The Kidney Flush Diet: Natural Ways to Cleanse Your Kidneys

If you’re looking for a natural way to cleanse your kidneys, look no further than these foods, drinks, and supplements that are scientifically proven to help support kidney function.

If you’ve looked into a liver detox diet or a salt water flush for your colon, you may well be interested in helping the other key component when it comes to waste removal from the body: your kidneys. The kidneys process up to 200 quarts of blood each day, removing waste products along with enough excess water to wash it all away. They also produce three key hormones: renin for regulating blood pressure, calcitriol which helps regulate calcium (as it’s a form of vitamin D), and erythropoietin which is needed to stimulate new red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Your kidneys are vital to your survival, and if you want to help them do their job, you may want to try a kidney cleanse. This article provides the reasoning behind a kidney flush diet and which foods best benefit these twin organs.

Kidney Function

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs just under your rib cage in your lower back. Along with the liver, they help detox your body and remove waste from your bloodstream, everything from the normal detritus of cellular breakdown and synthesis, to toxins that should never have come to your body in the first place. Kidney health is incredibly important, because you cannot live without the work that they do.

What follows are the ingredients for the kidney flush diet, foods and beverages that contain nutrients especially valuable to kidney health. On top of that however, remember that hydration is the name of the game when it comes to your kidneys: without enough water, the waste kidneys help filter out becomes backlogged and can lead to kidney infection, kidney stones, chronic kidney disease, and even kidney failure and the need for a kidney transplant.

In fact, the cause of kidney stone formation is when substances like oxalate, calcium, and uric acid form into crystals because there isn’t enough fluid available to dilute them and flush them out. To found out how to flush kidney stones naturally and which nutrients help inhibit kidney stone formation, read on.

What's in a kidney flush diet?

The Kidney Flush Diet

The first ingredient in a kidney flush diet is always plenty of water—our bodies are made of nearly 60% water, and it’s needed for everything from brain to blood to every organ in between, including and especially for kidney function. After you’ve got a few glasses of water in you, you’ll want to try these other foods that contain natural kidney health support. Let’s see how they work.

Kidney-Cleansing Foods

Here are the front-runner foods for kidney-boosting nutrients.

1. Cranberries

Cranberries are well-known for being beneficial to the bladder and urinary tract. Not only can they help cure urinary tract infections (UTIs), but they can also help prevent them, and that benefit extends to the kidneys as well.

This study from 2013 found that sweetened, dried cranberries consumed over a 2-week period reduced incidents of UTIs, thus helping to protect the kidneys from a spreading UTI infection.

Include dried cranberries in a salad, a trail mix, or a dessert, and you’ll be doing your kidneys a favor.

2. Seaweed

Brown seaweed can benefit the kidneys, the liver, and the pancreas too. A 2014 study showed that rats who were fed seaweed for 22 consecutive days had reduced levels of damage from diabetes in both their livers and their kidneys.

A little dried seaweed can be eaten as a snack any time, a savory bit of crunch you can easily keep in your pantry, your car, or your desk at work.

3. Grapes

Grapes (along with certain other berries and peanuts) contain resveratrol, the plant compound that makes a glass of red wine beneficial to your heart health. It turns out, as this 2016 study shows, that resveratrol can act as an anti-inflammatory agent in treating polycystic kidney disease.

A baggie of grapes can be easily tossed into your lunch box, or you can freeze your grapes, preserving them longer and turning them into a fun summer treat.

4. Foods with Calcium

What does calcium have to do with your kidneys? Calcium binds with oxalate in the kidneys, preventing it from forming into kidney stones. While it’s true that too much of either one and not enough water intake to dilute them can form kidney stones, high-calcium foods like tofu, almond or soy milk, and fortified breakfast cereals help to balance out the minerals in your kidneys and reduce the risk of kidney stone formation.

5. Beets

Beets are rich in nitric oxide, which not only helps to cleanse the blood, but also contributes to kidney function. The Indian Journal of Nephrology published a 2015 study that revealed a lack of nitric oxide is a contributor to kidney damage, so getting a sufficient amount helps act as kidney support.

Kidney-Cleansing Drinks and Teas

Drink to your kidneys with these kidney-cleansing beverages.

1. Fruit Juices

If you’re wondering how to flush out kidney stones fast, fruit juices might be the answer. Not all kidney stones can be passed safely, so if you suspect you have a kidney stone (the pain will make itself very clear), get medical advice before trying to deal with it on your own.

If it is a matter of naturally passing the stones, melon, lemon, and orange juice can help prevent kidney stones from forming in the future by providing citrate (which can bind with calcium). Increasing your fluid intake also helps clear out kidney stones as quickly as possible.

Make a habit of drinking a glass of fresh juice each day and you’ll be doing your kidneys a great service.

2. Hydrangea Tea

Hydrangeas are not just for landscaping. Those beautiful blooms can also help your kidneys. A 2017 animal study found that subjects given Hydrangea paniculate extract for just 3 days gained more protection from kidney damage, a benefit attributed by researchers to the antioxidant content of the plant.

3. Sambong Tea

A tropical shrub originating from India and the Philippines, sambong (Blumea balsamifera) is a medicinal plant that has been scientifically shown to decrease the size of calcium oxalate crystals, meaning it could help prevent kidney stone formation.

Kidney-Cleansing Supplements

Here are the key nutrients you may want to focus on supplementing with for a kidney flush.

1. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is needed to metabolize glyoxylate into glycine. If there isn’t enough vitamin B6 available, glyoxylate may become oxalate instead, and too much oxalate can lead quickly to kidney stones and block urine flow.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Most American diets are far too high in omega-6 fatty acids, and extremely low in omega-3s. Researchers have found evidence that too high omega-6 levels could lead to kidney stone formation. To correct that ratio, a reduction of omega-6 foods (anything fried in or containing vegetable oils) and an increase of omega-3s is needed. Omega-3 fatty acids can be gained from eating oily fish like salmon or mackerel, or by taking a high-quality fish oil supplement containing both EPA and DHA.

3. Potassium Citrate

Not only can potassium citrate help reduce kidney stone formation, but it also aids in balancing the pH content of your urine. Potassium is also needed to control the electrolyte content of your urine.

Be Kind to Your Kidneys

Your kidneys filter your blood, and one of the best ways to nurture healthy kidneys is to make sure you eat well and avoid gumming up the works as much as possible. Should you have a medical condition that makes kidney function more difficult, consult with a trusted health professional about these and other natural remedies to protect two of your most vital organs.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Home Remedies: 12 Natural Remedies for Pain Relief

Here are the top 12 rheumatoid arthritis home remedies that have scientific backing, proven safety, and can help ease the pain and stiffness of RA either independently or in coordination with your rheumatologist’s treatment plan.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disorder of the immune system characterized by excessive inflammation and pain in the body’s joints. While doctors may prescribe medication to help manage the condition and relieve arthritis pain, some RA symptoms will persist. If you’re looking for rheumatoid arthritis home remedies you can employ yourself—whether they be exercises, supplements, or care devices—this article has a variety of proven therapies that may help relieve your pain.

The Top 12 Rheumatoid Arthritis Home Remedies

While these at-home remedies may not be cures, and most certainly cannot replace your doctor’s advice and guidance, they are nevertheless some natural remedies for rheumatoid arthritis you can try on your own to relieve RA’s side effects of stiffness, pain, and discomfort. Some will be simple, like using heating pads and ice packs, while some will involve assistance from others, like acupuncture. If you have any questions about whether these home remedies are appropriate for your circumstances, ask your doctor before trying them, and once you get the go-ahead, find the treatment that works best for you.

