October 26, 2020

Why inflammation is as important as blood sugar

Learn about how inflammation effects your body

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is not only what happens to your sprained ankle after a wild night of dancing or graciously falling down a ski slope - it is a major player in your body’s response to invaders (think germs, toxic chemicals and anything else nasty you don’t want circulating around in your blood stream), and as it turns out, a very important part of your overall health.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and is the first step of any healing process. If a virus has entered your body, or you’ve accidentally cut yourself on your new kitchen knives, your body sends white blood cells to the site of infection or injury where they release chemicals to protect you and to call for backup.

As it turns out, this inflammation response is closely linked to your blood sugar. The chemical messengers used by your immune response - cytokines - can eventually cause insulin resistance. High blood sugars have been linked to increased inflammation, and it has been shown that individuals with higher blood sugar have a larger inflammatory response to the same trigger than those with lower blood sugar.

If your blood sugar was named Juliet, your inflammatory response would be its Romeo - here to trigger a cascading series of dramatic events that will eventually end up in less than ideal health consequences. If your blood sugar was named Scooby, your inflammatory response would be a standard bad guy wearing a sheet - here to cause trouble and make you want to excessively snack on Scooby snacks. If your blood sugar was na- oh you get the point.

Why should you care?

We know what you’re thinking - “my body’s got me covered”.  And it certainly does - inflammation is an amazing system to deal with acute damage and threats. However, inflammation also tends to be a bit of a… drama queen. This is where chronic inflammation comes into the picture.

Chronic inflammation occurs when you constantly get exposed to things that light up your immune system (e.g. certain foods, stress and excess fat). This causes your immune system to continue to call for backup and to send out its chemical messengers to the rest of your body. This continuous state of heightened inflammation can cause longterm health issues related to your heart, your blood sugar, your cells and your gut, and has been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

The constant state of inflammation can further cause oxidative stress to your cells, which in the long run can cause DNA mutation and damage, contributing to the risk of developing cancer and other age-related diseases.

Chronic inflammation affects us all in this modern era, and is a major threat to your current and future health. Most of us eat inflammation triggering food (cookies, candy, red meat, dairy products, fast food, bread, alcohol - just to name a few) and then directly move onto experiencing inflammation triggering stress (unread emails, family arguments, an ever-growing anxiety about what to say to your coworker about their horrible new haircut, etc.), and eventually end up stuck in an chronic inflammation loop.

What causes inflammation?

As always, researchers and scientists argue day in and day out about what exactly causes inflammation, but there are at least a few things that the scientific community agrees are common causes:

  • All the food you love
  • All the stress you hate

The food you eat is a major factor, and inflammation can be caused by a variety of foods such as:

  • Sugar - think desserts, pastries, chocolate, sodas
  • Saturated fats - think red meat, dairy products
  • Trans fats - think fast food, fried foods, cookies, donuts
  • Excess Omega-6 fatty acids - think corn oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil
  • Refined carbohydrates - think bread, white rice, white potatoes
  • Alcohol

Stress is also an important part of the puzzle - when you are stressed, your body prepares for damage by cranking up the inflammatory response. So in the long run, chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation.

How to prevent inflammation?

The game is not lost yet - there are so many things you can do to reduce chronic inflammation and its impact on your life. There are several lifestyle changes that can help lessen chronic inflammation, all related to either reducing the inflammatory triggers or increasing anti-inflammatory actions.

To reduce inflammatory triggers, try to reduce the foods discussed earlier and consider implementing stress reduction and management techniques such as meditation, yoga, time in nature or a personal favourite - screaming about all of your problems at the vast, non-judgemental ocean.

Just like there are foods with inflammatory properties, there are several options with anti-inflammatory properties - some good options include healthy fats (like Omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil, flaxseed oil and canola oil), avocados, walnuts and most fruit and vegetables (especially colourful ones like oranges, tomatoes and leafy greens).

