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What is Inflammation and How It Can Impact Your Health

Inflammation is associated with a variety of diseases and health issues. You’ve probably heard that inflammation should be prevented, is dangerous, and contributes to various problems like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. But what exactly is inflammation?

In short, inflammation is your body’s response to disease, injury, or unwanted substances in the body. However, to fully understand the role of inflammation in your health, it’s important to distinguish between the two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation occurs when your body is infected or injured, and your immune system responds with an inflammatory response in which white blood cells and other cell-derived components designed to fight off pathogens are sent to the affected area. This type of inflammation is essential in keeping away infections and injuries, and is crucial to your body’s natural healing process.

However, chronic inflammation, which is when your inflammation persists for an extended period of time, is problematic. This long-term inflammation can last anywhere from months to years and results in tissue and organ damage, which leads to other health problems. This unchecked immune response is associated with heightened risk of cancer, asthma, allergies, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, heart disease, among other things.

To keep your health in check, it’s important to manage and control and reduce chronic inflammation. A poor diet, especially one high in fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, can cause high inflammation. Other foods, such as fatty fish, nuts, and leafy greens can help combat persistent inflammation.

Recently, turmeric has emerged as a superfood that has gained the spotlight for its numerous benefits, including its ability to regulate metabolism, improve cognitive function, and even help prevent cancer in some cases. It turns out that curcumin, the main active compound found in turmeric, can help fight inflammation, making turmeric one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory supplements out there.

Curcumin can interact with and target various molecules involved with inflammation. Various clinical trials have shown that curcumin may help combat diseases caused by inflammation, including inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer (1).

NF-κB, a transcription factor that is heavily involved in the inflammation process, is an important target in trying to reduce inflammation. NF-κB is associated with many types of cancer, increased chronic inflammation, and plays a central role in the survival and growth of unwanted cells. A study showed that curcumin is a potent inhibitor in the activation of NF-κB, therefore inhibiting inflammation in the body (2, 3).

In fact, many other in vitro, animal, and human studies have identified various other molecules involved in the inflammatory process that turmeric targets (4). Turmeric has been shown as a safe anti-inflammatory supplement that can be as effective as many anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, without the side effects (5).  

Many of the health benefits that are associated with turmeric are attributed to its strong anti-inflammatory effects. Incorporating this bright yellow spice into your diet can help prevent and combat many problems associated with inflammation, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.