The top 12 rheumatoid arthritis home remedies.

1. Heat and Cold Applications

Heat and cold treatments can both help ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, though each one offers unique benefits.

  • Cold compress: Applying an ice pack or other form of cold compress to the affected joint during an RA flare-up can help curb inflammation and joint swelling. It’s recommended that you apply cold for about 15 minutes at a time, taking a 30-minute break in between applications.
  • Heating pad: Heat relaxes your muscles and encourages blood flow to the affected area. By using either a warm, damp towel or a moist heating pad you can avoid any burns that might come from applying heat directly to the skin. A hot shower or warm bath can also act as heat therapy, but it’s recommended that you avoid hot tubs or spas in instances of heart disease, high blood pressure, or pregnancy.

2. Magnet Therapy

Magnet therapies can be found in a variety of forms, from bracelets (designed as home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis in hands) to necklaces, inserts, pads, and disks. They’re often available for purchase at natural food stores. While a lot of the data on the effectiveness of magnetic therapy is inconclusive and difficult to test for objectivity, it’s nevertheless a therapy you could evaluate on your own to see if it works for you.

3. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that is one of the oldest natural pain therapies on record. In acupuncture, super-fine needles are used to stimulate your body along energy pathways known as meridians, with the goal to balance your energy or qi (pronounced “chee”). Acupuncture has been shown to be a beneficial rheumatoid arthritis treatment, and has also been found to help alleviate other chronic pain conditions like back pain and osteoarthritis. If you’re considering this course of treatment, ask your rheumatologist to recommend a trusted practitioner who has worked with RA patients before.

4. Aromatherapy

While this treatment won’t influence your pain levels or causes of inflammation, it may still improve your mood and your stress levels. Your sense of smell is linked deeply with your mood and memory, and some people have found that essential oil therapy and massage improve their feelings of well-being.

5. Biofeedback Training

Biofeedback training involves placing sensors over the patient’s body to monitor the physiological data regarding automatic responses, like your blood pressure and heart rate. This monitoring is done so that a therapist can help train the patient to acquire voluntary control over these functions, and has shown positive application in rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

Biofeedback treatment may include use of one or more of these measuring devices:

  • A galvanic skin response meter: For measuring eccrine sweat gland activity.
  • A thermistor: Used to measure peripheral skin temperature.
  • Electrocardiograms or photoplethysmographs: Meant to measure peripheral heart rate, blood flow, and heart rate variability.
  • Electromyogram (SEMG): For measuring surface neuromuscular responses.
  • A respiratory gauge: Used in measuring breathing patterns, breathing rate, and expired carbon dioxide.
  • Electroencephalography (EEG): Used to measure the electrical activity of the cerebral cortex.

Biofeedback is considered a self-regulatory therapy because it is a tool to increase your awareness of your individual physiological responses in order to change them, reducing symptoms or improving performance as needed in reaction to stressors.

6. Deep Breathing and Yoga

Deep breathing techniques involve taking slow breaths from the depths of your belly, and can help calm your body, relax your muscles, and turn off certain stress receptors. Deep breathing is often a focal point in the practice of yoga, a low-impact exercise method with spiritual roots that was developed in India over 5,000 years ago. Yoga can help ease joint pain, increase flexibility, and release tension in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. If you’re seeking a yoga instructor, try to find someone with experience in guiding people with RA.

7. Exercise

Other types of exercise can help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and increase your joint health. Your doctor may be able to recommend a physical therapist to get your body into a fit enough condition to take on some of the following exercises if you think they might help improve your quality of life. Your physical therapist may recommend:

  • Aerobics: Activities like walking, running, and swimming increase your cardiovascular capabilities and health.
  • Strength trainingStrength training helps to keep the muscles surrounding your joints strong.
  • Range-of-motion exercises: These exercises help to train your joints to move as they should.
  • Balance movesBalance training helps you avoid dangerous stumbles and falls (see the next entry on tai chi for more information).

8. Tai Chi

Tai chi is another ancient Chinese tradition that can serve to increase your balance and strength. Tai chi involves performing slow, deliberate movements in a focused manner, and, like yoga, also includes deep breathing techniques and holding various physical postures. Tai chi is a gentle martial art that teaches you to use your own bodyweight and connection to the earth to increase your strength, and has been shown to help with lower extremity mobility in RA patients, so it’s particularly good to include in home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis in knees or ankles.

9. Massage

Massage is another incredibly old and reliable natural remedy, and modern science still acknowledges that it can help ease pain, especially for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Massage and reflexology have been shown to help manage RA pain and fatigue in patients, and you should be able to get recommendations on a qualified masseuse from your doctor or your physical therapist.

10. Fish Oil Supplements

Studies have shown that fish oil supplements may help reduce pain and joint stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Be sure to consult with your doctor before adding fish oil supplements to your regimen because they could interfere with certain medications and increase the likelihood of bleeding or bruising. The only other side effects some people report are belching, nausea, or a fishy taste in their mouth. If you do choose to try fish oil supplements, know that they contain valuable omega-3 fatty acids that will also improve your body’s fatty acids ratio.

11. Topical Gels, Creams, and Patches

At-home remedies like rubs, heat patches, and warming creams can help alleviate your pain without the need for pharmaceuticals. Many of these products contain capsaicin, the ingredient that makes your chili peppers hot and that studies show can help ease RA pain. However, it’s not recommended to use these products along with an electric heating pad, as doing so could make burns more likely to occur.

12. Turmeric

Turmeric and its derivative curcumin are natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Turmeric is a golden spice often found in Indian and Indonesian cuisine, as well as in many supplements aiming to reduce inflammation and ease pain without use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This traditional medicine has been shown to block proteins that cause inflammation and is commonly used to treat RA.

A quick warning: while some supplements and natural remedies can truly help your condition, a lot of supplemental research is still in the early stages. These natural aids may affect other medications. Check with your doctor before taking even perfectly natural supplements to be sure they are safe for you.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Home Treatments

If you’re looking for RA or arthritis home remedies, there are many safe and effective options to choose from. If you have concern, doubt, or hesitation about these or other natural remedies, contact your rheumatologist, as any expert in the field will have a comprehensive awareness of these practices and supplements. Once you’re cleared to explore at-home options, you may well find the pain-free solution you’re looking for!

Inflammation of the Liver: The Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Learn about the causes and consequences of inflammation of the liver: the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and preventative measures you can take to avoid liver disease and liver failure.

Any health issue that adversely affects your liver has the potential to put your life in danger. Inflammation of the liver is a symptom of many serious medical conditions. We’ll detail these various liver diseases as well as what happens when your liver is under attack.

What Is the Function of the Liver?

The liver is your body’s largest organ, a dark-red gland that is located in the upper right area of your abdomen, just beneath your diaphragm. The bile produced by your liver collects into the gallbladder, located on the liver’s underside, which is itself attached to the small intestine via a bile duct. The manifold functions of the liver also include:

  • Blood filtration and the detoxification of alcohol, drugs, and environmental poisons
  • Converting sugars to glycogen
  • Breaking down and storing fatty acids
  • Synthesizing proteins like albumin (needed for regulating blood volume) and fibrinogen and prothrombin (essential coagulation factors)
  • Disposing of depleted blood cells by breaking them down to their basic components
  • Destroying bacteria filtered from the blood
  • Maintaining the balance of sex hormones (reducing the amount of naturally occurring male sex hormones in women and female sex hormones in men, known as estrogen dominance)
  • Policing the proteins that pass through the digestive system

What Is Inflammation of the Liver?

