The Inflamation crisis
The consequences of ration are worse than previously thought, as science discovers it’s behird Tang of our ciseases and even weicht loss proJle-ns but Honor Tremain explains that there are also SOTO simple cures ost of us understand what basic inflammation is: we hurt our finger and it becomes red and sore. Or if a pimple becomes infected, it swells and hurts. We’ve been dealing with some form of inflammation all our lives_ So why are scientists now speaking of it as some sort of ninja style global health crisis? That’s because it is! Less than 5 percent of all the Western diseases we experience are from hereditary or genetic factors, according to research carried out by Dr_ Begona Ruiz-Niiriez and published in the highly respected Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in May this year. This leaves us with a staggering 95 per cent of diseases now being attributed to diet and lifestyle alone. And what’s the underlying link between all these illnesses? It’s low-grade inflammation.
What’s Inflammation exactly?
Inflammation is the body’s biological form of self-protection. The goal of inflammation is to get rid of any harmful substance that either has caused or can cause harm and damage to the body and tissues. This can be pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, funguses, and parasites, or irritants such as trauma, toxic chemicals, and even other damaged cells. One way the body tries to destroy all these is to isolate them, then to generate a high temperature in the affected area so that the harmful cells or substances are destroyed through heat. Hence the name: in-flammation, or ‘into the fire”. Once the
harmful substance has been obliterated, the body begins the next stage, the clearing and healing process. Now, inflammation is part of the immune response and involves a complicated and beautifully.orchestrated cascading release of varying chemicals and hormones. Initially, these are beneficial when, for example, you hurt your elbow whilst playing tennis.Your partner, who has far less sporting prowess than you, is lunging for the ball whilst swinging his racket wildly and your elbow sustains the blow instead of the ball (true story). So now your tissues need care and protection.Chemicals such as histamine, bradykinin and prostaglandins are released from your damaged elbow cells.
Histamine is a broken down part of the amino acid histidine, and is the starting point or the `herald’ of local inflammation, calling all the other immune cells to it. Both histamine and bradykinin cause more blood flow and warmth to the area, while also allowing fluids to escape into the surrounding tissue, which is seen as swelling. The prostaglandins attract blood platelets, are somewhat responsible for the sensation of pain, and much more. Phagocytes, a type of white blood cell, are also called to action and literally eat and destroy germs or damaged cells in order to rid the body of them.
This is acute inflammation, acute meaning of short duration, and intense, which is usually localised to one area. Here, the inflammatory process is astonishingly intricate and effective. But what if this process couldn’t turn off? What if the irritant or pathogen is not powerful or localised enough to evoke a quick and direct attack that kills it straight away? What if, like my clumsy tennis partner, it’s left to cause small damage here and there whilst also being very stubborn and persistent?
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Ultraviolet rays may affect the skin through NF-B-induced inflammation SKINAbnormal Keratinization Proliferation of Melanocytes Collagen degradation“INFLAMMATION CAN CAUSE FURTHER INFLAMMATION AND BE SELF-PERPETUATING” This is then what is known as “low grade chronic inflammation’ where the inflammatory process is mild but sustained. What was once a process that protected the body is now a gradual barrage of harming, hurting, deforming and killing the body and mind. So what disease states are classified as low-grade inflammatory
Conditions you ask? Well only all the main ones: metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes type 2, gestational diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, gut issues, inflammatory bowel syndrome, fertility issues, complications during pregnancy, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and many many more. What are the causes? Low grade chronic inflammation can be caused by multiple threats but basically it’s due to an irritant remaining within the tissues that does not leave, such as repeated exposure to foods to which the
Person has a low level food allergy or intolerance to, a virus, fungus or bacteria that won’t degrade, or an over-active immune system.Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta Georgia discovered that even poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation raises inflammatory molecules.In the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, low-grade chronic inflammation is described as almost a natural progression many humans who live the Western style diet and lifestyle will encounter.This lifestyle is the perfect recipe for disaster as it’s characterised by a high sugar, high trans and saturated fat
diet with few antioxidant-rich foods, inadequate physical activity and sleep, and living with chronic stress and environmental pollutants. Great. I almost don’t know anyone who doesn’t live the lifestye, unless they are child-free, biodynamic farm-dwelling vegans who also hate sugar and spend their time meditating in the hills behind Byron bay. And if that’s not bad enough, inflammation can cause further inflammation and become self-perpetuating. When this happens, more inflammation is created in response to the existence of the already inflamed and damaged cells.