Omega 3s can be used by your body to produce chemicals called resolvins and protectins, which work hard to keep your inflammatory cells calm and quiet. Another option is turmeric, which contains polyphenol curcumin, a substance with proven anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. If you choose to try out turmeric, consider combining it with black pepper, as the piperine in the pepper can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%. If piperine doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, you could also take curcumin phytosome - a type of curcumin that has been bound to phospholipids to make your body absorb it better (in fact, 2900% better).

Regular exercise (e.g. a daily 30-minute walk during your lunch break) not only helps lowers your blood sugar - it also lowers inflammation levels throughout your entire body.

But maybe most importantly, find out how your body responds to your lifestyle and what triggers inflammation in you

So where does blood sugar come into this? Well:

  • High blood sugar levels have been associated with inflammation;
  • Individuals with higher blood sugar have a larger inflammatory response to the same trigger than individuals with lower blood sugar;
  • Increased inflammation can lead to insulin resistance

You can therefore look at your blood sugar as a window into your inflammatory response. Reduced inflammation leads to reduced insulin resistance, which means you can naturally improve your body’s ability to reduce your blood sugar levels. We here at Veri have gotten a lot of information and guidance out of testing lifestyle changes (reducing sugar intake, sigh) and then tracking our blood sugar responses.

We therefore suggests these four life changing steps:

1. Implement a lifestyle change that has the potential to reduce inflammation
2. Track your blood sugar to see how your body is responding to this change
3. Repeat step 1 and 2 until you have find what works for you
4. Live happily ever after, sans the chronic inflammation

And don’t you worry, we wouldn’t leave this blog post without a subtle transition into shameless self-promotion. Veri is a painless, simple and honestly stylish Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system, that helps you analyse your body’s reaction to different food items and helps you be in control of your blood sugar.

We want you to lead a healthy lifestyle, reduce inflammation and to use our 14 Day Metabolic Health Program to witness the change in your blood sugar levels firsthand.

References

  1. A. Buyken et al., “Carbohydrate nutrition and inflammatory disease mortality in older adults”, 2010. Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. URL: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/92/3/634/4597464
  2. C. de Luca and J. Olefsky, “Inflammation and Insulin Resistance”, 2008. Published in FEBS Letters. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2246086/
  3. COVID Symptom Study, “Inflammation, diet, weight and COVID-19: what’s the connection?”, 2020. Published through ZOE. URL: https://covid.joinzoe.com/post/covid-blood-sugar-inflammation
  4. Harvard Men’s Health Watch, “Understanding acute and chronic inflammation”, 2020. Published through Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. URL: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-acute-and-chronic-inflammation
  5. I. Spreadbury, "Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity”, 2015. Published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402009/
  6. J. Bruun et al., “Consumption of sucrose-sweetened soft drinks increases plasma levels of uric acid in overweight and obese subjects: a 6-month randomised controlled trial”, 2015. Published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201595
  7. K. Wellen and G. Hotamisligil, “Inflammation, stress and diabetes”, 2005. Published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1087185/
  8. N. Khansari et al., “Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress as a Major Cause of Age-Related Diseases and Cancer”, 2008. Published in Recent Patents on Inflammation & Allergy Drug Discovery. URL: https://www.eurekaselect.com/93095/article
  9. S. Chuengsamarn et al., “Curcumin Extract for Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes”, 2012. Published in Diabetes Care. URL: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/35/11/2121.full
  10. S. Dickinson et al., “High-glycemic index carbohydrate increases nuclear factor-kappaB activation in mononuclear cells of young, lean healthy subjects”, 2008. Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. URL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18469238/
  11. S. Hewlings and D. Kalman, “Curcumin: A Review of It’s Effects on Human Health”, 2017. Published in Foods. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
    Thorne, “Curcumin Phytosome”, 2020. Published through Thorne. URL: https://www.thorne.com/ingredients/curcumin-phytosome

Needless to say, we're just getting started and are excited to share all our learnings in the future!

To optimal health,
Anttoni, Frans & Verneri

Limited release

Get your Veri

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.