Inflammation of the liver occurs when your liver cells are attacked by disease-causing agents. The various symptoms that can be caused by liver inflammation, hepatitis, and liver disease include:

Yellowing of the skin and/or whites of the eyes (jaundice) Fatigue
Fluid buildup in the legs and ankles (edema) Itchy skin
A tendency to bruise or bleed easily Dark urine color
Abdominal pain and swelling (ascites) Chronic fatigue
Bloody or tar-colored stool Pale stool color
Nausea or vomiting Diarrhea
Unexplained weight loss Loss of appetite

Not all of these symptoms are as obvious as jaundice, and many could be signs of other conditions entirely, from stomach bleeding to heart failure to Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder that occurs when copper builds up in the body, affecting the brain and liver. Such non-specific symptoms often make liver failure hard to diagnose, which is particularly dangerous because while your liver is out of commission, toxins could be accumulating in your body and your brain and causing new problems, one of which is liver cancer.

What Is Hepatitis?

The word “hepatitis” specifically refers to inflammation of the liver: from the Greek hêpar meaning “liver” and -itis meaning “inflammation” (as in arthritis, tendinitis, pancreatitis, etc.).

Hepatitis is often caused by either a viral infection or an autoimmune disorder that directs the body’s immune system to target the liver cells because it cannot differentiate healthy liver tissue from harmful invading cells.

There are several types of viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, with hepatitises A and B being common causes of liver inflammation (though fortunately there are vaccines available for both). The following information on these conditions has been sourced from the Mayo Clinic and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hepatitis A

This highly contagious liver infection is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is often contracted from contaminated food or water, or close contact with an infected person or object. Mild cases of hepatitis A often don’t require treatment, and most people who’ve been infected can recover completely, with no permanent damage to their liver. Severe cases can persist for several months, however, so getting the vaccine for hepatitis A is encouraged, as is practicing good hygiene to protect against the hepatitis A virus.

If you suspect you were exposed to the hepatitis A virus, an injection of the vaccine or the antibody immunoglobulin within two weeks of possible exposure may protect you from infection. Seek medical advice right away if there’s been a hepatitis A outbreak in your area (in a restaurant for example), if you’ve had close or sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A, or of if you’ve traveled outside the country to areas like Mexico, Central, or South America, or to regions with poor sanitation practices.

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) brings on this very serious liver infection. Hepatitis B infection can become chronic (lasting more than 6 months), increasing the risk of liver failure, liver cancer, and cirrhosis (the end-stage of extensive scarring of the liver).

While most adults are able to recover fully from hepatitis B infection, infants and children are more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B. While a vaccine can prevent the infection of hepatitis B, and preventative treatment may help if you receive it within 24 hours after exposure, there is no cure once you are infected. Contracting hepatitis B will mean taking precautions to prevent spreading the virus to others. Hepatitis B can be spread from:

  • Sexual contact: You may contract hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with an infected person. While the virus is not spread by coughing or sneezing, direct contact with an infected person’s saliva, blood, semen, or vaginal secretions can communicate the virus.
  • Needle sharing: Hepatitis B can easily spread through contaminated syringes and needles, so sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia puts you at a much higher risk of contracting hepatitis B.
  • Accidental needle sticks: Health care workers and anyone else who comes into regular contact with human blood are at a higher risk of exposure to hepatitis B.
  • Mother to child: Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass the virus to their babies during childbirth. In such cases, the newborn can immediately be vaccinated to avoid infection.

Risk factors for hepatitis B infection include engaging in unprotected sex, needle sharing, working in a health care job that exposes you to human blood, and traveling to certain areas with high hepatitis B infection rates, like Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for everyone, but especially for those who are at higher risk.

Hepatitis C

A viral infection with no preventative vaccine, hepatitis C (HCV) also leads to inflammation of the liver. Traditional treatment of hepatitis C used to involve weekly injections and oral medications with prohibitive side effects, but more recently chronic hepatitis C has become curable via oral medications taken over a period of 2-6 months.

The issue that remains, however, is that people are often unaware that they’re infected until the symptoms of liver inflammation arise, which could take decades to appear. Because of this long incubation, the CDC recommends that everyone born between 1945-1965 (colloquially known as Baby Boomers) get a one-time screening blood test, as they’re in a group that is 5 times more likely to be infected than the rest of the populace.

Acute hepatitis C infection does not always become chronic. Between 14-50% of those infected are able clear hepatitis C from their bodies after the acute phase in what’s known as “spontaneous viral clearance.” Fortunately, hepatitis C usually responds well to antiviral therapy, though there are several distinct types of hepatitis C around the world. While the symptoms and progression of each genotype is the same, the treatment variations depend on the strand. The type 1 genotype is most common in North America and Europe.

Risk factors for contracting hepatitis C include health care work, needle sharing, incarceration, receiving hemodialysis for an extended period, receiving a blood transfusion before 1992, or clotting factor concentrates before 1987. To avoid exposure, it’s recommended to not use illicit drugs, to be cautious about the hygienic practices of tattoo parlors, and to practice safe sex.

Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D is also known as “delta hepatitis,” and is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). It is an uncommon infection in the United States, and only occurs in those who are first infected with hepatitis B, because hepatitis D is an incomplete virus that needs the function of hepatitis B to replicate itself. Hepatitis D is transmitted via intimate contact with infected blood (either percutaneous or mucosal), and can be acquired with hepatitis B (coinfection) or after the fact (superinfection). There is no vaccine for hepatitis D, but it can be prevented by getting vaccinated for the hepatitis B vaccine, because it is a codependent virus.

Hepatitis E

This viral condition is brought about by infection from hepatitis E (HEV), though it fortunately does not result in chronic infection. Quite uncommon in the United States, hepatitis E exists in many other parts of the world, often transmitted through ingesting trace amounts of infected fecal matter through either contaminated water or poor overall sanitation. There is no current vaccine for preventing hepatitis E.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

This condition is the result of drinking too much alcohol over a period of many years, though not all heavy drinkers will develop alcoholic hepatitis. The American Liver Foundation states that up to 35% of people who drink heavily develop alcoholic hepatitis. It remains unclear to researchers why this condition only happens to some heavy drinkers (and a few moderate drinkers) and not to all of them. Receiving the diagnosis of alcoholic hepatitis requires you to immediately stop drinking, as ingesting alcohol will only escalate the condition to life-threatening proportions.

Risk factors that contribute to developing alcoholic hepatitis beyond immoderate drinking include being infected with other forms of hepatitis, being obese, being a woman, or being a person of color (African American or Hispanic), as well as binge drinking and malnutrition—heavy drinkers tend to eat poorly, and alcohol and its byproducts can hinder digestive absorption. Most people who develop alcoholic hepatitis have a history of drinking the equivalent of 7 glasses of wine, beer, or liquor shots daily for over 20 years.

Preventative measures include drinking moderately or abstaining, avoiding viral hepatitis infection, and being careful not to mix medications with alcohol, especially pain relievers like acetaminophen, found in Tylenol, which has its own adverse impact on the liver.

