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Inflammation: and why food & drink is important too!

February 8, 2012

We revisit Inflammation today to remind ourselves why it is important and why diet can be significant too:

“What is inflammation?”

Inflammation is your first line of defense against bacteria, toxins and viral infection.

Inflammation helps you repair and heal each and every cell of your body.

Without a healthy, powerful inflammatory process you could die.

However, as TIME magazine so subtly put its it; severe, chronic or uncontrolled inflammation is a killer.

Inflammation is brought about by too much of, or a lack of control of, the normal protective mechanisms found in the body.

In Katherine Esposito’s et al excellent review in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases (2004, Vol. 14, pp. 228-232), researchers conclude that:

obesityinsulin resistance, and diabetes are associated with a pro-inflammatory state, which in turn is associated with increased cardiovascular risk”

Other chronic conditions associated with inflammation include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s
  • Type-2 diabetes
  • Arthritis


“A biomarker is a term often used to refer to a protein measured in blood whose concentration reflects the severity or presence of some disease state.  More generally a biomarker is anything that can be used as an indicator of a particular disease state or some other physiological state of an organism”

Biomarkers for inflammation are numerous and include

  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Interleukins  IL-6, IL-10, IL-18
  • Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1)
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)

The link between inflammation and chronic disease has been strengthened by identification and acceptance of these biomarkers.

In the New England Journal of Medicine (2004, Vol. 351, pp. 2599-2610) the role of inflammatory markers in heart disease was investigated and they noted:

“Elevated levels of inflammatory markers, particularly C-reactive protein, indicate an increased risk of coronary heart disease”.

Obesity has also come under scrutiny.  In Clinical Science (2004, Vol. 107, pp. 365-369) researchers showed that overweight men who embarked on weight loss diets displayed significant reductions in levels of inflammatory biomarkers, IL-6, CRP, and TNF-alpha.   Fat tissue is known to produce TNF-alpha and IL-6, and:

“obesity itself promotes and potentiates artery furring or hardening”

Anti-inflammatory nutrients

Reducing the levels of biomarkers has been a target for a number of studies based on nutrition.  One of the most studied is the fatty acid omega-3 found in fish oil amongst other sources.

Manohar Garg (University of Newcastle, New South Wales) found that increased blood levels of the omega-3s DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) were associated with reduced levels of CRP (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009, Vol. 63, pp.1154-1156).

“The mechanism of omega-3 anti-inflammatory effects is reportedly linked to its ability to inhibit arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism to inflammatory compounds. DHA and EPA are also reported to produce compounds that are less inflammatory than those produced from AA or that are anti-inflammatory”

An extract from French maritime pine bark, Pycnogenol, has also shown promise.  German and Slovak scientists reported that a 200 mg dose of the pine bark extract for five days was associated with a 25 percent reduction in matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) levels (Journal of Inflammation, 2006, 3:1).

Other ingredients with anti-inflammatory potential include astaxanthin,vitamins C and D , folic acid, CoQ10 , resveratrol, chromium, L-carnitine and tea extract (see, Article 1Article 2).

The anti inflammatory properties of tea have been covered extensively on this webpage with the most recent review covered HERE

Anti-inflammatory properties of  ”super fruits”  are also being investigated.  Both açai (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, doi: 10.1021/jf8016157) and pomegranate (Journal of Inflammation, 2008, 5:9 & 2009, 6:1) have studies to support their anti-inflammatory effects.

More and more modern science is also catching up to the Ayurvedic doctors of the past.  At InnOrbit we are glad to see that various key ingredients are implicated in controlling INFLAMMATION:


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