Try natural supplements to reduce inflammation in the body.
There are supplements to reduce inflammation in the body that can be incorporated into your daily diet and routine. Chronic inflammation has recently been proposed as being the common underlying cause of the “four horsemen of the medical apocalypse”, which are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Inflammation has also been suggested as a biological cause of depression. And it is a hallmark of other diseases such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
The personal and economic burden of these diseases cannot be overstated. It is estimated that in the US, 90% of health care costs are for chronic and mental health conditions. This has led many doctors and scientists to recommend anti-inflammatory therapies for their patients.
Not surprisingly, some of the most widely prescribed drugs are anti-inflammatories (such as Celebrex) and the most widely used over-the-counter drugs also aim to reduce inflammation (such as Aspirin and Alleve). By 2030, the global market for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) is projected to reach over 31 billion USD. However, many of these drugs have serious side effects, such as hypersensitivity reactions and ulcers.
Given these risks, many people are turning to anti-inflammatory supplements to fight inflammation, some of which are highly effective and have fewer side effects than their pharmaceutical counterparts. A Google search for “anti-inflammatory supplements” yields a huge number of candidate treatments with anti-inflammatory properties, but there is confusion among consumers as to which ones are the most effective. In this article, I’ll present my top four favorite anti-inflammatory supplements, which have been selected based on the weight of scientific evidence supporting their use.
Before we look at what we can do to reduce inflammation, let’s first consider the inflammatory response. The inflammatory response is mediated by the immune system, specifically the innate (or non-specific) component. Inflammation protects the body from injury and infection. There are many goals of the inflammatory response, including reducing the extent of injury, limiting the spread of infection, and restoring the body back into balance.
There are three types of inflammation, which are mainly defined by their length.
- Acute inflammation is short-term, lasting days. Acute inflammation is what happens when you sprain your ankle, and it swells up, becomes warm, and may show color changes. That response is designed to limit movement, which prevents further injury and allows the damaged tissue to heal. If you looked at the blood under a microscope, you would see a lot of activity in this phase, with many white blood cells in the injured area doing work like cleaning up debris and dead cells.
- Sub-acute inflammation lasts from two to six weeks and often follows acute inflammation as healing progresses. The response here is like, but is less intense, than acute inflammation.
- Chronic inflammation lasts for months or even years, and at this point, inflammation has ceased to be a normal (and healthy) response to a stimulus and has become pathological.
Chronic inflammation is the type that is associated with most diseases. Chronic inflammation is not associated with visible signs of inflammation (such as redness, heat, and swelling), so people often aren’t even aware it is happening. Blood tests do show changes in chronic inflammation, including increased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), high ferritin, and high fibrinogen.
There will also be increases in cells called cytokines, which are proteins that help mediate the immune response, although these are not usually measured outside of a research setting. Chronic inflammation is associated with oxidative stress.
Chronic inflammation exerts some of its harmful effects on the body through the endocannabinoid system(ECS). The ECS is a complex system of molecules, enzymes, and receptors that is distributed throughout the body whose role is primarily to maintain balance or homeostasis.
The ECS is an important regulator of the immune system, which controls inflammation. So, maintaining a healthy ECS is critical to dealing with chronic inflammation. Many of the supplements described next support ECS function.
Anti-Inflammatory Supplements to Reduce Inflammation in the Body
Many dietary supplements, or natural health products, have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to reduce inflammation. Most of these can also be consumed as foods in a healthy diet. Here is a list of four especially potent anti-inflammatory supplements/foods.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in foods including eggs, fatty fish, and milk (to which it is added, rather than naturally occurring). Vitamin D is also formed in the skin following sun exposure. Vitamin D is a critical regulator of the immune system, and low levels of vitamin D are common. Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with inflammatory diseases.
Maintaining vitamin D sufficiency through supplementation, especially during the winter months, is important, and can be achieved with a good quality vitamin D3 supplement. It is very difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D during times of limited sun exposure with diet alone.
- CBD: CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid derived from cannabis as well as from hemp, a sub-species of cannabis. CBD from hemp was legalized in the US with the 2018 Farm Bill. CBD has been found to have many health benefits, most of which are mediated through effects on the ECS. Like vitamin D, CBD regulates immune function and inflammation.
CBD has been shown to interact with vitamin D receptors, raising levels of vitamin D in the body, which suggests that these two supplements could be taken together. CBD is usually taken by mouth as an oil or a water-soluble powder. CBD can also be applied to the skin which may help with local inflammation, but to tackle chronic inflammation deep in the body, it should be taken orally.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat found in certain seeds and fatty fish. There are both short- and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The main dietary short-chain omega-3 fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), while the main long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in flax seeds while EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel.
ALA, EPA, and DHA have all been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids can be consumed as supplements or in whole foods. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acidssupport the health of the ECS and reduce inflammation.
- Turmeric (Curcumin): Turmeric is a yellow spice that contains the chemical compound curcumin. Turmeric can be used to add flavor to foods and drinks, but it can also be consumed as a supplement. Curcumin from turmeric has been shown to decrease inflammation, and it has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of a range of chronic diseases. Research has found that turmeric interacts with the ECS to reduce pain and depression, which suggests that it mediates inflammation (at least in part) through effects on the ECS.
Things to Avoid?
Chronic inflammation is exacerbated by lifestyle habits, such as physical inactivity, smoking, stress, lack of sleep, and poor dietary habits such as eating too much sugar. The research showing that these habits are harmful is quite clear.
Health care providers also often recommend avoiding red meat to reduce inflammation, but the evidence linking red meat and inflammation is equivocal. In 2021, a meta-analysis that analyzed the effect of total red meat intake on biomarkers of inflammation from all previously published randomized controlled trials found no effect.
However, another meta-analysis that analyzed the associations between types of red meat and blood CRP found that consumption of total and mixed red meat caused this inflammatory biomarker to increase. It seems that certain types of red meat are more harmful than others, but more research is needed to better understand this relationship. Since greater consumption of red and processed meat has been linked to increased all-cause mortality, it is wise to consume these in moderation.
It is also often recommended that to reduce inflammation, dairy foods should be avoided. However, research does not support this recommendation. A 2020 meta-analysis found that dairy intake actually improves some biomarkers of inflammation, although it is likely that different types of dairy products have different effects. For example, fermented dairy products have been shown to be less inflammatory than non-fermented dairy products.
Another food that many people think is linked to inflammation is coffee. The evidence here is contradictory. A 2020 meta-analysis found that some studies showed no association between coffee intake and levels of CRP. Other studies found that coffee may worsen inflammation, but still others found that it reduced it.
According to the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, “consumption of 3 to 5 standard cups of coffee daily has been consistently associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases” and may lower inflammation. So, giving up your morning cup of joe doesn’t seem warranted currently.
These daily supplements to reduce inflammation in the body are a safe and proven way to take care of your health. Chronic inflammation is defined as inflammation that persists over several months to years. It is associated with a wide range of chronic diseases and is a massive public health burden. Chronic inflammation is mediated in part by the ECS, a system in our body that regulates homeostasis.
Many foods and supplements are available, including vitamin D, CBD, omega-3 fatty acids, and turmeric, all of which have anti-inflammatory benefits. These anti-inflammatory agents can be consumed in supplement form or as part of the diet.
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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions or before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program. Neither Dr. Genevieve Newton, publishers of this content, or Fringe, Inc. takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.