Preventing inflammation

New research has shown that a condition known as chronic inflammation can be linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer. Currently chronic inflammation is treated with drugs which cause the inflammation to subside. Scientists are now looking into what causes the inflammation, and how this condition may be prevented.

Inflammation is a natural response. Areas of your body become inflamed when they are exposed to injury or outside irritants. If they didn’t, you would be unable to heal properly. If, however, the irritant does not go away, the inflammation cannot subside. A growing body of research is showing that abdominal fat and an unhealthy diet can lead to chronic inflammation.

For example, when you eat a high-fat meal your bloodstream is flooded with ‘bad’ cholesterol. Your white blood cells then rush to the besieged areas, and embed themselves in the artery walls, in order to gobble up excess lipids. This causes damage to the arteries, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke. If you eat high-fat meals all the time, your body never has a chance to recover, which causes chronic inflammation.

What can you do?
If you are overweight, the first step is to reduce your abdominal fat. Even losing a couple of kilos can help. You can also try eating foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or canola oil, increasing your dietary fibre, which can help to prevent insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), and ensuring you get three servings daily of low-fat dairy to help reduce inflammation. Just be sure to check that any low-fat foods you purchase do not have added sugar or artificial sweeteners, as these can also cause health problems.

To find out more about chronic inflammation and its links to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer, read the Wall Street Journal’s article The new science behind America’s deadliest diseases.