When most experts talk about diabetes, they focus mainly on blood sugar level. However, new research shows inflammation plays a major role in diabetes. This article will pinpoint the most important facts about inflammation and its role in the development of diabetes. Also, it will provide you info about anti-inflammatory foods that could help you fight the inflammation in your body.
Is our inflammatory response good for us?
The inflammatory response is the most important defense mechanism of the body. Our immune system plays the key role in it, and without it, we couldn’t survive as a species. All living organisms on the Earth have some form of immune system that helps them fight infective germs that cover every cubic inch of the air and water on the planet.
“If it’s so important, why do I need to fight against it?” you may ask…
Well, not every inflammatory response is good for us.
Acute inflammation helps us fight infections (for example the swelling, itching and burning you feel when bit by a mosquito is an inflammatory response). It is a “good inflammation”.
Chronic inflammation is the one we want to fight. It is a prolonged process of low-grade inflammation that changes the hormonal profile of our body and damages the body tissues.
Chronic inflammation is the process that cannot resolve by itself (unlike acute inflammation), and it tends to get worse over time. Chronic inflammation is commonly seen in those with access body fat. This is also known as metabolic inflammation. People with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto thyroiditis, and psoriasis tend to have increased chronic inflammation.
What connects diabetes and inflammation?
The whole process is quite complicated, but let’s put it in simple words.
How does insulin work in healthy individuals?
Insulin, the hormone responsible for blood sugar regulation, needs to bind to its receptor exposed on a target cell. Once the insulin molecule “grabs” its receptor, the downstream signaling begins (a complex molecular cascade), the cell “opens” some of its transport channels, transferring the sugar from the blood into cells, that way lowering the blood sugar level.
What happens if there is chronic inflammation in the body?
Many studies show that inflammatory mediators (those are special signaling molecules that regulate inflammation intensity) disrupt insulin’s downstream signaling, so that blood sugar level remains increased for a longer time. This condition is known as “insulin resistance,” and it is “the first step towards diabetes”.[I]
What to eat to reduce the chronic inflammation intensity in the body?
The food that contains Omega-3 fatty acids (they can be found in flaxseeds, walnuts, walnut oil, fish oils, etc.) can actively heal inflammation by providing necessary nutrients that modulate the immune response.[ii] This is not the only benefit of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids – individuals that consume those in sufficient amount have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes[iii].
Also, blueberries, ginger, chia seeds, turmeric, wild salmon, red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, olive oil, black beans, spinach, and pineapple are just a small fraction of the food that is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. You should also increase the quantity of vegetables and fruit in your diet to get all the benefits of fiber.
Keep in mind that, when it comes to health, the secret is in the balance. A good diet plan and physical activity will help you maintain and improve your health. Consistency is another secret for to a long and healthy life. Eating healthy two days a week has the same effect on your health as eating healthy zero days in a week. Be patient, stay consistent with healthy habits and before you know it, you will notice the difference in messages your body sends you.
[I] Wellen, K. (2005). Inflammation, stress, and diabetes. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 115(5), pp.1111-1119.
[ii] Kirwan, A., Lenighan, Y., O’Reilly, M., McGillicuddy, F. and Roche, H. (2017). Nutritional modulation of metabolic inflammation. Biochemical Society Transactions, p.BST20160465.
[iii] Gebauer, S.K., Psota, T.L., Harris, W.S. and Kris-Etherton, P.M. (2006). n-3 Fatty acid dietary recommendations and food sources to achieve essentiality and cardiovascular benefits. Am J Clin Nutr., 83: p1526-35.