Inflammation is a hot topic right now.
More and more research indicates that most disease – including all chronic disease – begins with some kind of inflammation. If you could control inflammation and improve your health, you’d want to, right?
Inflammation is vital as part of the healing process. It defends the body against foreign invaders (including bacteria and viruses), repairs damaged tissue, restricts damaging motion through swelling, and a lot more.
So inflammation’s good, but in excess – like chronic inflammation – it’s bad.
Much can be said about health and inflammation, but this article will touch on only a few points.
What Triggers Inflammation?
One trigger is the food we eat – and sugar tops the list for several reasons.
• Sugar triggers pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Cytokines are small proteins that work as signal molecules. They summon cells to infection sites, trauma, and inflammation. Sugar may promote pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduce anti-inflammatory cytokines.
• Sugar triggers AGEs (advanced glycation end products).
Other foods high on the glycemic index do, as well, by promoting high insulin release. AGEs stimulate inflammation and have been linked with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and such age-related diseases as Alzheimer’s and stroke.
• Sugar suppresses white blood cell activity.
White blood cell activity is a natural part of the healing process. When the process is suppressed, healing may be incomplete. Chronic inflammation can result.
• Sugar triggers the release of inflammatory prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are short-lived, hormone-like chemicals, produced by the body’s cells. Instead of moving through the bloodstream, these hormones move from cell to cell and regulate all kinds of cellular activities.
Some prostaglandins are good, some bad.
Different Fats Make 3 Prostaglandin “Series”
Series 1 prostaglandins do things most people recognize as beneficial. They dilate blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, stop unnecessary blood clotting, decrease risk of autoimmune disease, improve immune function, improve insulin sensitivity, decrease pain, decrease inflammation, decrease the need for sleep, and alleviate depression.
This is only a partial list – Series 1 also do much, much more.
These Series 1 hormones are made from omega-6 dietary fatty acids. Examples include black current seed, flaxseed, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, walnuts, borage oil, evening primrose oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, and others.
Series 2 Prostaglandins: Bad News For Health
Series 2 prostaglandins essentially reverse the Series 1 functions on the list above (and many more). Series 2 hormones promote pain and inflammation, making them a prime culprit in disease.
Series 2 are also made from omega-6 fatty acids. This is where diet and insulin play a role. High insulin secretion – triggered by sugar, for example – will cause different enzymes to act on the omega-6 fats. That results in the production of Series 2 hormones, rather than Series 1.
Besides sugars, foods that trigger high insulin include processed and refined carbs (like white bread), saturated fats, alcohol, and others.
Omega 3 and Series 3 To The Rescue!
Series 3 prostaglandins are made from omega-3 fatty acids. Series 3 reduce the negative effects of Series 2, decrease inflammation, and enhance immune function. We hear about omega-3s all the time because they have anti-inflammatory benefits. That effect can reduce what’s now recognized as the cause of most or all disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids include dark green leafy vegetables, fish, black currant seed, flaxseed, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, and walnuts.
How Can You Reduce Your Insulin Impact?
1. Avoid junky carbs – like sugar and white flour. Limit alcohol. These trigger high insulin release, leading to the production of cytokines, AGEs, Series 2 prostaglandins, and suppressed white blood cell activity. It’s a recipe for inflammation.
2. Eat omega-3 fats. Many of them also contain omega-6s, so you’ll get the precursors of Series 1 and Series 3 prostaglandins – the good guys.
3. Avoid all-carb meals or snacks whenever possible. Eat carbs as part of a healthful meal every time you eat – including snacks. It will help modify insulin secretion and limit inflammation.
Reducing the insulin impact of your diet can help reduce the production of inflammatory substances in the body: cytokines, AGEs and Series 2 prostaglandins. In turn, that may help you decrease your risk of serious diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, and inconvenient ones, such as colds.