A few years ago, a look into any anti-inflammatory diet in various blogs and journals seemed trivial to me. That has since changed. However even today the real life effects and the impact of anti-inflammatory foods are still vague to many minds.

Realizing now that I would want to live for thousands of years to explore exoplanets, reversing or even stopping the degenerative process of aging is of paramount importance. But what is even of super paramount importance is the fact that we are going to be in our present bodies for as long as human cloning is impossible.

This rationale along with the benefits of staying healthy is why taking care of your body is extremely important; while tissue damage on the other hand is extremely detrimental and a compromise to longetivity. One particular tissue damaging factor is chronic inflammation.

One of the crucial aspects of reducing the rate at which aging manifests is to avoid tissue damage.

So What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a response to various harmful stimuli such as bacteria, chemicals or even physical injury [1]. In the event that anything harmful invades your tissues, a protein complex present in all tissues known as NF-κB initiates an immune response that rushes in to deal with the intruder.

The various peptides that work through NF-κB activate this immune response by inducing inflammation. In healthy tissues this inflammation persists only long enough for the immune system to get rid of the harmful stimuli. Once the tissue is cleared of harmful stimuli, the inflammatory peptides are suppressed and inflammation stops. This is known as acute inflammation which is very helpful in keeping our tissues disease free and fully functional.

Acute inflammation is helpful to your tissues.

When Inflammation Goes Wrong?

Any working system however is subject to malfunction. This especially applies to biological systems given the fact that endogenous and exogenous variables are way too many. Sometimes, once the harmful stimuli has been resolved, the inflammatory peptides are not suppressed but rather persist. This leads to a prolonged inflammation which is detrimental to tissues. This type of inflammation is known as chronic inflammation.

Some diseases that result from chronic inflammation include asthma, autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, autoinflammatory diseases, glomerular nephritis, cancer and many more; all of which are hard to treat and potentially irreversible[2,3].

Suppressing inflammation once the stimuli has been eliminated is mainly the function of an enzyme known as COX-2 [4]. This enzyme is primarily responsible for activating inflammatory peptides. Suppressing COX-2 therefore stops inflammation and averts chronic inflammation.

A class of pharmaceutical drugs known as NSAIDs work by inhibiting COX-2. Such drugs include aspirin, diclofenac, piroxicam etc. They work well but not without detrimental side effects [5]. However when taken as per the prescription which includes avoiding an overdose as well as avoiding prolonged use, these side effects do not develop.

Chronic inflammation is what causes tissue damage resulting in diseases that are hard to cure and potentially irreversible

What then is the Role of a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

What happens when inflammation keeps recurring in your tissues? This is quite common and could be as a result of various bacteria present in the environment, environmental allergens such as pollen grains, autoimmune responses or even more importantly old age which somehow is plagued by chronic inflammation [6].

Dependence on NSAIDs in such instances is detrimental due to the acute side effects of prolonged use. Good news is that nature provides an alternative to such drugs. Various natural bio-active compounds have been identified that suppress COX-2 via a careful regulation of the complex NF-κB [7,8]. What’s even better is that these anti-inflammatory compounds have no side effects  and cannot be overdosed.

Normally by the time chronic inflammation manifests into asthma, arthritis or any chronic inflammatory disease, the cells in the tissue have already incurred damage which includes DNA damage [9]. Regular intake of natural anti-inflammatory compounds carefully regulates inflammation and prevents the disease from manifestation. As such the role of these compounds is preventive rather than curative. Prevention ultimately averts tissue damage.

Natural anti-inflammatory compounds prevent chronic inflammation while posing no side effects.

Is it Too Early or Too late?

While still at a young age, regular intake of such compounds plays a significant role of preventing tissue damage and the occurrence of inflammatory diseases later in life. Like we said once chronic inflammatory diseases manifest they are hard to treat and potentially irreversible.

For the elderly who sadly may have already developed such diseases, regular intake of natural anti-inflammatory compounds prevents these conditions from getting worse while also reducing the prolonged reliance of NSAIDs which is common with old age.

It’s never to early or too late to start incorporating foods with natural anti-inflammatory compounds. It all depends on how dedicated you are in taking care of your body.

Naturally Occurring Bio-Active Anti-inflammatory Compounds [10]

Some of the most active natural anti-inflammatory compounds tested on cultured human cells include:

  • Curcumin from tumeric
  • Resveratrol from grapes
  • Catechins from green tea
  • Theaflavins from black tea
  • Vitamin E from sunflower seeds, almonds, nuts and pumpkin seeds.
  • Chicory root extract
  • Ursolic acid from rosemary
  • Zinc from legumes and whole grains
  • Polyphenols from red wine

Note that acquiring these compounds from whole foods is very important!

 

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