The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is a complex process that occurs following acute illness, injury, or other types of infections. In short, the immune system mounts an acute inflammatory response in order for the body to protect and heal itself. However, there is another ‘type’ of inflammation, known as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation differs from acute inflammation, in that, it is low-grade and found systemically throughout the body. It is this type of inflammation that poses a risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s. Further, unlike acute inflammation, which has a rapid onset and obvious symptoms, chronic inflammation slowly and oftentimes quietly wreaks havoc in our bodies.
Why We Are So Inflamed
A chronic state of inflammation in our bodies can be caused by several factors, including a nutrient poor diet (think processed foods), not getting enough sleep, how we handle stress, and other lifestyle factors like exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins. This is because all of these elements contribute to the amount of oxidative stress in our cells. Oxidative stress occurs when the level of free radicals we encounter overwhelms our endogenous antioxidant defenses. When this happens, chemicals like pro-inflammatory cytokines become triggered, which, in turn, increase the level of inflammation in our bodies.
How Diet Impacts Chronic Inflammation
While some of the factors contributing to chronic inflammation aren’t completely under our control, the situation is not as dire as it may seem. In fact, a choice we make multiple times a day can turn the tables on chronic inflammation; what we choose to eat. A malnourished and imbalanced system just can’t combat oxidative stress properly, nor readily shut down inflammatory processes when they are no longer beneficial to us. A well-nourished system? Well, that’s a whole other story.
Luckily, you don’t have to search far and wide to find the nutrients you need to keep chronic inflammation in check. Specifically, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) like Omega-6 and Omega-3 have an intimate relationship with inflammation, in that they play roles in turning inflammatory processes on and off as necessary. However, in order to do this, Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids need to be kept in a fine balance; a balance that the standard American Diet (SAD), unfortunately just doesn’t provide.
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids should be between 2:1 and 4:1. However, current estimates put the ratio at about 16:1. While this statistic may seem inflated at first glance, because the modern day Western food supply is both abundant in processed foods loaded with Omega-6’s and deficient in foods rich in Omega-3’s, it’s actually quite accurate.
Why the Omega-6:3 Ratio Matters
Linoleic acid is the primary Omega-6 fat found in foods, and too much of this acid increases the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals above and beyond normal physiological levels. This results in an exaggerated inflammatory response and a general state of systemic inflammation. In short, by taking in too much linolenic acid, the plant based precursor (i.e., alpha linolenic acid: ALA) of Omega-3 EPA and DHA can’t be converted. Since linoleic acid and ALA use the same enzymatic pathway for conversion, having an overabundance of one allows it to out compete the conversion of the other. Thus, an Omega-6:3 imbalance occurs, and consequently a decrease in your body’s ability to resolve your inflammatory response.
Signs of an Omega-3 deficiency may include fatigue, poor memory, immune system dysfunction, dry skin, eczema, and hair loss, cardiovascular issues, poor circulation, reproductive problems, and mood swings or depression. Basically, because Omega-3’s are necessary for numerous bodily processes, a lack of these essential fatty acids can impact almost every facet of your health. This should make fighting to attain and retain an ideal Omega-6:3 ratio an integral part of your healthy living arsenal.
How to Correct Your Omega-6:3 Ratio
Inflammation is a necessary process, thus the goal should never be to shut it down completely, but rather, program it properly. It appears that correcting the Omega-6:3 ratio is one way to help you do this. Modifying your ratio is a two-fold process that involves adjusting both Omega’s. First, start by decreasing your intake of Omega-6 linoleic rich processed foods that contain things like soybean, corn, and safflower oils. Also, if your diet is overly abundant in dairy products, eggs or meat, you’ll want to scale back on those some as well.
Next, you’ll need to significantly increase your Omega-3 EPA & DHA intake. While fatty fish have always been the primary food source for taking care of this, consuming enough fish to meet the minimum dietary requirements of EPA & DHA, just isn’t happening as a part of the typical SAD diet. Thus, a nutrient gap has formed between the amount of Omega-3’s Americans should be getting, and what we actually are. This gap has gotten so large that scientific experts have concluded, incorporating a high quality Omega-3 supplement in addition to dietary changes, maybe the only way for U.S. adults to meet their minimum EPA & DHA requirements.
Other Nutrients That Fight Chronic Inflammation
In addition to supplementing with Omega-3 EPA & DHA, you’ll also want to increase your fiber intake, as it has an influence on gut bacteria and subsequently, how some fatty acids are metabolized in your body. Next, opt for colorful non-starchy fruits and vegetables, as they contain a plethora of anti-inflammatory micronutrients! If you eat meat, swap a few servings for foods rich in plant-based proteins like beans, peas, and lentils. Lastly, spice up your life! Add an extra dash of cinnamon to your morning cup of coffee, put some pep in your tomato sauce with some fresh basil and oregano, or indulge in some cayenne or turmeric when making exotic dishes. All of these small changes will boost the effectiveness of your Omega-3 supplement and together, will help keep chronic inflammation at bay!
If you are ready to take the next step toward fighting chronic inflammation, then an Omega-3 supplement, like AstaMatrix® is your best bet. Why? Because AstaMatrix® has been formulated using the concept of nutrient synergy, which in short, means that when trying to attain optimal health benefits certain nutrients are just more potent when taken together. Thus, included in the AstaMatrix® formula are a whole host of hand-selected, complimentary, anti-inflammatory-rich nutrients like phospholipids, astaxanthin and delta-tocotrienol that synergistically interact with one another and our microalgae-based Omega-3 EPA and DHA, to combat chronic inflammation in multiple ways. AstaMatrix® will not only provide you with the Omega-3’s necessary to help you balance your Omega-6:3 ratio, but cellular antioxidant protection and so much more. AstaMatrix's® unique combination of synergistic nutrients results in a powerful and highly bioefficient formula that is unparalleled in the current marketplace. Give AstaMatrix® a try today and say goodbye to chronic inflammation for good!