Autoimmune Hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that occurs when the immune system attacks your liver cells. The exact cause has never been scientifically pinpointed, but genetic and environmental factors appear to trigger the disease. While autoimmune hepatitis can be controlled via immune-suppressing drugs, if the condition does not respond to medication, it could lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, the need for a liver transplant, and death.

There are two types of autoimmune hepatitis that have been identified.

  • Type 1 autoimmune hepatitis: The most common type of the disease, type 1 autoimmune hepatitis can occur at any age, and is often accompanied by other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or ulcerative colitis.
  • Type 2 autoimmune hepatitis: Although it is possible for adults to develop type 2 autoimmune hepatitis, it’s more common in children and young adults.

Risk factors for autoimmune hepatitis include having other autoimmune diseases or a history of certain infections (like the measles, herpes simplex, or hepatitises A, B, and C), being female, or having a hereditary history that suggests a predisposition to the disease.

Liver inflammation: everything you need to know.

What Happens When the Liver Fails?

Because the liver plays a role in processing everything we eat and drink, any liver damage or inflammation is an emergency. Liver failure or hepatic failure is a life-threatening condition that can be either acute or chronic.

Acute Liver Failure

Acute liver failure is a rapid loss of liver function in someone who has no pre-existing liver condition, and is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate hospitalization. Depending on the cause, acute liver failure may be reversed, but often the only cure is to receive a liver transplant.

Causes of acute liver failure include:

  • Acetaminophen overdose: The Mayo Clinic states that acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol.
  • Prescription medications: Certain prescription medications like antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and anticonvulsants may cause acute liver failure.
  • Herbal supplements: Herbal drugs and supplements including ephedra, kava, pennyroyal, and skullcap have been linked to acute liver failure.
  • Viruses: Hepatitises A-E can cause acute liver failure, as well as cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, and herpes simplex virus.
  • Toxins: Toxins that can be responsible for acute liver failure include the poisonous wild mushroom Amanita phalloides (aka the “death cap”), and carbon tetrachloride, an industrial chemical in refrigerants, and solvents for waxes and varnishes.
  • Autoimmune disease: Liver failure can result from autoimmune hepatitis, wherein the immune system causes inflammation and injury to healthy liver cells.
  • Vascular diseases of the liver: Diseases such as Budd-Chiari syndrome can create blockages in the veins of the liver, resulting in acute liver failure.
  • Metabolic disease: Certain rare metabolic diseases like acute fatty liver of pregnancy and Wilson’s disease have the potential to cause acute liver failure, though it is an infrequent occurrence.
  • Cancer: Cancer that originates from or spreads to your liver can cause the liver to fail.
  • Septic shock: Massive infection or sepsis can overwhelm the body and severely impair blood flow to the liver, causing failure.

Though there is an extensive amount of known causes, many cases of acute liver failure have no obvious cause, and the complications can be dire, from cerebral edema (fluid buildup in the brain), to an inability of the blood to clot, to opportunistic infections in the blood, lungs, and urinary tract, to kidney failure. While it’s impossible to prevent the unknown causes of acute liver failure, it is nevertheless advised that you get vaccinated, avoid ingesting wild mushrooms, avoid coming into close contact with chemical substances, practice good hygiene, avoid or moderate alcohol use, and stay fit.

Chronic Liver Failure

Chronic liver failure is marked by the gradual destruction of liver tissue over many years.

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis is the late-stage condition caused by scarring of the liver tissue. Cirrhosis is the result of the accumulation of scars that form whenever the liver is injured by either disease or toxin consumption and tries to repair itself. Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, and approximately half of those cases are due to alcohol abuse.

Chronic damage to the liver escalates to cirrhosis in these stages:

  • Scar tissue slowly begins replacing healthy functioning liver tissue.
  • Blood flow through the liver is progressively diminished by the encroachment of scar tissue.
  • As more and more normal liver tissue is lost, liver function declines.
  • Ultimately the liver becomes unable to produce proteins, or process nutrients, hormones, poisons, and drugs.

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (ALD)

Alcoholic fatty liver disease results when fat cells get deposited in the liver, causing it to enlarge, and generally affects those who are both obese and heavy users of alcohol. Alcoholic fatty liver disease is preventable, and usually improves if you can stop drinking. If drinking continues and the condition progresses, it can lead to alcoholic hepatitis or alcoholic cirrhosis, which have all the same symptoms as listed above, plus potentially high blood pressure in the liver, an enlarged spleen, mental confusion, and internal bleeding. Alcohol-related fatty liver disease is the precursor before hepatitis and cirrhosis, and should be treated as an opportunity to halt the progression of liver failure.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is an umbrella term for many liver conditions that affect those who drink little-to-no alcohol. The National Institutes of Health lists other health conditions as common contributors to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, which is another umbrella term for a condition that involves high levels of bad cholesterol, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and large amounts of belly fat. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can also cause chronic damage that progresses towards liver failure.

How Is Liver Failure Diagnosed?

Whatever the underlying cause of liver inflammation and liver failure, medical attention is necessary. Common methods of diagnosis involve blood tests to detect any abnormalities, imaging scans to get a picture of the liver (CTs, ultrasounds, MRIs), or a biopsy. During a biopsy, a small piece of the liver is extracted and examined to determine the extent of any liver damage. If the liver damage is caught early enough and the cause quickly identified, then the liver may be able to heal and recover. Going forward after a successful treatment, there are ways to prevent further liver damage.

How to Prevent Liver Inflammation and Damage

One of the best ways to prevent liver conditions from developing is to limit certain risk factors and increase your overall health.

  • Get vaccinated. Receiving the vaccines for hepatitises A and B helps guard your liver.
  • Beware of contaminated needles. Whether it’s from illicit drug use, medical conditions that require regular injectables (like diabetes), or work as a health care provider, always be wary of used needles.
  • Do not eat any wild plant foods. Consuming wild mushrooms or berries can expose you to toxins and environmental contaminants.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. Consume no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks for men.
  • Practice safe sex. Using condoms and dental dams helps limit sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating a nutritious plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats helps keeps fat deposits from building up in your liver.
  • Exercise. Staying physically active is a great boon to your overall health, from exercises as low-impact as walking to hitting the gym and taking fitness classes.
  • Lose excess weight. If you are obese or overweight, you can lose weight by reducing the number of calories you eat and increasing the amount of calories you burn.

Amino Acid Treatment of the Liver

On the cutting edge of developing science, amino acid therapies applied to the liver are showing amazing results. Studies have found that amino acid supplements are effective in treating both alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases. One study found that long-term oral supplementation of branched-chain amino acids had positive effects for patients with advanced liver cirrhosis, while another showed that application of those same essential amino acids positively impacted patients with advanced chronic liver disease.

Yet another study revealed that the dysregulation of the branched-chain amino acids is a characteristic signature in adolescents with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, independent of the factors of obesity and insulin resistance. They also concluded that an amino acid disruption could predict an increase in liver fat content over time. For as mysterious as the causes of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can be, scientists have found that disordered amino acids are a consistent marker for it.

Liver Your Best Life

Inflammation of the liver can be both the cause and the symptom of serious liver conditions. The best way to avoid liver inflammation is to live a safe and healthy life and to make sure your essential amino acids are in the proper balance, as they have been scientifically shown to act as both a prevention and a cure for various liver diseases. If you suspect any issue with your liver’s function, visit your doctor immediately, because the importance of your liver is right there in its name: you need your liver to live. Fortunately the liver has the ability to recover and heal itself, so if you take care of it, it can take care of you for a long time.

