Inflammation—as we learned in “Silent fire: What to do about chronic inflammation”—is both friend and foe. In acute situations—say, after a cut or a bruising run—inflammation is the body’s initial response to repair wounds and initiate blood clotting. That heat, redness, pain, swelling or even a fever is all inflammation in action. Repairing injuries and staying alive is a good thing.
But too much inflammation can have an opposite effect, wreaking havoc on body systems. Chronic, low-grade inflammation indicates a body out of whack. It is a hallmark of most long-term health conditions you can think of: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome—even cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease seem linked to unhealthy low-grade inflammation.
The good news: Diet and supplements can positively shift the body’s inflammation response; both can provide relief rather quickly and resolve potential long-range health issues before they get out of hand. Here’s a handful of nutrients that can get your inflammation response to a healthy state.
Dairy has a healthy halo about it, and yogurt is known for its live active bacteria (probiotics) that modulate the bacterial balance in your digestive system. New research in the last year shows that by improving the function of the intestinal lining, yogurt can prevent pro-inflammatory toxins from leaking though the intestinal walls and into the body, and thus decrease internal inflammation.
In one study, researchers gave 60 women 12 ounces of low-fat yogurt a day for nine weeks, while 60 others consumed a benign nondairy pudding. Blood-sample results showed yogurt eaters had a significant reduction in various biomarkers of chronic inflammation, and a subset of overweight women also experienced lower blood pressure after three weeks.
The same researchers followed up that study by giving women a high-calorie, high-fat breakfast for nine weeks. But before they ate their 900-calorie meal, they first ate an 8-ounce serving of low-fat yogurt (another group ate the nondairy pudding).
After the meal, pro-inflammation biomarkers and blood sugar levels dropped by half for the yogurt-eating group. Seems the healthy dairy soothed the body from the greasy Jimmy Dean sandwich comprised of two sausages, an egg and cheese, along with two Mr. Dee’s hash brown servings. The yogurt used in the study was Yoplait.