Nutrition Meets Food Science

Nutraceutical: A promising ally against Chronic Systemic Inflammation

Have you ever noticed redness or swelling at an injury site for example, when you get a cut or a bruise? It happens due to the body’s immune system reaction and thus results in acute inflammation, which is the body’s protective reaction. Whereas, an immune response that lasts for months or even years is known as chronic systemic inflammation. This can cause tissue damage and set off a chain reaction of health issues. It can arise and persist as a result of poor lifestyle choices like regular junk food, smoking, a sedentary life, stress, and insufficient sleep. Basically, a normal, transient immunological reaction to injury, disease, and stress is inflammation. However, poor lifestyle choices can lead to chronic inflammation.

When the immune system is always defending the body, systemic inflammation happens. The body may become pro-inflammatory due to stress, infection, or long-term medical conditions. As a result, the immune system is primed and prepared to initiate an inflammatory reaction. The synthesis of proinflammatory proteins including chemokines and cytokines is increased by immune cells. These substances act as immunological mediators, causing the body’s whole system to become more inflammatory.

As an often unnoticed but prevalent threat to our health, chronic systemic inflammation has been linked to several diseases, including autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and cardiovascular ailments. Alternative methods of addressing the underlying cause of inflammation are becoming more and more popular as traditional medical techniques majorly concentrate on treating symptoms. The anti-inflammatory qualities of nutraceuticals which are bioactive substances obtained from food sources with possible medical advantages, are drawing attention.

Here are a few beneficial Nutraceuticals that can help with chronic systemic inflammation:

  1. Curcumin (Turmeric):
    • Turmeric’s main ingredient, curcumin, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.
    • It lowers the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines and inhibits the activity of inflammatory enzymes.
    • Research indicates that curcumin might be helpful for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and rheumatoid arthritis.
    • Curcumin users with metabolic syndrome showed considerably lower levels of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and malondialdehyde than those who took a placebo, according to a 2015 randomized controlled experiment.
    • Although curcumin may have these advantages, its bioavailability is low, which causes it to be poorly absorbed into the bloodstream.
    • Curcumin’s absorption can be considerably increased by piperine, a component of black pepper. This is the reason piperine is also present in many curcumin supplements.
    • To guarantee that the curcumin is optimally absorbed during cooking, you can combine black pepper and turmeric.

  1. Omega 3 fatty acids:
    • Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in walnuts, flaxseeds, and fatty fish, have anti-inflammatory properties. By lowering the synthesis of inflammatory mediators, they aid in regulating the body’s inflammatory response.
    • Supplementing with omega-3 has demonstrated potential in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
    • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the two main omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. 5–10% and 2–5% of ALA, an essential fatty acid in healthy adults is converted to EPA and DHA, respectively.
    • Particularly DHA has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties that lower cytokine levels and improve gut health. (5) Further research is required, but there is a possibility that it might also lessen the inflammation and muscle damage post-exercise.

  1. Resveratrol:
    • Antioxidant resveratrol is present in purple-skinned fruits such as purple cabbage, blueberries, and grapes. Additionally, peanuts, dark chocolate, and red wine also contain it.
    • Both those without chronic diseases and those with conditions like obesity, ulcerative colitis (UC), and liver disease may benefit from resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties. And also, qualities that prevent aging.
    • It may help prevent chronic diseases linked to inflammation by regulating several inflammatory pathways.
    • In one 2015 trial, participants with Ulcerative Colitis (a form of inflammatory colon disease) were given 500 mg of resveratrol or a placebo once a day for six weeks. Improvements in inflammation, UC symptoms, and quality of life were observed in the resveratrol group.

  1. Green tea extract:
    • Green tea is rich in substances including caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which may offer numerous health benefits. This is why green tea has been used in traditional medicine for a long time.
    • Green tea contains an ingredient called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has anti-inflammatory properties. It can lessen inflammation by blocking inflammatory signalling pathways, preventing free radicals from causing oxidative damage to your tissues.
    • One can purchase EGCG or green tea extract supplements, but keep in mind that these supplements unless specifically labelled as such, will contain caffeine.

  1. Bromelain:
    • An enzyme combination called bromelain is extracted from the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus), specifically from the fruit and stem it gives the fruit its astringency.
    • Through the modulation of many pathways involved in the inflammatory response, bromelain has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. It might aid in lowering the cytokine production that promotes inflammation.
    • It’s possible that bromelain modulates the immune system by affecting immune cells that are involved in the inflammatory response. This regulation may help maintain a healthy immune system.

Even though bromelain has the ability to protect against inflammation, it’s important to take individual variances and potential drug interactions into account. Anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications, interact with bromelain which might slow blood coagulation.

As the understanding of chronic systemic inflammation deepens, the necessity of various ways to tackle this condition becomes obvious. Nutraceuticals, with their natural origins and diverse mechanisms of action, present a promising avenue for intervention. However, it’s crucial to note that while nutraceuticals can complement conventional treatments, they should not replace them. Consultation with healthcare professionals and personalized approaches are essential for incorporating nutraceuticals into a comprehensive strategy for managing chronic systemic inflammation.

As research in this field progresses, the potential for nutraceuticals to serve as allies in the battle against inflammation continues to expand, offering hope for a healthier future.


  2. Kou, Haiyang et al. “Effect of curcumin on rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Frontiers in immunology vol. 14 1121655. 31 May. 2023, doi:10.3389/fimmu.2023.1121655
  3. Panahi, Y., Hosseini, M. S., Khalili, N., Naimi, E., Majeed, M., & Sahebkar, A. (2015). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoid-piperine combination in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A randomized controlled trial and an updated meta-analysis. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 34(6), 1101–1108.
  5. Costantini, Lara et al. “Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Gut Microbiota.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 18,12 2645. 7 Dec. 2017, doi:10.3390/ijms18122645
  6. Samsami-Kor, M., Daryani, N. E., Asl, P. R., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2015). Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Resveratrol in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-controlled Pilot Study. Archives of medical research, 46(4), 280–285.

Ms. Simran Vichare

Nutritionist, PFNDAI

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