Inflammation is a normal body reaction that occurs as an immune response to fight infection and protect you from disease. It is characterised by redness of the skin, swelling and raised skin or body temperature. Under normal circumstances, these responses all help to heal your body by fending off contagion (infectious nasties!) and as such is quite normal. In fact, this response goes to show that your body is working well as it means your circulation, endocrine (hormonal) and immune systems are all doing their thing.
When inflammation levels increase and stay there for a prolonged period, this natural body response starts to become detrimental to your health, and it manifests in different ways. Any condition that ends in “-itis” is inflammatory, for example, tonsillitis, arthritis and so on.
Research into inflammation is beginning to broaden our understanding into its effects on your body and the resulting effects on overall health and wellbeing. The long-term effects may be far more wide ranging than previously thought and may underlie a wider range of conditions.
The great news is that a healthy and balanced diet can have a super positive effect on your immune system and lower your inflammation. As well as this, a number of particular nutrients can also increase the potency, number and efficacy of the infection-busting white blood cells.
So, there are some great ways to help reduce inflammation and restore your body’s healthy balance. Today we are looking at our top 5 supplements to support inflammation reduction, so read on to find out more now…
Our top five supplements to help your body to reduce inflammation are:
- Omega-3 Oils
- Gamma Lipoic Acid (GLA)
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Let’s have a look at each of these inflammation-combating wonders in turn!
The ground root of the turmeric plant, which is actually a member of the ginger family, has powerful antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation. Interestingly Turmeric’s name comes from the Latin terra merita that translates as ‘meritous earth’ – a likely reference to the beneficial properties of this super root.
Turmeric as an antioxidant has an effect roughly equivalent to that of Vitamins C and E. Antioxidant means that its activity helps to mop up free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules) and therefore protect against potential cell damage.
As an anti-inflammatory the active component is curcumin, and it works when applied topically or taken internally. Studies suggest that turmeric may have significant anti-carcinogenic benefits, and also indicate that it may lower blood cholesterol levels.
Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to that of cortisone in cases of acute inflammation. It is often used to reduce inflamed joints such as shoulders, knees and elbows. Further, it can also relieve the inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis. It can be used as a seasoning (although you’d need a lot to enjoy the therapeutic benefits – between 500-1000mg per day) - fortunately, it is readily available as a supplement.
When looking for a supplement make sure to check that the content of curcuminoids is 95% of the standardised turmeric root extract. Bear in mind too that for turmeric to be absorbed as effectively as possible by your body it ideally needs to be combined with black pepper or ginger. These act as catalysts for its absorption. Good quality supplements will include these but check the label to be certain.
Zinc plays a vital role in the protection and repair of cellular DNA and is vital to your immune system. It helps antibodies to fight infection because it is a powerful anti-oxidant. It is also crucial for healthy reproductive organs in both men and women and is needed for the production of healthy sperm in men, and a healthy foetus in pregnant women.
Because zinc reduces inflammation, a supplement is a beneficial treatment for acne and other skin complaints such as eczema. As an immune system booster, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, zinc can help to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
Foods rich in zinc are oysters, steak, wheatgerm, pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts. Yum!
Zinc supplements come in many forms and are often in combination with vitamin C (as fabulous immunity boosters). When looking for a supplement choose zinc picolinate, acetate, citrate, chelate or aspartate – these are all easily absorbed and gentle on the stomach. For the treatment of colds look for lozenges containing zinc gluconate, asorbate or glycinate.
Omega-3 oils are essential from protecting the brain and nervous system, they have pain-relieving properties and can have a strong influence on your mood. Additionally, they boost your immune system by reducing inflammation. In fact, a deficiency in Omega-3 can result in flare-ups of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.
The food most abundant in naturally occurring Omega-3 oil is oily fish (like sardines, mackerel and salmon). Veggie alternatives are flaxseed oil (also known as linseed oil) and hemp oil. Fish oils, Flax and Hemp oils are all available in supplement form. Vegan Omega-3 is now also available from Algae, and research is showing this to be an excellent alternative.
Other great food sources of Omega-3 Oils are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Seed-fest!
Gamma Lipoic Acid (GLA)
GLA is a fatty acid which is commonly used to ease rheumatoid arthritic pain, lessen inflammation of acne, rosacea, and muscle strains. It can also relieve the symptoms of eczema, PMS and menstrual cramps. The most common form of GLA is Evening Primrose Oil. This is a plant native to North America whose yellow blooms open at dusk. The oil is derived from the seeds and is widely available in supplement form.
Although your body can make GLA from other fats there is no specific food that has appreciable amounts of GLA. This means that to imbibe the benefits of GLA you need to take a supplement.
The fatty acids in evening primrose oil break down easily so when looking for a supplement check it also contains vitamin E, which slows down this process.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
ALA acts as a high potency antioxidant, neutralising highly reactive free radical molecules. It also has the capacity to act as an immunity booster. Your body manufactures minuscule amounts of ALA itself, and it is also present in some foods such as spinach, meats (liver particularly) and brewers yeast.
However, to obtain a therapeutic amount of 50 – 150mg per day, a supplement is usually preferred (it would take a LOT of spinach to get to that dose!).
It can be bought as an individual supplement or as a part of a general antioxidant booster, along with vitamins C and E, check the label to be sure (sometimes it is known as Thioctic Acid).
In general, to help reduce your inflammation the foods to avoid are animal fats found in meat and dairy produce, these stimulate the production of inflammatory agents. Also, processed foods and refined sugar suppress the immune system so these are best minimised or avoided.
As always, when it comes to choosing any supplement make sure you look for the best quality, as in this industry it is really true that you get what you pay for, and after all, it is going into your precious body! A high NRV percentage on the label is an indication of quality. Try to always buy from a reputable manufacturer that produces supplements with high purity, of the most absorbable forms, and minimal additional ingredients which are used as fillers or binders etc.
So, they are our top 5 supplements to help reduce inflammation! Let us know what you think? Do you use any of these already? Do you use anything else that you find gives you great results? Pop your answers in the comments below – we would love to hear from you!
Stay well and happy beautiful one, lots of love,
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