Some diet additions that may help prevent inflammation

A new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows that certain foods may be able to help lessen inflammation – a natural bodily defense mechanism for injuries, which could lead to illnesses if it becomes excessive.

Furthermore, Andrew Weil, M.D., points out that inflammation – which could lead to conditions pertaining to heart health, as well as cancer and and problems affecting brain health such as Alzheimer’s – can be characterized by a body part or joint getting warmer and swelling, even to the point of being painful.

A statement from the researchers notes that poor weight management – specifically, obesity and being overweight – increases the amount of inflammation in the body, and could also damage cardiovascular health.

“The inflammation process has one goal: to respond immediately to detect and destroy the toxic material in damaged tissues before it can spread throughout the body,” said the Employee Wellness director and adjunct professor of personal health at the university and lead study author, Lauren Whitt, Ph.D. “The trouble with inflammation occurs when the defense system gets out-of-control and begins to destroy healthy tissue, causing more damage than the original issue.”

Foods that may reduce inflammation
When it comes to specific foods that may help with inflammation, Whitt advises readers to try eating more citrus fruits that contain vitamin C and E for their antioxidant content. Tomatoes may be useful in the same way. In addition, she recommends consuming wild salmon, a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, which has been indicated as a major preventive substance against inflammation.

Whitt notes that consuming more of these types of foods on a daily basis shouldn’t be difficult, and decreasing inflammation could stop a person from having to purchase inflammation-lowering medications down the line. So even if foods that could prevent inflammation seem a little more expensive now, they might save money in the long run.

Weil’s advice is similar to Whitt’s, but he has a few more bits of advice to add to the variety. A large variety of foods may help reduce inflammation, and processed foods – particularly those from certain fast food establishments – are certainly not thought to help inflammation symptoms.

The expert also recommends drinking plenty of water or diluted fruit juice or sparkling water can have similar anti-inflammatory effects. He also recommends taking a daily fish oil supplement if regular fish isn’t available, and he also encourages ginger and turmeric if those aren’t already a regular part of the daily diet.

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Managing the Inflammatory Response: Stop Smoking

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Stop Smoking!

Smoking is one of the worst activities you can continue to do and still hope to normalize the body’s inflammatory response. In addition to contributing to the development of several chronic diseases, smoking leads to a generalized state of inflammation throughout the body. Smoking increases blood levels of inflammatory markers, triggering injury to the vasculature and leading directly to the development of cardiovascular disease. Numerous chemicals associated with cigarette smoke are carcinogens and therefore contribute to the development of several cancers. If you’re still smoking, quit! It’s the best thing you can do for your health.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Sleep: Vital to Health and Healing

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Managing the Inflammatory Response: Exercise and Physical Activities

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Exercise and Physical Activities

The results of the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society show quite clearly that one of the most effective things you can do to promote the health of your immune system and maintain inflammatory balance is to perform some combination of physical activities for at least 3 hours every week.7 Gardening, yard work, housework, walking up and down stairs, walking at least a mile, calisthenics, using small or large weights, bicycle riding or any other activity that requires putting your body in motion all contribute to the production of physiological responses that reduce the “inflammatory tone” of your body.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Stop Smoking!

References:
7. Sarkar D, Lebedeva IV, Emdad L, Kang DC, Baldwin AS Jr, Fisher PB. Human polynucleotide phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35): A potential link between aging and inflammation. Cancer Res 2004;64:7473- 7478.

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Managing the Inflammatory: Pycnogenol for Immune Support

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Pycnogenol for Immune Support

The powerful patented extract of French maritime pine tree bark, Pycnogenol, can also help your immune system maintain its balance. For example, in research published recently in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, dietary supplementation with Pycnogenol was shown to inhibit the effects of proinflammatory and pro-aging enzymes, thereby promoting a normal state of inflammatory activity.11

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Exercise and Physical Activities

References:
11. Schafer A, Chovanova Z, Muchova J, Sumegova K, Liptakova A, Durackova Z, Hogger P. Inhibition of COX-1 and COX-2 activity by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). Biomed Pharmacother 2006;60:5-9.

