Inflammation: Role of Prostaglandins: How Diet Reduces Their Effect
Dubbed the “silent killer”, chronic inflammation is an insidious condition that can gnaw the body for years before symptoms appear. Chronic inflammation is multi-factorial with several contributing elements, ranging from trauma, stress, infection, injury, to exposition to chemical agents and free radicals that cause cell injury and provoke an inflammatory reaction.
Systemic inflammation called low-grade or persistent inflammation, produces a consistent, slow-growing inflammatory reaction throughout the body that can go on for years, affect many organs in the body and eventually lead to arthritis, heart disease, and even cancer if it’s gone too long untreated.
Many immune system cells are involved in the inflammatory response. Lymphocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils travel through the blood stream to the site of injury in an attempt to repair the damaged tissue. An exception to this rule is prostaglandins which are produced in all cells and get released at the site of injury.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like lipid substances induced by an enzyme called cyclooxygenase2 (Cox2) acting on arachidonic acid, a type of fat present in all cell membranes to give them structure. There are four types of prostaglandins: Prostaglandin E2, prostaglandin D2, Prostaglandin F2a, and prostaglandin I2. Depending on the location of their release, prostaglandins act as signaling molecules to mediate inflammation, homeostasis of different physiological processes including ovulation, blood pressure, and blood vessel dilation, just to cite a few.
During inflammation, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is released. This particular prostaglandin prolongs and increases the intensity of inflammation. Medication such as Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra are Cox2 inhibitors that block the synthesis of prostaglandins by acting on the enzyme Cox2 to stop its stimulation. Unfortunately, while the production of prostaglandins may be hindered, the problem still remains. It is best to identify the root of the inflammation and remedy the situation before altering the body’s biochemistry. But when in pain, these medications can provide relief.
In my practice I see a lot of systemic inflammation triggered by a diet high in arachidonic acid (all animal foods such as meat and dairy are high in arachidonic acid), coupled with a low intake of antioxidants. Thus, in addition to drug therapy, adopting a diet low in arachidonic acid, saturated fat, fried food can help decrease inflammation in the body. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, fresh basil, and mint provides chlorophyl which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger, garlic, turmeric, onions are also anti-inflammatory foods as well as being affordable and available in any regular grocery store. Dark leafy greens, citrus, kiwi and berries add a plethora of antioxidants proven in many studies to tame inflammation. Nuts and seeds contain healthy proteins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids which are known to treat inflammation. An important action of omega 3 fatty acids is to prevent arachidonic acid from leaking out of cell membranes, thus limiting prostaglandin synthesis.
While designing an anti-inflammatory diet it is important to supplement properly to give the body a boost. During inflammation, the immune system releases a lot of toxic waste and free radicals. Supplementing with vitamin C, zinc, magnesium and B complex will assist the liver in phase I and II detoxification process so toxins can be eliminated safely.
I also advise my clients to use some botanicals such bucher’s broom, quercetin, resveratrol, boswellia, and rosemary extract. These botanicals can reduce swelling, redness and pain from inflammation. A word of caution when it comes to curcuma which often comes with these botanicals, it is a blood thinner and a high dose can cause bruising or other complications.
My advice is to consult a clinical nutritionist or functional medicine doctor for guidance with an anti-inflammatory diet and a supplement recommendation. Purchasing supplements over the counter may be ineffective due to the diluted dosage of the essential ingredient or it can lead to harmful side effects.
Inflammation is not a disease. It is the body’s cry for help and a tool for healing. A healthy diet can prevent inflammation and enable the body to defend itself against assailants and free radicals and keep the immune system in check.
Contact us today for a complimentary diet evaluation. We can review your diet, advise you on appropriate testing, supplementation, and how to reduce pro-inflammatory foods in your diet. This is our gift to you for visiting this site. Join our facebook group for free classes and nutrition support and guidance.