it may even be a viable alternative to NSAIDS for back pain and for the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arhritis.
Keep in mind that while supplements can help tame inflammation in your body, you can make lifestyle choices to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Stay away from trans fats in your diet. Exercise on a regular basis (but don’t over do it since that can cause inflammation!) and keep stress at bay by adopting mindful activities, such as yoga, tai chi or meditation.
The bottom line is, chronic inflammation has been recognized as perhaps the cheif culprit in many diseases which can dramatically affect the quality of your life as you age. Do what it takes to keep inflammation to a minimum with proven natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as açai berry, flax seed oil, quercetin, zinc and fish oil, and by making anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle choices.
About the Author
Carey Rossi is a writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering all aspects of nutrition and fitness. She was the editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition, a shopping magazine for natural living, and the founding editor of Muscle & Fitness Hers. In addition, her work has appeared in Muscle & Fitness, Looking Good Now, Healthy Family, Vegetarian Times and Natural Health. She is the author of No More Diets Ever, Lose Weight the Natural Way.