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Managing the Inflammatory Response and Fish Oil

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Don’t Forget the Fish (and Fish Oil)

Month after month another study is published that confirms again the lesson of previous studies: fish oils (and the fish that contain them) are powerful promoters of balance in the human immune system. Recently, researchers confirmed that maintaining a healthy inflammatory state depends upon adequate daily consumption of fish oils – especially fish oils that are highly refined to contain concentrated levels of the essential fats DHA and EPA, and less fishy contaminants, mercury, pollutants and carcinogens.9

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Selenium and the Colorful Carotenoids

References:
9. Ferrucci L, Cherubini A, Bandinelli S, Bartali B, Corsi A, Lauretani F, Martin A, Andres-Lacueva C, Senin U, Guralnik JM. Relationship of plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids to circulating inflammatory markers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006;91:439-446.

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Managing the Inflammatory Response with Antioxidant Vitamins

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Today’s topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Antioxidant Vitamins and Nutrients Normalize the Inflammatory Response

Vitamin C and vitamin E inhibit the oxidation of fats in the blood and stimulate the immune system to remove them from the circulation. These actions both protect the cardiovascular system and decrease the body’s overall inflammatory “tone.”4 In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was found that the amount of vitamin C and E that older men and women consume is proportional to the amounts of fruit and vegetables they eat5 – eat more fruit and vegetables, eat more vitamins. But if you cannot eat enough fruits and vegetables every day, add supplements containing vitamins C and E to your daily diet. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine also supports normalization of the inflammatory response in tissues.3,6 The findings of a published study demonstrate conclusively that because N-acetylcysteine can enter all cells it is a very effective and efficient antioxidant and supports a healthy inflammatory state throughout the body.7

Other powerful dietary antioxidants obtained from fruits and vegetables, such as the flavonoid quercetin and the stilbene resveratrol, also help the immune system support and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. In addition, research in humans showed that pomegranate juice tones down and helps to stabilize levels of inflammation throughout the cardiovascular system.8 Nutritional science provides convincing evidence that in addition to beneficial dietary supplements, you can promote a healthy balance in your immune system by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Fish Oil

References:
3. Couillard C, Pomerleau S, Ruel G, Archer WR, Bergeron J, Couture P, Lamarche B, Bergeron N. Associations between hypertriglyceridemia, dietary fat intake, oxidative stress, and endothelial activation in men. Nutrition 2006;22:600-608.
4. Colbert LH, Visser M, Simonsick EM, Tracy RP, Newman AB, Kritchevsky SB, Pahor M, Taaffe DR, Brach J, Rubin S, Harris TB. Physical activity, exercise, and inflammatory markers in older adults: Findings from the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. J Am Geriatr Soc 2004;52:1098-1104.
5. Gao X, Bermudez OI, Tucker KL. Plasma C-reactive protein and homocysteine concentrations are related to frequent fruit and vegetable intake in Hispanic and non-Hispanic white elders. J Nutr 2004;134:913-918.
6. Li L, Sawamura T, Renier G. Glucose enhances human macrophage LOX-1 expression: Role for LOX-1 in glucose-induced macrophage foam cell formation. Circ Res 2004;94:892-901.
7. Sarkar D, Lebedeva IV, Emdad L, Kang DC, Baldwin AS Jr, Fisher PB. Human polynucleotide phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35): A potential link between aging and inflammation. Cancer Res 2004;64:7473- 7478.

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Managing the Inflammatory Response: Help Your Blood Vessels Help Themselves

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Help Your Blood Vessels Help Themselves

During their travels through your bloodstream, fats can become oxidized by a number of other circulating compounds, including things from the diet. Oxidized fats are potentially dangerous oxidizers of other compounds. Special antioxidants (“paraoxonases”) made within immune cells diffuse the danger posed by the oxidized fats in the bloodstream. However, this system can be overwhelmed. If too many of these fat cells collect in one spot, they may trigger a reaction that can throw off the balance of the entire inflammatory system.