How to Heal Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

A general term, gastritis refers to a group of conditions that result in inflammation of the stomach lining. With knowledge of the various causes, symptoms, and available treatments, it’s possible to take control of the situation and both treat and heal gastritis.

Gastritis is a condition that leads to inflammation of the stomach lining. Episodes of acute gastritis may occur suddenly and last only a short time, while chronic gastritis may last weeks, months, or even years. While most cases of gastritis aren’t serious, the condition can occasionally lead to complications, including peptic ulcers and even stomach cancer. But with knowledge of the various causes, symptoms, and available treatments, it’s possible to take control of the situation and both treat and heal gastritis.

Causes of Gastritis

Gastritis can be caused by a number of factors, including damage to the lining of the stomach due to bacteria or viruses or thinning due to age. But by far, the majority of cases are caused by a type of bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori, or H pylori for short.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately two-thirds of the world’s population suffers from H pylori infection. Additional risk factors associated with gastritis include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Stress
  • Bile reflux

Signs, Symptoms, and Potential Complications of Gastritis

Interestingly, many people with gastritis never have any symptoms. In addition, people who are infected with H pylori in childhood may not have any symptoms until they reach adulthood. However, if gastritis symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Upper abdominal pain or burning
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upper abdominal fullness after eating

Symptoms of gastritis may be mild or severe and, if left untreated, can sometimes result in serious complications. Some of these include:

  • Peptic ulcers: Both NSAIDs and H pylori increase the risk of developing duodenal and stomach ulcers.
  • Atrophic gastritis: A complication especially of chronic gastritis, atrophic gastritis leads to destruction of the stomach’s mucosa and can develop into gastric cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia: Gastritis caused by autoimmune conditions can lead to loss of the stomach cells that help the body absorb vitamin B12, which results in impaired production of red blood cells.

If your symptoms don’t improve or worsen or you develop any shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, vomiting with blood, blood in the stool, or black, tarry stool, see your health care provider right away. These are all symptoms of bleeding in the stomach and require immediate medical attention.

Tips to improve gastritis

Diagnosing Gastritis

While your health care provider will probably suspect gastritis after speaking with you about your medical history and conducting a physical exam, they may also choose to perform additional tests to determine the exact cause and help guide treatment. These tests may include:

  • H pylori testing: H pylori bacteria can be detected using breath, blood, or stool tests. Your health care provider may choose any of these, though the fecal antigen test has been found to be the most accurate.
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series: To perform an upper GI series, you’ll be asked to drink a chalky powder (barium) mixed with water and then undergo an X-ray. The barium coats your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and absorbs the X-rays, making the organs of your upper digestive tract easier to see.
  • Endoscopy: An endoscopy uses a flexible tube with a lens, passed down the throat, to identify signs of inflammation in the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. If any abnormalities are found, biopsies (tissue samples) may be taken for laboratory analysis.

Treatment to Heal Gastritis

Once the diagnosis of gastritis has been confirmed, treatment will be tailored to the specific cause, though therapy should address any symptoms that are present as well.

In the case of pernicious anemia resulting from atrophic gastritis, B12 injections may be administered to help prevent complications of B12 deficiency.

Symptomatic treatment may also be provided in the form of medications designed to decrease the level of acid produced by the stomach, thereby helping to promote healing of the inflamed stomach lining. These types of medications include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers, and antacids, such as:

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Maalox

When addressing the cause of gastritis, treatment may be as simple as removing the offending agent, such as alcohol, or, in the case of NSAIDs, recommending a dose reduction or change to another type of medication.

If you’re found to have H pylori infection, you’ll be treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria and decrease your risk of developing complications such as peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. Several natural remedies have also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of H pylori:

  • ProbioticsAccording to a study published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews, probiotics may be helpful in treating H pylori due to their activation of the immune system and direct competition with the pathogen.
  • Green teaStudies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea, along with its lower levels of caffeine, may reduce the risk of developing gastritis by 40%.
  • Broccoli sprouts: A study found that daily intake of broccoli sprouts for 2 months reduces H pylori colonization in mice and decreases the risk of complications in both mice and humans.
  • Honey: A study found that honey decreases stomach acid production and aids in the healing of the stomach lining.
  • Nigella sativa (black seed): A study found that a mixture of black seed and honey was effective in treating both H pylori infection and dyspepsia.

While gastritis caused by H pylori, NSAIDs, or alcohol may be rather easily treated with the use of antibiotics (in the case of H pylori) or withdrawal of the offending agent (in the case of NSAIDs and alcohol), the treatment of gastritis resulting from other causes may be more complex. Cases resulting from stress or autoimmune disorders, for example, may benefit from equal parts healing and therapeutic prevention.

The Best Gastritis Diet

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), research has not been able to find a significant connection between a person’s diet and nutritional status and the development or prevention of gastritis.

However, the Mayo Clinic advises several changes to the diets of people suffering from gastritis. These include eating frequent, small meals and avoiding fried, fatty, acidic, or spicy foods.

Other sources suggest that foods known for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to support immune and digestive system health may be helpful in fighting both the underlying causes and inflammation that characterize gastritis.

When choosing foods to aid in recovery from gastritis and help prevent its return, look for foods high in fiber, lean protein, antioxidants, probiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids. And be sure to avoid substances that irritate your sensitive stomach lining, such as carbonated beverages, coffee, and processed foods.

Tips to improve gastritis

Amino Acids for Gastritis

There’s also a growing body of evidence indicating that the use of certain supplemental amino acids may be beneficial in the treatment of gastritis.

For example, studies have shown that a combination of zinc and carnosine peptide—a substance derived from the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine—is effective against H pylori and has the ability to repair the stomach’s damaged mucosal lining. One study also found that these effects were perfectly achievable with the use of over-the-counter zinc carnosine supplements.

Another study found that the amino acid N-acetylcysteine (NAC) leads to improvements in both symptomatology and endoscopic findings in patients with chronic atrophic gastritis.

In addition, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that the amino acid glutamine has the ability to decrease the inflammation and mucosal abnormalities associated with H pylori infection.

The pain and discomfort of gastritis, when they occur, are never pleasant and shouldn’t be ignored. But with appropriate treatment and the help of your health care provider—who can provide you with tips on everything from reducing stress to eradicating H pylori and supporting the body’s healing process with proper nutrition—symptoms can be alleviated and healing achieved.

What Is Spondyloarthritis? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Spondyloarthritis is a group of diseases that cause arthritis and inflammation. There’s no cure for spondyloarthritis, but identifying the symptoms and finding the right treatment plan can help you lead an active and productive life.

Spondyloarthritis is a group of diseases that cause arthritis. You also may hear it called spondyloarthropathy or the abbreviated SpA. It is unique from other kinds of arthritis because it also causes inflammation in areas called entheses where your ligaments and tendons attach to your bones. Unfortunately, there is no cure for spondyloarthritis, but recognizing the symptoms early and finding a treatment plan that works well for you can help you continue to lead an active and productive life.

What Is Spondyloarthritis?

Spondyloarthritis is an overarching name for several inflammatory rheumatic diseases that are the cause of arthritis. Arthritis often affects your joints, and spondyloarthritis causes inflammation within the tendons and ligaments of your bones, referred to as entheses. You most commonly see teenagers and people in their early 20s, particularly men, affected by spondyloarthritis.

