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Inflammation

For mental. physical and preventative health.


Inflammation is consistently discussed as the leading cause for the development of both chronic and acute illness. In times of injury or illness you can be sure that your body is in a high state of inflammation. Inflammation is beneficial to manage and mop up incidences and invasions though in excess (and for prolonged periods) a worsening of symptoms, further illness development and delayed recovery can be experienced.


Inflammation and the brain:


The latest focus in inflammatory research is directed towards its role in mental health. In general anxiety disorder (GAD) an increase in circulating inflammatory markers and low anti-inflammatory markers is observed. Additionally, a correlation has been made with the extent of inflammation and anxious symptoms experienced.

Cytokines (inflammatory mediators): Inflammatory cytokines are discussed to cross the blood brain barrier and induce neuro-inflammation which can contribute to behavioural responses. Cytokines have the ability to interfere with neurotransmitter metabolism and hormonal production.


Inflammation and injury:


When it comes to physical injury, observing the three phases of repair (1: destruction phase, 2: repair stage and 3: remodelling phase) is essential in recovery. These phases highlight the importance of inflammation management.

To Summarise these phases:

- 1 - Destruction Phase: Inflammatory cells are released to localise trauma.

- 2 - Repair Phase: Repair of the damaged site.

- 3 - Remodelling Phase: Remodelling of all elements surrounding injury to regain full motion.

In overexcited inflammation repair and remodelling cannot commence adequately thus extending the time of injury and delaying recovery.


Treatment:


Common treatments involve prescriptions that lead to side effects often seen in the abdominal region and gastrointestinal system.


Nutritional strategies:


Some basic guidelines to assist in managing inflammation on a daily basis include:


· Avoid processed/refined foods: Foods in a package or that have been overly refined from their original state have been associated with inflammation and inflammatory driven symptoms. Stick to (as best you can) fresh whole foods.

· Manage stress: Increased stress is linked to an increase in inflammatory biomarkers as well as poor food choices. As we live in a fast paced world productive management of stress and stressors is essential. Getting outside in nature and practicing mindfulness are two great techniques to touch back down with yourself.

· Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables: The high antioxidant status of fresh fruits and vegetables (and whole grains) has been associated with a lowering of inflammation.


Dietary inclusions of anti-inflammatory foods:


· Omega-3 fatty acid: (Found in fish, walnuts, flax seed and hemp seed) Omega-3 lowers the production of pro-inflammatory mediators and assists in supporting the adrenal glands in times of high stress.

· Flavonoids: Plant derived compounds that exert benefits such as anti-oxidant, anti-tumour, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral effects. Some flavonoids that are associated with lowering of inflammation are berries, tomato skins, lemons, onions, turmeric and grapefruit.

· Vitamin C: (Found in kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, broccoli and strawberries) Vitamin C is an electron donor and thus an antioxidant. By managing oxidative species vitamin C contributes greatly to anti-inflammation. Vitamin C is observed to stabilise inflammatory cells and support collagen production. So along with managing inflammation vitamin C also assists in repair.

· Vitamin A: (Found in sweet potato, carrot, spinach and eggs) Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and thus is absorbed better along side a good source of fat (avocado, nuts..). Vitamin A is an antioxidant and a mucus membrane supporter and healer. Vitamin A assists in defence and repair.

· Zinc: (Found in whole grains, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, eggs and almonds) Zinc supports hydrochloric acid production (supporting adequate breakdown of foods and management of intruding substances), reduces intestinal leakage, enhances collagen production (wound healing) and neurotransmitter health.


Inflammation is a by-product of the world we live in, though through conscious and educated dietary choices it can be managed.



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BHSc Nutritional Medicine

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