Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s our immune system’s attempt to alert the rest of the body of a potential substance or invader that could harm it, and then a trojan horse of white blood cells deploy to protect it. Think: pathogens, damaged cells, and toxic compounds. Inflammation is a signal that something is wrong and we need to heal, stat.
However, in modern society, inflammation is rampant. We suffer inflammation coming from every angle—internally and externally, from pollution, toxic products, pesticides and hydrogenated oils on our food, processed sugar, stress, etc. Inflammatory pathways can cause breakouts, rashes, premature aging, poor digestion, reproductive issues, hormonal imbalances, and even serious tissue damage and disease, which makes it now our rallying crusade. We’re in constant battle against inflammation.
There are many ways to defend against inflammation. Quality sleep is one of them, and staying hydrated is another. Making sure to exercise and move our lymph and get good circulation is helpful when it comes to healing and immune strength. But we can also actively work toward a daily anti-inflammatory diet, and make sure we are using anti-inflammatory compounds in our topical products to prevent or treat skin flare-ups. Here are some great allies to look for:
This golden root can be juiced, but is easiest kept around in powder form. It contains a compound known as curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is an active compound that interacts with the causes of inflammation on a molecular level. Use it in cooking, or warm up a cozy and comforting cup of golden milk. Just don’t forget the black pepper. We need black pepper to make the potent properties of curcumin bio-available to us.
This refreshing, lightly caffeinated beverage should be a staple in everyone’s daily diet due to its incredible anti-inflammatory effects, as well as a slew of other benefits. It is loaded with antioxidants to fight free-radical damage, but it also contains a compound known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. The National Library of Medicine tells us that green tea and EGCG “suppress the gene and/or protein expression of inflammatory cytokines and inflammation-related enzymes.”
This root is not so pretty looking, but is naturally sweet and yes, responsible for everyone’s favorite Red Vines … you either love them or you don’t! However, making a tea from the root or using the powder or a tincture is a great way to get the most from this potent extract. Studies show that it contains three triterpenes (chemical compounds with strong antioxidant activity) and 13 flavonoids (which help regulate cell activity and fight free radicals) that show strong anti-inflammatory action. Traditional Chinese Medicine breaks it down by explaining that it stimulates digestive function, eliminates excess mucus, nourishes qi, and alleviates pain.
This vital little ingredient is one of our favorites to lock away in our skincare glossary for many reasons. Not only does it fight cancer-causing effects of long-term exposure to UV rays, but it helps to stabilize the skin barrier, lock in moisture, promote collagen synthesis, and improve surface texture. It is also, of course, on theme with anti-inflammatory properties. It actively reduces inflammation and redness in acne and rosacea with regular topical use. Yeah, it’s what we deem a “hero” ingredient by far.
While zinc supplements are important for immune support, topical application has profound anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. It has been shown to have photoprotective and soothing agents, and is super effective in treating inflammatory conditions like dermatitis, acne, warts, and rosacea.
Think fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, as well as plant sources of fat like avocados, olive oil, and nuts like almonds and walnuts. That’s because, according to the National Library of Medicine, omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are precursors of termed eicosanoids (lipid mediators), which help regulate inflammation so it doesn’t become chronic or spread.
Not only soothing for inflamed sun-burnt skin, aloe is also fantastic for inflammation in the digestive tract. Studies show that it inhibits oxygen metabolite reactions that tend to cause inflammation in the bowels, in addition to providing slip and fiber for easy, ehem, movements.
Berries are low in sugar, high in fiber, and great for brain health. They are also packed with the kinds of antioxidants that help fight inflammation. They make an excellent midday snack to boost brain power and get a hit of energy.
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