The two types of spondyloarthritis are determined by the parts of your body that are targeted. Peripheral spondyloarthritis affects the peripheral joints in your legs and arms, while axial spondyloarthritis appears in your spine and the joints of your pelvis (called the sacroiliac joints). This disease can go beyond these areas, however, causing inflammation in your GI tract, your eyes, and other connective tissues throughout the body.

Since spondyloarthritis is a larger group of inflammatory diseases, several subcategories exist. These include:

  • Psoriatic arthritis: You can develop this type of arthritis if you have psoriasis, a skin disease in which skin cells build up and create scaly, dry patches. Your immune system is triggered by psoriasis and the on switch is never turned off, causing it to attack your skin and joints. This inflammation leads to joint swelling, pain, and general stiffness in your spine, feet, and hands.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis: One of the most common types of spondylitis, the stiffness and pain associated with this kind of arthritis target your ligaments and joints in your spine. Most people experience low back pain that can extend to the neck, chest, and upper portions of the back. If the condition worsens, the bones and joints can fuse together, affecting your spine’s shape and posture.
  • Enteropathic arthritis: This type of arthritis often appears in conjunction with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
  • Reactive arthritis: Previously referred to as Reiter’s syndrome, this type of arthritis usually stems from a urinary tract infection or intestinal infection. As your immune system is activated, additional inflammation can occur in the mouth, urinary tract, eyes, and digestive tract, and arthritis can take hold in other joints and ligaments.
  • Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis: This type of spondyloarthritis is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that doesn’t fit neatly into a specific spondyloarthritis diagnosis.

Spondyloarthritis Causes

Spondyloarthritis and its subcategories of arthritis seem to run in families, indicating that genes may play a role in increasing your risk. Researchers continue to examine spondyloarthritis and further expand upon the genes they’ve identified that are associated with the condition. In particular the gene HLA-B27 has been pinpointed for its tie to ankylosing spondylitis—it’s been shown that people who have this gene have a higher risk of the disease.

Spondyloarthritis Symptoms

Signs of spondyloarthritis most commonly develop in two phases, with pain, inflammation, and stiffness being followed by the breaking down of your bones. Over time, your spine can become deformed, change shape, and lose flexibility. Spondyloarthritis can also affect other joints, and you may feel symptoms in your arms, legs, hands, feet, shoulders, and hips. Symptoms do vary from person to person and are often distinct to the type you have.

What is spondyloarthritis? It is a group of diseases that cause arthritis and inflammation.

Spondyloarthritis Diagnosis

The sooner your condition is correctly diagnosed, the better the outcome and the more effectively your symptoms can be managed. When visiting with your doctor, he or she will discuss your family and medical history, conduct a physical exam, and record any symptoms you’ve been experiencing. Many times an X-ray may be taken of the particular area causing you issues. This will allow the doctor to see if any bone changes have occurred and the stage of the disease. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may also be ordered to allow for a closer view of your joints and their condition. If your family history has any red flags, blood tests may be used to try and identify the HLA-B27 gene.

Spondyloarthritis Treatment

There is unfortunately no way to cure spondyloarthritis, but if you are diagnosed your treatment plan will incorporate pain management, maintaining joint and spinal flexibility, and lowering your risk for future complications. Your doctor will want to ensure bone deformation is avoided or slowed if it has already begun. Together you will determine what works best for you, but here are some common treatments.

  • Physical therapy: Working with a physical therapist can help soothe pain and keep joints flexible and moving. If you have ankylosing spondylitis, regular stretches can help prevent your spine from stiffening into an abnormal position.
  • Low-impact exercise: While exercise may seem counterintuitive, physical activity is one of the best ways you can manage symptoms like pain and stiffness. Exercise will aid in improving pain levels, increasing mobility and balance, and enhancing your overall quality of life.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: Various medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be prescribed to help reduce the severity of inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid medication: Commonly injected into joints of your knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, or spine, these shots work quickly to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. There are side effects associated with this method, so the number of shots are limited. Cortisone shots do not provide a long-term solution.
  • Antirheumatic medication: Often used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs may be prescribed if your arm and leg joints are affected by spondyloarthritis. Antirheumatic drugs can help slow the progression of damage caused by constant inflammation.
  • TNF alpha-blocker drugs: Used to fight inflammation from a variety of conditions, TNF alpha-blockers, also known as TNF blockers, is a class of drugs that block inflammation by encouraging your immune system to return to a normal level.
  • Surgery: Inflammation that never goes away and an immune system that never shuts off can be extremely wearing on your body. Joints and bone can start to break down, cartilage wears out, and your body doesn’t move and function as it used to. In this case, surgery may be necessary, including hip replacement or corrective procedures of the spine.
  • Antibiotics: If a bacterial infection is identified as the cause behind your symptoms of spondyloarthritis then your health care provider may provide an antibiotic.

Spondyloarthritis Diet

Eating a balanced diet is at the core of a healthy life and minimizing the effects of any chronic condition. It is important to try and maintain a normal weight to reduce the amount of pressure that is pressing on your bones and joints. With spondyloarthritis and the constant inflammation that accompanies it, experts recommend an anti-inflammatory diet.

This means knocking out alcohol, fried foods, processed items, and sugar. To give your immune system a boost and support your overall health, try eating fatty fish, whole grains, leafy vegetables, berries, lean protein, and nuts. It is also beneficial to eats foods rich in calcium like legumes, yogurt, almonds, beans and lentils, and leafy greens. You can get an amazing amount of nutrients from healthy food, but supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals can also help your body get all it needs.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Essential for several functions within the body, fatty acids can be found in foods including fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, or in supplement form. Omega 3s have been found to help reduce joint inflammation associated with inflammatory arthritis conditions.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is essential for your bone and joint health. Vitamin D is an important partner to calcium in that it helps your body effectively absorb the calcium it needs. Having ample amounts of these vitamins strengthens your bone density, making bones less susceptible to breakages.

Amino Acids

Amino acids have been revered for many pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties and can be very effective at combating issues associated with arthritis (we wrote a whole article on it here!). They also can help build cartilage, which is especially useful if you suffer from any bone loss or deformation related to spondyloarthritis.

A supplement containing a mixture of amino acids ensures you receive a balanced amount of each essential element. Amino acids like L-methionine, L-arginine, glucosamine, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) help reduce inflammation, improve circulation and mobility, transfer micronutrients to joints, and decrease swelling and stiffness.

Spondyloarthritis can be very disruptive to your life, especially when the joint stiffness and pain are constant. However, a combined approach of lifestyle changes, self-care methods, support groups, medication, and physical therapy can help you lead a more active life and prevent further damage and complications.

Encephalitis: What Causes Inflammation of the Brain?

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain, and it can occur at any time and doesn’t favor any particular age, gender, race, or ethnicity. We’ve broken down the causes and symptoms of encephalitis as well as the treatments available so you can comfortably confront this intimidating condition.

Inflammation is a vital response of the body to injury and infection. Without it, the immune system wouldn’t intervene to heal damaged tissue or fight off dangerous pathogens. When the inflammatory process is working smoothly, it helps us conquer acute illnesses, such as upper respiratory infections. But when it goes awry, chronic inflammation can lead to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Sometimes inflammation even affects the brain. And when inflammation of the brain occurs—but the spinal cord remains unaffected—it’s called encephalitis.

What Causes Inflammation of the Brain?

