Some people associate inflammation with infection. This is not the case. Inflammation is the result of the body fighting this infection. Infection is not the only cause of inflammation by far. Anything that the body perceives as a threat (damaged cells, irritation, harmful stimuli) and it will try to remove it. The inflammation is the body’s attempt at encapsulating the threat and getting rid of it. It is a part of the body’s immune response and is a proper reaction. Chronic inflammation is an extended period – months or years- where the body is fighting off a threat. This constant fight can cause diseases and conditions to develop such as rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers, periodontitis and others. Aspirin and NSAIDS are often given to help reduce the swelling and pain associated with inflammation. There are some natural supplements that can help reduce this inflammation as well as provide benefits for the body.
Vitamin A In recent years the topical application of vitamin A in the treatment of acne and for cosmetic uses (wrinkle reduction/resurfacing sun damaged skin) has increased. What has been forgotten is the benefits of Vitamin A in a supplement form. Vitamin A is an antioxidant which means it helps to protect the body from free radicals that can cause innumerable types of damage. Pairing with this protection is Vitamin A’s reduction of inflammation. Vitamin A’s protective qualities keep the free radicals from becoming a threat to the body, which would cause inflammation. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant but can be toxic. Staying within the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowances) is imperative.
Vitamin D Often called the “Sun Vitamin”, the body’s largest source for vitamin D is the sun. It can also be found in different foods like fish and eggs. A lot of dairy foods are fortified with Vitamin D as well. Why fortify with Vitamin D? It is a powerhouse full of valuable aids for the body. One of the most important boost is to the immune system. The immune system is what triggers the reaction to foreign threats to the body and causes inflammation. If this is working incorrectly or is weakened, the immune system can become overactive, causing it to attack the good areas of the body causing serious inflammation. Keeping Vitamin D levels up, help keep the immune system running like a smooth machine. You really can’t go wrong with Vitamin D, and chances are you aren’t getting enough. The threat of skin cancer has cut out time in the sun, thus limiting the largest source for Vitamin D. The benefits on top of immune boosting are increased bone health, reduced risks of cancer, diabetes, Multiple sclerosis and heart disease – just to name a few. Definitely a must-have daily supplement.
Vitamin C Chances are you won’t be getting scurvy anytime soon as the push for vitamin C in your daily life is common and an advertising focus. Foods with vitamin C are often associated with citrus but are in all kinds of fruits and vegetables. In regards to chronic inflammation, a recent study at UC Berkley show that people who have moderate to high levels of inflammation (chronic and disease/condition as a result of inflammation) can reduce that inflammation with Vitamin C. This is a big breakthrough as vitamin C’s other qualities have been well known but the area of inflammation had not been proven until recently. Its other qualities, such as boosting immune and cardiovascular system, preventing eye disease and prenatal care, are added bonuses to taking this very safe and effective vitamin.
Vitamin E Vitamin E is a relative newcomer to the anti-inflammatory game, or at least now it is proven. Acting as a bouncer for the immune system, cytokines determine what needs an immune response and what doesn’t. Some of these cytokines can get a bit jumpy and issue a response that isn’t necessary. Vitamin E steps in as the regulator and helps keep the cytokines from over-reacting. These keeps the amount of inflammation down and unnecessary incidents minimized. Vitamin E has bonus effects of strengthening hair, skin and nails and improving blood flow. A safe and effective Vitamin that can aid in discouraging inflammation.
Omega 3 Commonly referred to as “fish oil”, since fish are the main source of Omega 3. Studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids have a very limited effect on inflammation but have shown great success in treating the symptoms related to inflammation. In cases where Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis are present, stiffness and joint pain were significantly reduced. Grip strength and walking paces were increased. Increasing mobility and decreasing stiffness and pain can themselves help negate inflammation. Omega 3 are a safe supplement to take with the added benefits of lowered blood pressure, depression and triglycerides. All excellent additional benefits for overall health.
Probiotics It is common knowledge that probiotics are good bacteria that they are consumed to fight off bad bacteria and keep a balance in your intestines and stomach. What has recently come to light is that these same probiotics (especially those called bacteria B. infantis) have shown to reduce inflammation of the skin (like psoriasis) and ulcerative colitis. The study was conclusive and although it focused on these disorders, the theory is that probiotics should be able to reduce inflammation in any part of the body. The immune system responds to foreign threats – this includes bad bacteria. By reducing the bad bacteria, you reduce the immune response which triggers the inflammation. Studies are continuing on specific areas and disorders but it is recommended that those with chronic inflammation pursue probiotics. It is more or less the “can’t hurt, might help” theory – which does hold true. Probiotics are an excellent addition for your body’s general wellbeing.
ZMA ZMA is a possible anti-inflammatory but this is solely due to the zinc content. Not only does zinc help boost the immune system but it also helps regulate the inflammatory response. Magnesium helps with sleep. A lot of people suffering with inflammation deal with pain and discomfort. This can definitely interrupt the sleep cycle. ZMA has been proven to help with this problem. There is an issue with ZMA and the problem with zinc and magnesium competing for absorption. One tends to overtake the other, depleting the potency. If you are taking ZMA and find the inflammation reduction or sleep increase is mild, taking the two separate may be the solution. Take a zinc an hour before bed and a magnesium a half hour before bed – the benefits of both should be notable. Never take either or ZMA with milk or anything with calcium – calcium blocks their absorption completely.
By adding these supplements to your daily regimen, you should see a great decrease in the amount of inflammation and the side effects associated with inflammation. If you are taking medication for a condition associated with inflammation, consult your physician before adding supplements to rule out any contraindications.