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Some foods, exercise may help lower inflammation.

What does arthritis, heart disease, cancer and chronic pain all have in common?

All involve a chronic inflammatory response that ultimately results in the elevation of one specific inflammatory compound termed Nuclear Factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells or, more simply, NF-kB.

NF-kB describes a family of similar proteins controlling DNA transcription and production of other inflammatory compounds. It's vitally important in regulating the immune response to bacterial, fungal and viral infections, but NF-kB levels need to be balanced.

Not enough NF-kB increases the risk of serious infections. Too much NF-kB increases the risk of some cancers and life-threatening autoimmune disease.

Suppressing the overproduction of NF-kB has been demonstrated to lower the risk of many serious illnesses.

Indeed, some medications specifically inhibit the production of NF-kB by the body. However, suppression by medications may increase the risk of some cancers.

Fortunately, there are a number of

non-pharmaceutical therapies that regulate the production of NF-kB without the side effects found in NF-kB reducing medications. These are anti-inflammatory foods, some herbs and supplements, moderate exercise (emphasis on the word moderate) and stress reduction therapies like meditation.

There are thousands of medical studies detailing the anti-inflammatory properties of fruits and vegetables. Berries, green tea, avocados, peppers, and grapes all have potent anti-inflammatory compounds that affect NF-kB levels. A word of caution for grapes, peppers and berries. They may contain high levels of pesticides and herbicides.

Berries with the seeds on the outside will actually incorporate these compounds into the meat of the fruit. Washing does not help. For these I recommend organic if available.

A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods should be the foundation stone of all medical therapies. Dr. Andrew Weil has condensed much of this information in his interactive food pyramid at

NF-kB influences the production of many other inflammatory molecules creating a cascading inflammatory response. Numerous cultures across the world and through time have used natural compounds for pain (inflammation). We now know that these compounds regulate the levels of NF-kB.

Aryurvedic medicine seems to be a treasure trove of herbs and plants that have potent NF-kB modulating activity. It is now well-known that the spices curcumin and turmeric have profound anti-inflammatory properties.

The sap of the Boswellia tree (frankincense) contains boswellic acids that down-regulate NF-kB production. Anti-inflammatory compounds termed withanolides in the plant Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) reduces NF-kB levels.

Other plants that can lower NF-kB levels include a plant found in South Africa called devil's claw. It contains harpagosides that are profoundly anti-inflammatory.

The gingerols and shogaols found in ginger, genistein from soy and silymarins in milk thistle all have been historically used to treat arthritis pain. We now know that much of their effect is through the modulation of NF-kB levels.

There is excellent medical evidence indicating that lifestyle is the main contributor to all illness and disease in the United States. There are also good epidemiologic studies showing that those cultures whose lifestyles include anti-inflammatory foods and supplements have a reduced risk of cancer, autoimmune and heart disease and diabetes, quite possibly the result of lower NF-kB levels.
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Title Annotation:Health Fitness
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jul 29, 2019
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