While the exact cause of encephalitis isn’t always clear, most cases are associated with viruses that have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier—the semipermeable membrane surrounding the brain—and infect the central nervous system. Viral infections that have been known to cause encephalitis include:

  • Herpes viruses:
  • Enteroviruses:
    • Poliovirus
    • Coxsackievirus
  • Mosquito-borne viruses:
    • West Nile
    • La Crosse
    • St. Louis
  • Tick-borne viruses:
  • Rabies virus
  • Viruses generally associated with childhood:

Even though viruses are the main cause of encephalitis, the condition can also be the result of bacteria, parasites, noninfectious causes like drug allergies, demyelinating conditions such as multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases, including a rare condition known as anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, which was only recently identified in 2007.

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis was largely brought to public attention by the memoir Brain on Fire and can result in a number of bizarre psychiatric symptoms, which has led experts to speculate that the disorder most likely explains the cases of so-called demonic possession that have been documented over the centuries.

Types of Encephalitis

There are two broad types of encephalitis, and which kind you have depends on how the infection attacks your body and how your body responds.

  • Primary encephalitisThe primary form of encephalitis occurs when the offending pathogen directly infects the brain.
  • Secondary encephalitis: The secondary form of encephalitis results when an infection occurring elsewhere in the body triggers an abnormal response in the immune system in which both the substance causing the infection and healthy brain cells are attacked. As this form of encephalitis often appears 2 to 3 weeks after the initial infection, secondary encephalitis is also known as postinfectious encephalitis.

Amino Re Input Updates Encephalitis: What Causes Inflammation of the Brain?

Symptoms of Encephalitis

Symptoms of brain inflammation can range from mild to severe. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), benign forms of encephalitis may present as mild flu-like symptoms. According to NINDS and the Mayo Clinic, those who do have symptoms often experience some of the following:

Flu-like symptoms: Brain fog Loss of consciousness
Fever
Headache
Muscle aches
Joint pain
Fatigue
Weakness
Confusion Seizures
Agitation Double vision
Hallucinations Impaired judgment
Difficulty hearing or speaking Memory loss
Partial paralysis or loss of sensation Personality changes

In cases of encephalitis involving young children, symptoms may also include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability

Diagnosing Encephalitis

After obtaining a medical history and performing a physical exam, your health care provider may order a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis of encephalitis. Tests commonly used to diagnose the condition include:

  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Spinal tap
  • Brain biopsy
  • Urine or blood tests
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Risk Factors for Encephalitis

According to the Encephalitis Society, approximately 250,000 cases of encephalitis have been diagnosed in the United States over the last decade. While that equates to only about 1 in 200,000 cases each year, several factors are known to increase the risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Age: Young children and older adults are more at risk.
  • Weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems due to conditions such as HIV, certain drugs, illnesses, or poor nutrition are more at risk.
  • Geographic location: People who live in areas where mosquito- and tick-borne diseases are common are more at risk.

Complications of Encephalitis

Most cases of encephalitis are relatively mild, and those affected generally recover within a few weeks with no long-term side effects. However, in severe cases, the resulting brain damage can lead to coma or even death. Other less life-threatening complications can occur as well and may persist for months or years. These include:

  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue
  • Personality changes
  • Speech and swallowing issues
  • Epilepsy
  • Mood disorders
  • Attention and concentration problems
  • Balance and coordination issues

People suffering from these types of long-term side effects will need additional therapy to improve functioning. Types of therapy that might be required include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy

Encephalitis Treatment

Because encephalitis is considered a serious medical condition, even mild cases require hospitalization and close monitoring. Beyond that, specific care will be determined based on age, overall health, medical history, and disease severity. Treatment will also focus on addressing the underlying cause and symptoms and supporting overall well-being.

Mild cases of encephalitis may be treated with:

  • Bed rest
  • Fluids
  • Headache and fever medications

If the encephalitis is found to be the result of bacteria or fungi, the appropriate antibiotic or antifungal medication will be instituted.

Likewise, cases resulting from viruses are usually treated with antiviral medications even though not all viruses respond to antivirals. This is because the risk of severe complications with encephalitis, coupled with the fact that the specific virus may never be identified, leads many health care providers to opt for antivirals as a precaution.

Supportive treatment for severe cases of encephalitis may also include:

  • Intravenous (IV) fluids
  • Steroids
  • Anticonvulsant medications
  • Anti-inflammatories

Amino Acids for Encephalitis

Amino acids are well known as building blocks of protein and are needed for proper functioning of the entire body, including the immune system and brain. Some amino acids also offer anti-inflammatory and antiviral benefits.

Interestingly, recent research has even suggested a link between Alzheimer’s disease and HSV—one of the viruses known to cause encephalitis. In addition, like Alzheimer’s, herpes simplex encephalitis may lead to long-term memory loss. However, the amino acid lysine has the ability to suppress replication rates of the herpes virus and may therefore be a valuable addition to encephalitis treatment.

Recovering from Encephalitis

As you begin the process of recovering from encephalitis, it’s especially important to focus on ways to improve your overall health and help decrease levels of inflammation in the body. To this end, making dietary changes with the ability to reduce chronic inflammation may be particularly helpful. Some of these dietary changes include:

  • Eating more antioxidant-rich foods
  • Eating less red meat
  • Avoiding refined or processed foods
  • Cooking with healthy oils
  • Eating more healthy fats
  • Drinking plenty of filtered water

According to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the following supplements and herbs may also be helpful in rebuilding the body after encephalitis:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin C
  • Probiotics
  • Green tea
  • Cat’s claw
  • Garlic
  • Astragalus
  • Elderberry

Finally, it’s important to remember that early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing potential complications of encephalitis, so be sure to seek immediate medical attention at the first sign of severe headache, fever, or altered consciousness.

Amino Re Input Updates Encephalitis: What Causes Inflammation of the Brain?

What Is Ulcerative Colitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time and may develop into life-threatening complications. Learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatments.

There are many diseases that can affect the gastrointestinal system, from irritable bowel syndrome to Crohn’s disease, but ulcerative colitis is one of the most debilitating. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, 1.6 million Americans have inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis affects 907,000 of them. How does ulcerative colitis differ from other digestive disorders, and what exactly is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the large intestine and rectum and causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. Symptoms usually develop over time and may lead to life-threatening complications.

Complications of ulcerative colitis can include swelling of the colon (toxic megacolon), a hole in the colon, bone loss, blood clots, colorectal cancer, and even liver disease.

Ulcerative Colitis Causes

The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. Doctors used to suspect that diet and stress were responsible for the disease, but they now believe that diet and stress are not the cause but can indeed make the disease worse.

Immune system malfunction is considered a possible cause, because when the immune system reacts to an invasion, it attacks the cells in the digestive tract.  Mistaking food and gut bacteria as invaders, white blood cells proliferate in the lining of the colon, causing chronic inflammation and ulcers.

Despite the lack of consensus on a precise cause, risk factors may include age, race or ethnicity, and family history (you may be at risk if you have a close relative who has or had the disease).

Ulcerative colitis usually affects people before the age of 30, and Caucasians are more likely to develop this condition.

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis depend on the level of inflammation, and they are classified according to location.

Ulcerative colitis is a disease that affects the large intestine and rectum. It is an inflammatory bowel disease, also known as IBD, which causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. Symptoms usually develop over time and may develop into life-threatening complications.