Cutting-edge research has shown a clear connection between the amount of fat you eat and an increase in the imbalanced inflammatory response. Research just published in Nutrition has documented a direct relationship between dietary fat intake and this imbalanced inflammatory response.3 The culprit is high levels of dietary saturated fats. So for the sake of your hard-working vascular system – CUT: 1) cut back on red meats and replace them with fresh vegetables and white meats; 2) when you do eat red meat, cut off the fat you can see before cooking (if you don’t eat it, it can’t hurt you); and 3) cut down the cooking temperature – overcooking red meats just makes them even more harmful.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Antioxidant Vitamins and Nutrients Normalize the Inflammatory Response

References:
3. Couillard C, Pomerleau S, Ruel G, Archer WR, Bergeron J, Couture P, Lamarche B, Bergeron N. Associations between hypertriglyceridemia, dietary fat intake, oxidative stress, and endothelial activation in men. Nutrition 2006;22:600-608.

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Managing the Inflammatory Response: Less Heat, More Nutrition

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Less Heat, More Nutrition

As discussed recently in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences excessive sugars in the blood can attach abnormally to proteins.2 In most cases, this sugar-protein combination cannot function properly and in fact is seen by the immune system as foreign. Within the body, these complexes can provoke inflammatory responses in the gums, joints, blood vessels – creating conditions that can impair the health of many tissues and organs.

Cooking foods at high temperatures also generates these complexes that enter your bloodstream after you have eaten the food. Broiled and fried meats and cooked animal fats contain the highest levels. In contrast, fruits and vegetables contain almost none. Replacing some of the pro-inflammatory foods with those that are anti-inflammatory can improve the balance.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Help Your Blood Vessels Help Themselves

References:
2. Uribarri J, Cai W, Sandu O, Peppa M, Goldberg T, Vlassara H. Dietderived advanced glycation end products are major contributors to the body’s AGE pool and induce inflammation in healthy subjects. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2005;1043:461-466.

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Managing the Inflammatory Response

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Managing the Inflammatory Response – Natural Support

Better Communication is the Key

Inflammation is the body’s natural way of defending itself against insults and protecting the integrity of its organs and systems. The complicated inflammatory response usually remains tightly controlled through a voluminous exchange of intercellular messages transmitted via small proteins (“cytokines”) that flow between cells, allowing them to coordinate their defensive, demolition and reconstruction activities. Cytokines also provide “reminders” to the cells that produced them.

How each cell responds to a message depends on what type of cell it is. For example, the cytokine, interleukin-1, will stimulate cells in the hypothalamus to generate a fever but will tell cells in the liver to produce other cytokines that instruct cells elsewhere in the body (such as “TNF-a”, which stimulates the proliferation of lymphocytes). The large amount of cytokine “cross talk” creates networks of sequential and simultaneous responses throughout the body.

The regulation of the severity, extent and duration of an inflammatory response to a stimulus depends on whether the stimulus is short-term or persistent. Under normal healthy circumstances the initial inflammatory response will be effective in removing the stimulus and a set of anti-inflammatory cytokines will communicate a “job well done – time to relax” message that will restore the balance between active responses, vigilant surveillance and inactivity in the immune system.

Unfortunately, the complex communication network can become short-circuited or fail. When that happens, either the body may fail to respond effectively to an inflammatory stimulus or it may overreact. As demonstrated in an article published recently in Blood, predisposition to inflammatory overreaction increases with age.1

As the balance between the pro-inflammatory system and the anti-inflammatory system gradually tips in favor of increased (and possibly excessive) reactivity, the need for effective nutritional support of your immune system becomes increasingly urgent.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Less Heat, More Nutrition

References:
1. Penninx BW, Kritchevsky SB, Newman AB, Nicklas BJ, Simonsick EM, Rubin S, Nevitt M, Visser M, Harris T, Pahor M. Inflammatory markers and incident mobility limitation in the elderly. J Am Geriatr Soc 2004;52:1105-1113.

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