Everyone experiences inflammation of some kind, whether it’s from an injury, a rolled ankle or sprained wrist, or a health condition like arthritis.
Natural-born athletes, dogs love adventure and sometimes experience injury and inflammation just like we do. But did you know that inflammation can also be caused by diet? Truth.
Due to how inflammation often occurs (from injury), we tend to think in terms of reactive medicine when it comes to treatment. Often times it’s tricky to spot inflammation because it’s internal, like an irritated digestive tract. What we don’t tend to consider is how often, processed food can cause inflammation in the gut which can lead to other inflammatory issues–“in humans, diets that are high in saturated fat, trans fats, sugar, and/or refined carbohydrates have been shown to lead to an increase in inflammatory symptoms” and the same is true for dogs. (1)
Often, the idea of food as medicine is overlooked, despite the fact that a proactive diet that helps to inhibit chronic inflammation. Sure, we know that food is the fuel that drives the body, but did you know there are foods that can help reduce chronic inflammation, and assist with healing?
Whether it’s a sprained paw, an inflamed digestive tract, a knee injury, or a health condition like arthritis, read on for some tasty tips to help reduce inflammation and improve comfort and mobility.
Recognizing and Reducing Inflammation
First, let’s address what happens in the body during inflammation with injury:
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. Think of it as the body’s first responder reaction to the site of injury, the helpful do-gooder who sounds the alarm, bringing all of the stuff we need to heal, to the site of the injury. Great right? Yes. But in order to allow those vital systems to do their healing work, inflammation has to step aside. If inflammation continues to stick around, it becomes known as chronic inflammation.
Two types of inflammation:
- Acute–this is the type associated with initial injury
- Chronic— this type of inflammation occurs when the acute response is prolonged and continues to leave the body in panic mode, instead of recovery mode.
In the case of chronic inflammation, the “body’s inflammatory response can eventually start damaging healthy cells, tissues, and organs.” (2) This “results from the increased release of free radicals from cells in a state of oxidative stress.”(3).
Oxidative stress – A “process in which reactive oxygen molecules…damage cells and DNA.”(3)
Chronic inflammation therefore, can lead to a bevvy of issues within the body which are “associated with poor clinical outcomes — including obesity and susceptibility to infections and even cancers.” (3)
Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation:
- skin conditions
- persistent infections
Helpful tips on the road to recovery
Given the issues that chronic inflammation can cause, it’s absolutely vital to reduce such stress, but what can be done? Remember that idea of a Proactive Diet? Yup! You can fight chronic inflammation with anti-inflammatory medications, but arguably just as effective in many cases, is a change of diet to one that helps reduce and fight inflammation.
Consider trying some of these superfoods to your pup’s diet. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with all sorts of benefits and have been shown to reduce inflammation.
- Fish Oil (not fish liver oil)
- High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA) (3)
- Vitamin E
- Give in conjunction with Fish Oils to maintains E Vitamin levels (4)
- SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine)
- supports liver, reduces pain, stiffness, and inflammation caused by arthritis
- combine with a B-complex vitamin (4)
- Boasts over two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds (4)
- Contains saponins, which help reduce pain and stiffness (4)
- A great source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, vitamin A, folate and vitamin E. They also boast potent disease-fighting antioxidants (5)
- Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants (5)
What to Look For In An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Bioavailability: This refers to the percentage nutrients ingested that the body can actually access and use for essential functions. If bioavailability is low in a food, the body cannot absorb optimal nutrition. Bioavailability is negatively affected by the over-processing of ingredients, which is why a gently cooked, fresh food diet is ideal. Learn more about Bioavailability here!
A Happy MicroBiome: The microbiome refers to the bacterial culture within the gut. Good bacteria–probiotics–assist in digestion and help maintain a happy gut. A happy microbiome is home to bacteria that actually helps reduce inflammation, and maintains a happy gut wall. This plays a huge part in protecting the immune system, and protecting the body from chronic inflammatory conditions like Inflammatory Bowel and Leaky Gut issues. (1) Read more about how Probiotics can help reduce digestive tract inflammation here!