PhotoOne of the body’s first lines of defense against injury, infection, or outside toxins is inflammation – the signature, and sometimes painful, swelling and redness that you may have experienced after sustaining an injury.

But the effects of chronic inflammation can be especially painful, and it can be devastating to your health if left unchecked. In fact, chronic inflammation can often trigger the onset of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, and it is especially potent in individuals as they get older.

There are certain anti-inflammatory drugs that can reduce swelling and inflammation, but a new study from the University of Liverpool has identified several foods that can prevent inflammation as well, including products like onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea, and açai berries. The researchers say that the common trait that many of them share are the inclusion of certain chemicals called polyphenols.

Tied to fruit and vegetable intake

Polyphenols are classified as micronutrients, and the researchers say that they have already been proven to be beneficial at preventing degenerative diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

They help by contributing to the release of cytokines in the body – a type of molecule that helps cells communicate with each other. When cytokine is released, cells are able to mobilize more quickly to fight infection or trauma so that inflammation can be reduced.

Although the researchers admit that a lot of research must be done to fully understand the potencies of different polyphenols, they recognize that fruit and vegetable intake modulate cytokine, and that certain products have more of an impact than others.

“The results of our study suggest that (poly)phenols derived from onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea and açai berries may help reduce the release of pro-inflammatory mediators in people at risk of chronic inflammation,” said Sian Richardson, one of the senior researcher.

The full study has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

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