The Inflammatory Epidemic
Inflammation is the buzzword these days with “anti-inflammation” this and “anti-inflammation” that. In fact, I give an anti-inflammation diet handout to most of my patients.
What exactly is inflammation, and why does this inflammatory epidemic exist? This week I break inflammation down and highlight my favorite foods and herbs for dampening the inflammatory process.
We actually NEED inflammation; if we didn’t have it we would die from a small cut. Inflammation is a NORMAL bodily response to defend itself against foreign invasions and repair it from injury. This injury can be from trauma, infection, toxic exposure or poor diet. Inflammation becomes chronic when these triggers are ongoing or when an immune system fails to control it. An increasing body of evidence shows that chronic inflammation causes and advances many common diseases (1).
At this point in medicine, we understand a lot of the biochemical pathways involved in inflammation. In fact, many of the popular medications interrupt these pathways: Ibuprofen, Singular, Humera, and Prednisone to name a few. These medications provide great relief to a lot of people, yet the work on the downstream consequences of inflammation. As a functionally trained ND, I work to dampen the inflammation upstream.
Why inflammation happens and how this is an epidemic is a logical question. We each inherit genes that make us susceptible to certain triggers. When these genes are exposed to inflammation through a poor diet, deficiency in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and excess sugar, these inflammatory genes are ‘turned on.’ Inflammation gets worse with excessive toxic exposure (ie exhaust), sedentary lifestyle, unchecked infections, and diets void of plants.
TAKE ACTION NOW and make choices for your health that lower inflammation. Eat a diet abundant in vegetables and plant foods. Don’t forget to include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, exercise, practice meditation, and ensure healthy gut function. Below are my top three supplements for dampening the inflammatory response.
QUERCETIN (quer·ce·tin) is a yellow tinted antioxidant pigment found in the skins of tea, onions, berries, apple skins, berries, and tomatoes. Quercetin is a potent mast cell stabalizer and prevents histamine and other inflammatory chemicals to be released2. Use quercetin with itching, sneezing, pain, swelling, and mucous production. The typical dose is 500-1000g three times daily with studies exhibiting safety up to 5 grams daily (2).
FISH OIL contains fatty acids (omega-3’s) that act as anti-inflammatory cellular messenger. Fish oil can regulate ALL aspects of inflammation. Some conditions amenable to treatment with fish oil include: allergy, asthma, eczema, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, neurodegenerative diseases, mood disorders, and more (3,4,5)! Studies support dosing of 1000-4000 mg/day. Fish oil can have blood thinning effects, and higher doses are not recommended for those of you taking daily aspirin or other blood thinners.
Curcumin (Turmeric) is a well-studied plant food that has proven effective in lowering inflammation. It works by dampening several biochemical inflammatory pathways and is effective in several conditions. These include: psoriasis, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few (6). Studies support dosing of 750-1500 mg/day standardized to curcuminoids.
I have included the recommended dosing based on studies. We often do not take high enough doses for these medicines to be effective. If you are on ANY medications or other supplements, please consult with your prescribing physician first to ensure there are no contraindications.