This is illustrated rather well in obesity, where the fat cells of the abdomen store most of the fat. These fat cells are inflamed by the chemicals and hormones released when the inflammatory process takes control of the uptake of fats from the circulation into the cells. The body loses control over these fat cells and the inflammatory mediators (dictators) take over. The enlarged fat cells then attract more inflammatory cells from the blood, which release more inflammatory mediators, which makes it actually impossible to lose that weight. No matter how hard the person exercises, no matter
how well they eat, the fat cells will not allow them to lose this weight. And sometimes, in a cruel twist, over-exercising leads to more inflammation through micro-injury and tears, leading to more water and fat being held. So we now have a situation where the inflammation response can’t switch off, and the entire health of the person is at risk. Today, this is not an uncommon scenario.So what can help? In this immensely complicated biological crisis, one would never imagine that an Eastern spice, an ancient NOV/DEC 2013 FITNESS FIRST I 31
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vegetable, and the newest kid on the block in the form of a seed, could be the key to unlocking most of it. Curcumin Found within the popular Eastern spice turmeric, curcumin is one of the fastest growing super foods in the health and science worlds today. It is considered to be remarkably ‘pleiotropic, meaning it works in a huge array of health areas. Curcumin shows significant anti-inflammatory activity. In clinical trials, curcumin’s effects on inflammation have been comparable to the stronger pharmaceutical drugs such as hydrocortisone, phenylbutazone and ibuprofen. Curcumins role in inflammation actually begins with its role as an anti-oxidant, which in turn influences and
prevents some of the stages involved in the inflammatory process. It seems to specifically inhibit the RNA transcribing factor: NF-kB or nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells. It is a protein, which helps write DNA to RNA and is in control of the very beginning stages of the immune response. NF-kB is highly implicated in most, if not all inflammatory disorders. In skin cells, curcumin will physically stop inflammation so the cell doesn’t age or degrade rapidly into a cancer cell if exposed to free radicals or UV light.“CURCUMIN WILL STOP INFLAMMATION SO THE CELL DOESN’T AGE OR DEGRADE RAPIDLY INTO CANCER…”In clinical trials, curcumin has also been
shown to have a role in helping prevent heart failure and in treating heart disease, liver diseases, inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease by removing the beta-arnyloid plaque build-up in the brain. While in the Science Journal Nature, Dr. Tarek from Cairo University, proved that curcumin also blocks pain receptors in almost any condition, and prevents the remodelling of tissues- both of which are experienced in arthritis and other disease states. You can understand why turmeric is being called “The Indian Solid gold” by many.
The Purple carrot What did carrots look like before they became orange? They were originally purple and originated and were domesticated in Ancient Persia, Turkey and Afghanistan. It’s the very powerful antioxidant, anthocyanin that actually makes the carrot purple and is additionally what makes it extremely beneficial to health. Carrots are really a food medicine. The anthocyanins work in a similar way to curcumin, theoretically blocking the inflammation signaling molecule- NF-kB. When ingested, even in the presence of eating a high fat, high sugar diet, 32 I FITNESS FIRST NOV/DEC 2013weight loss occurred. Not only that, but heart health improved, liver function and architecture was
greatly assisted, blood pressure returned to normal and it was a powerful free radical scavenger, again, good for many age related health problems.Chia Seeds Salvia hispanica or chia is a species of flowering plant and was originally found in Southern Mexico and Guatemala. The Kimberley region of Australia is now one of the largest growers of chia seed worldwide. University of Southern Queensland Professor Lindsay Brown, with Dr. S Panchal and Dr. H Poudyal, discovered something remarkable about the simple little chia seed. Remember how our delightful Western way of living is basically the cause of most of this inflammation strife? Well, what this Aussie research found was that even if you are still eating a high fat, high sugar diet and being not only obese, but having cardiovascular and liver disease too,
The introduction of chia seeds to the diet changed all of it. Do you also remember the example of obesity we spoke of earlier where the fats are literally trapped inside the cell around the abdomen and no amount of exercise or eating right can change that? Guess what? Chia seeds were an effective intervention to stop the inflammatory mediators, therefore allowing the release of these fats from the abdomen to be redistributed to other areas of the body and finally burned as fuel through exercise and dietary changes. This redistribution of fats is also invaluable to the elderly, who tend to lose fats in the subcutaneous areas, such as the face, arms and legs. The fats here act as insulation and keep us looking
younger and healthier, so chia has the ability to re-supply these areas. Not only did weight loss occur, but the body became once again sensitive to insulin,the heart and the liver were rebuilt to health and bone density increased, as did lean muscle mass It’s almost mind boggling.That a seed could do all that. So what makes chia so special? It seems to be the vast amount of the omega 3 fatty acids present, predominantly ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, coupled with chia’s high protein content and rich mineral content of calcium and phosphorus. Interestingly, through all the testing done, chia was comparable, if not significantly superior to fish or krill oil in improving health in all the main health fields, and is cheaper and far more Environmentally sustainable to boot. So, in the end, inflammation is like an unseen puppet master.
It is now considered to be one of the main instigators in the obesity crisis, cardiovascular health, liver disorders, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and even simple skin ageing. While the discovery of its effects has been massive in the science worlds, I would say the bigger discovery is what blocks the disease, and it’s not a multimillion dollar drug or expensive therapy, it’s three foods: a spice from India, a root vegetable originating from Afghanistan and a seed from Guatemala.