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Fighting inflammation with food - is there a market?

Inflammation is a common factor in many illnesses today and because of poor dietary habits, stress and environmental pollutants. As a result of this the market is growing rapidly. This week we’re exploring inflammation, why it occurs, what can help manage it and what the industry can do to help us age healthily.


What is inflammation?


Inflammation is the reaction that occurs to protect the body from trauma, pathogens, infection, viruses and/or foreign bodies. This co-ordinated response is designated to limit tissue damage, remove the foreign body and repair the damaged cells or tissue.


Loss of appetite tends to occur in young children and older adults who are experiencing inflammation. This loss of appetite, along with changes to liver metabolism creates a negative nitrogen balance, causing muscle loss and weakness. Muscle tissue degradation can be reduced by increasing protein and antioxidant intake via the diet.


Moreover, in cases of chronic inflammation and inflammatory diseases, the body initiates an inflammatory response without the presence of any foreign bodies, trauma or need to initiate an inflammatory response. In chronic inflammation the increased production of immune cells, macrophages and T-lymphocytes produce cytokines and enzymes which result in long lasting damaging effects to cells and tissue causing pain, fibrous nodules and swelling. This is detrimental to health status, which is often caused by poor dietary intake, inactivity and obesity.


Examples of inflammation and inflammatory diseases:

If we take osteoarthritis as an example, osteoarthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease which damages the joints within the body, which in turn can lead to a decrease range in movement, swelling and chronic pain.


What happens to the body? The cartilage becomes thin and rough, ligaments grow stiff and the underlying bone thickenings and formation of bone spurs. In advanced stages of the disease, cartilage will be lost, leaving the bones to rub together further increasing pain and joint degradation.

  • 1/3 of UK adults aged 45 years and over are treated for osteoarthritis

  • 98% of all knee replacement surgeries are due to osteoporosis and ¼ of those go on to seek treatment for hip conditions

  • It is estimated that by 2035 8.3 million adults aged 45-64 will have knee osteoporosis, the most common form


Combined with an ageing population in the UK, the number of those living with osteoarthritis will significantly increase.


Diet and inflammation


75% of all consumers identify a desire to improve their health status, but many fail to do so due to perceived unpleasant taste and lack of convenience to purchase. It has been identified that the main cause of long-term inflammation is driven by poor dietary habits, along with overfed yet malnourished populations, obesity, exposure to toxin and inactivity.


What can be done to reduce and manage inflammation?


Foods and extracts which aim to reduce and manage inflammation include omega 3, fatty acids pineapple extracts, CBD oil, avocado seed extract, cranberries, berries, tea extracts, antioxidant (vitamin A, C and E) blends.


Although many such claims are yet to be backed by scientific trials, they do hold sound reasoning. However, there are popular compounds on the market which have credible links to research:


CBD


CBD has been linked to the reduction of anti-inflammatory illness. A recent study shows CBD’s possible abilities to reduce inflammation thanks to the activation glycine receptors.


Resveratrol


Resveratrol is an antioxidant within grapes, blueberries, red wine and peanut butter. Antioxidants trap free radicals and therefore reduce the damage and inflammation caused by such.


Ginger

Ginger has been linked to decreased inflammation of those with kidney disease, reduction in interleukin 6 and cytokines.


Omega 3


Fish oils have long been claimed to aid joint health. Current research has presented a benefit in reducing inflammation of the heart, diabetes and gut health.


What does this mean for the industry?


It is apparent that there is a need for convenient foods, drinks and supplements that contain anti-inflammatory agents to improve the health and potential life quality of many adults in the UK.


As the UK and western population are aging, rising in obesity and the occurrence of non-communicable disease the need for healthier food products with clean labels, that are also easily accessible is in great demand. As we have explored in this blog, obesity can cause inflammation but in turn, inflammation can also cause obesity therefore there is a gap in the market to target this nationwide problem.


Furthermore, adding compounds such as spirulina and ginger which have credible links to managing inflammation into staple foods could also be an opportunity for those looking to make a difference to aging healthily.

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