“Fire that is closest kept, burns most of all.”
A major research review, published in 2016 by the American Society for Nutrition, concluded that obesity and the health problems associated with it — such as high blood pressure, raised blood sugar levels and tummy fat — have a ‘substantial impact’ on the health of the immune system and defence against disease.
A review of almost 90 studies — in the journal Vaccine in 2015 — showed that those with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 don’t produce antibody cells in response to vaccination against infectious diseases such as flu, tetanus and hepatitis because their immune systems are already not working properly.
Millions of Britons are living with conditions linked to inflammation.
While obesity is the main cause of this and other chronic health problems — typically type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which also damage the body’s maintenance systems, including immunity — other conditions where inflammation is implicated include non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, where stored fat clogs up the liver (this affects an estimated one adult in three) and dementia, which is often a complication of heart disease and diabetes.
- Inflammation is a natural response of the body to infection and can manifest as heat, redness, and fever.
- Obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and COVID-19 can trigger inflammation.
- Overweight individuals have higher levels of inflammatory molecules called cytokines, which can damage normal cell functions and weaken the immune system.
- Obesity affects the immune system’s ability to produce antibody cells in response to vaccines, reducing their effectiveness.
- Conditions associated with inflammation include non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, dementia, and cancer.
- Feasting on fast food, which is high in fat, sugar, and low in fiber, can trigger inflammation and confuse the immune system.
- Ultra-processed foods containing artificial additives can also contribute to inflammation.
- Chronic inflammation is linked to an increased risk of cancer, and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for reducing cancer risk.
- The skin plays a role in immunity by sending signals to the immune system about infection.
- Skin inflammation, known as “inflamm-aging,” is associated with aging, sun damage, environmental stress, and reduced immunity.
- Aging skin experiences a decline in immune agents and an accumulation of inflammatory molecules.
- Inefficient immune cells contribute to the build-up of inflammation and make individuals more susceptible to skin infections.
- Skin immunity decline coincides with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Aging skin also experiences a redistribution of mast cells, leading to chronic itching.
Here are 10 ways to reduce inflammation in the body:
- Follow a healthy diet: Eat a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fatty fish.
- Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are high in trans fats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, which can increase inflammation.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps to lower inflammation by reducing body fat, improving circulation, and increasing antioxidants.
- Manage stress: Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that promotes inflammation. Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga can help reduce stress.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase inflammation, so it is important to get enough sleep each night.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking increases inflammation and can damage the lungs and other organs.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol can increase inflammation and damage the liver, so it is important to limit consumption.
- Use anti-inflammatory herbs and spices: Turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon are some of the anti-inflammatory herbs and spices that can be added to food or taken as supplements.
- Nicotine has also emerged as a candidate. Separated from the carcinogenic tar in tobacco, it has been shown to be highly effective in dampening this cytokine storm.
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