Did you know that half of the Australian population lives with a chronic disease? Chronic inflammatory diseases have reached epidemic levels in many countries; they can occur throughout the body and affect all body systems. You may be currently managing one of these conditions, such as asthma and allergies, obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis, or cancer. The good news is that by resolving the inflammation that underlies these conditions, you may experience reduction in symptoms or reduce the risk of these conditions occurring.
Inflammation: the new epidemic?
Inflammation is a protection mechanism; the body’s natural and healthy response to injury or threat. When the body is exposed to an injury, microbe or tissue damage, these stimuli will call the inflammatory ‘troops’ to the area to help address the issue. Inflammation will prevent further injury by causing:
- Swelling – immobilises the area to prevent further damage;
- Pain – reminds the brain to protect the area and forces the body to stop and rest; and
- Redness – increases blood flow to the area to aid healing.
In small amounts and for a short term period, inflammation is a beneficial process that prevents further injury and induces the healing process. However, when this process fails to resolve, the ongoing presence of pain, redness and swelling creates new problems; the development of chronic inflammatory disease.
SPMs help switch off inflammation
The body is very effective at switching inflammation ‘on’, but how does it switch it ‘off’? It does this by creating specific messenger cells called Specialised Pro-Resolving Mediators (SPMs) which migrate to the inflammation source in the body and help turn off or resolve the inflammatory process. SPMs are made from omega-3 essential fatty acids, mainly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), obtained from fish oil. Unfortunately, during chronic inflammation states, your body’s ability to produce these SPMs is compromised, which leaves the inflammation switch in the ‘on’ position, leading to chronic pain and other symptoms.
Fish oil and SPMs work together to reduce inflammation
While derived from fish oil, SPMs have unique properties that differ from those of fish oil. Fish oil is the perfect first line of defence when it comes to combating inflammation generally, especially if dietary intake is inadequate or if there is an increased demand (e.g. pregnancy). SPMs may be considered the second line of defence and have a key role in resolving existing chronic inflammation. As they have complementary actions, there is benefit in taking both fish oil and SPMs together – fish oils can prevent new inflammation from occurring while SPMs resolve existing inflammation; making it perfect for targeting the chronic disease conditions mentioned above.
Live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle
The following tips can help reduce inflammation in your daily life, for better health:
- Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet: The food you consume can help to reduce the overall inflammatory load on the body. Get creative experimenting with some of the following foods in your daily diet: oily fish, olive oil, avocado, walnuts, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, dark leafy green vegetables, blueberries, purple grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot and carrot.
- Incorporate gentle movement: Moving your body increases emotional resilience, improves pain management, and range of motion. Try low impact activities such as yoga, tai-chi, walking, cycling, water aerobics and swimming.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration causes your muscles and joints to shrivel up, so it makes sense that having well hydrated ‘juicy’ and fluid muscles and joints helps ease pain. Aim to drink 30 mL of water per kilogram of body weight each day.
- Sleep soundly: Your body does its best repair work when you are solidly catching Z’s. Ensuring you are getting adequate rest is vital to heal the inflamed parts of your body.
Do you need help putting out the inflammation fire?
If you are stuck in the cycle of chronic inflammation with recurring pain and symptoms, SPMs and other natural medicines can help resolve the underlying inflammation and support your body’s ability to heal, to provide you with greater relief.