Guest blog by Vicky Ware
In this article, Vicky looks at inflammation and the effect it can have on your body.
Inflammation has a bad name and for good reason. Chronic inflammatory diseases ranging from heart disease to asthma to cancer are an epidemic in the Western world . However, it is more a problem with our lifestyles than it is with the process itself. Inflammation is required for healing, preventing infections and in maintaining a good relationship with the bacteria which live naturally on your body. No inflammation would mean no healing and no defence against pathogens.
Inflammation is a process by which the cells of your immune system are called into action and gather to deal with the problem at hand, be that damaged cells or an invading pathogen. The immune system is what we are affecting when we prevent, or provoke, inflammation.
The types of food we are eating, a lack of exercise, and an overly clean environment mean our immune systems are not functioning effectively . Immune reactions happen when they shouldn’t, as in an allergic reaction . Our bodies have a constant level of inflammation which is causing disease. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, along with essential fatty acids, can help give your body the nutrients it needs to properly regulate the immune system – meaning inflammation is reduced.
Some of the molecules in the immune system act like hormones – these molecules are called cytokines. When you eat food it is broken down into smaller molecules, which can directly influence the immune system. The food you eat also affects the type of bacteria which live in your intestine , which in turn affects your immune system . Dietary fat is required for your immune system to maintain itself and function correctly .
With conflicting research making it unclear as to the health benefits of antioxidants, it would appear that eating foods containing these compounds is better than consuming supplements containing large quantities of antioxidant .
Levels of molecules which defend the body against reactive oxygen species have been shown to be increased in those with a diet that includes medium-chain fatty acids. Also, animals which were fed medium-chain fatty acids rather than other oils had less unhealthy changes to the fat in their heart caused by reactive oxygen species . Further to this, rats fed on coconut oil were found to have the lowest levels of oxidised proteins in the heart cells .
Some vitamins are fat soluble. This means they need to be dissolved in fat to be absorbed into your body. Levels of antioxidant vitamins were found to be higher in the animals fed virgin coconut oil compared to the other oil fed animals .
Lucy Bee raw coconut oil is one of the richest sources of lauric acid and capric acid – both types of fat. Lauric acid has been shown to be anti-inflammatory against a bacteria thought to cause acne – Propionibacterium acnes .
Heart disease is now considered a chronic inflammatory disease .
People living on Polynesian islands consume large amounts of virgin coconut oil. These populations have much lower incidents of heart disease and stroke than do Western populations with little or no heart disease at all, despite having up to 64% of their energy intake from coconuts alone. Their diets are also low in cholesterol and sugar .
Arthritis and Pain
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease. Research found that virgin coconut oil had a beneficial effect on rats who had arthritis . Virgin coconut oil was found to have anti-inflammatory and pain killing effects in animals .
The human body is covered in microbes, and certain species may be responsible for increasing levels of inflammation . Your diet affects which microbes are able to survive in your gut.
Research has also shown that medium chain triglycerides increase the amount of antibody secreted in the intestine, thereby improving the immune response which keeps the bacteria living in the gut at bay . .
Make it Unrefined
One key factor for all benefits of consuming coconut oil is to ensure the oil is extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil. Refining the oil changes the chemical structure of the oil, and means it does not have the same benefits .
Eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, along with essential fatty acids will allow your immune system to function in a balanced manner. .
Vicky has a degree in Biological Sciences with a focus on biochemistry and immunology and is currently studying for a MSc in Drug Discovery and Protein Biotechnology. She is also an endurance athlete.
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