The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

Bloody diarrhea Abdominal pain
Cramps Bloody stool
Rectal pain Urgent need to defecate
Inability to defecate Unexplained weight loss
Joint pain Tiredness
Fever Stunted growth in children

Types of Ulcerative Colitis

  • Ulcerative proctitis: The mildest form of ulcerative colitis, ulcerative proctitis is characterized by rectal bleeding and inflammation in the region closest to the rectum.
  • Proctosigmoiditis: Here, the inflammation occurs in the rectum and sigmoid colon. Symptoms are typically bloody stool, abdominal pain, and inability to produce bowel movements but with the strong urge to do so.
  • Left-sided colitis: The inflammation that occurs with left-sided colitis travels to the descending colon and results in bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping on the left side, and weight loss.
  • Pancolitis: This type of ulcerative colitis inflames the entire colon. Symptoms may be more intense and weight loss drastic.
  • Acute severe ulcerative colitis: The rarest type of colitis, it’s acute, severe, and affects every part of the colon.

Your health care provider will use blood tests to check for signs of anemia or infection and a stool sample to diagnose ulcerative colitis. To investigate further, your doctor may order a colonoscopy, a more invasive exam that allows for a view of the entire colon using a thin, lighted tube with an attached camera.

If the colon is too inflamed for a colonoscopy, your doctor with opt for a flexible sigmoidoscopy to examine your rectum and colon. If a complication is suspected, a CT scan may be ordered, and if symptoms are especially pronounced, your physician may take an X-ray to rule out a condition such as a perforated colon.

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Options

The type of treatment depends on the severity of the condition—and it may take time to find a medication that helps because not everybody reacts in the same way to drugs. It is crucial to follow your doctor’s directions because many of these drugs have side effects. You can also check out this article on the best and worst foods to eat for ulcerative colitis to help manage your symptoms.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Anti-inflammatory drugs include 5-aminosalicylates (the primary choice for mild to moderate ulcerative colitis) such as sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), mesalamine (Asacol HD, Delzicol, others), balsalazide (Colazal), and olsalazine (Dipentum). Corticosteroids are generally used in cases of severe ulcerative colitis that don’t respond to other treatments—these drugs have strong side effects, so long-term use is not recommended.

Immune System Suppressors

These drugs help lower inflammation, but they also suppress the immune system response. The most common immunosuppressant drugs include Azathioprine (Azasan) and mercaptopurine (Purinethol). Cyclosporine (Gengraf) is usually prescribed to people who have had issues with other medications. This drug has serious side effects and is not for long-term use.

Drugs such as infliximab (Remicade) neutralize a protein produced by your immune system, and they are usually proscribed for those with severe ulcerative colitis who have had issues with other treatments.

Other Medications

Antibiotics are usually prescribed to ulcerative colitis sufferers running a fever. Anti-diarrheal medications (Imodium) may be effective for severe diarrhea. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used. Do not use ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and diclofenac sodium (Voltaren), which can exacerbate symptoms. Iron supplements can help manage anemia in patients with chronic intestinal bleeding.

Surgery

Surgery can be effective in eliminating ulcerative colitis, but the procedure removes the rectum and the entire colon. The surgeon constructs a pouch from the end of the small intestine and attaches it directly to the anus, allowing the patient to expel waste without using a bag to collect stool.

It is important to mention that patients with ulcerative colitis are at higher risk of developing colon cancer. Frequent screenings are recommended. If the disease goes beyond the rectum, a surveillance colonoscopy should be done every 1 to 2 years.

How to Treat Ulcerative Colitis with Amino Acids

Studies suggest that L-arginine, a nonessential amino acid known to keep the immune system strong, can help patients who have ulcerative colitis. In a rat model, L-arginine supplementation healed the intestinal mucosa. Another test analyzed the effect of L-arginine on patients with histologically-proven pancolitis. The experiment showed that L-arginine concentration may prove to be useful as a biomarker for ulcerative colitis disease severity.

More generally, ulcerative colitis patients are at risk of nutrient depletion, particularly during an inflammatory flare-up. To counter this, the European Society for Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition recommends an increase in dietary protein intake to a level as much as twice the recommended dietary allowance for healthy individuals in order to maintain muscle mass and function. This level of intake may be impractical to achieve, and complete digestion may be limited.

Adding an essential amino acid supplement to the diet may provide important beneficial effects. When provided in free form, amino acids are fully digested in the small intestine and therefore act locally through the luminal side via the bloodstream to reach mucosal sites distant from the sites of absorption. Amino acid supplementation has been shown to provide beneficial effects on the inflammatory response, oxidative stress reactions, and other favorable effects in the gut. In addition, supplementation with essential amino acids will help to maintain muscle mass and metabolic health.

The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods Everyone Should Be Eating

When health experts speak of an “anti-inflammatory diet,” they hope to help people who suffer from chronic inflammation, but all can benefit from anti-inflammatory nutrients. Eating anti-inflammatory foods protects against certain diseases and slows the aging process. Here are the best anti-inflammatory foods to eat.

Chances are, you’ve come across the term before: anti-inflammatory foods. You have a general sense that it’s important to include these foods in your diet, and you may even be able to name a few, like fatty fish and leafy greens. You may also have questions: like why exactly it’s important to combat inflammation and what the best anti-inflammatory foods to do so might be. Read on to find out.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to a threat. When our immune system recognizes a threat, such as a microbe or a virus, it responds by releasing specialized defenses to neutralize that threat.

Inflammation forms a crucial component of the immune system’s defenses. Our body uses inflammation to heal itself and defend against invaders—a process that often involves some redness and swelling. If you sprain your ankle, for example, the surrounding area will swell and become inflamed while your body works to heal that injury. Short-term inflammation triggered by an injury or infection comprises an important part of the body’s healing process. But long-term, recurrent, persistent chronic inflammation? That’s an entirely different beast.

Chronic inflammation does not result from an injury or infection, but rather as the result of ongoing influences such as a lack of sleep, high levels of stress, or a poor diet. Unlike beneficial, healing, short-term inflammation, this type arises even when you’re not under direct threat from a foreign invader.

Chronic inflammation can be seen as an immune system dysfunction. In essence, the body sends a response to a threat that is perceived but that does not require an inflammatory response. The immune system then kicks into overdrive and won’t turn off. This can occur due to chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, or due to an inability to distinguish between real and perceived threats.

The Effects of Chronic Inflammation

When left unaddressed for too long, chronic inflammation can trigger a multitude of disease processes. This makes it fertile territory for many researchers who hope to better comprehend its mechanisms and foster methods for counteracting it.

Scientists are still working to understand all the effects of chronic inflammation, but it is clear that it has been linked to a host of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, bone loss, depression, aggressive behavior, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. All these conditions can be affected by lifestyle and environmental factors, such as:

  • Excess weight
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Pollution
  • Poor oral health
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Chronic inflammation is, in essence, a prolonged state of emergency. The continued presence of inflammatory cells in the blood vessels leads to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which causes the walls of the arteries to thicken and harden. This, in turn, substantially increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Inflammation plays a significant role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease as well. Scientists have now proved unequivocally that inflammatory compounds can cross the blood-brain barrier, but have yet to identify exactly how they contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s and other conditions that adversely impact the health of the brain.

While elevated inflammatory markers unquestionably have an adverse impact on your health, the good news is that we have the ability to influence a number of factors that lead to chronic inflammation and inflammatory diseases.

One of the most effective ways to fight chronically high levels of inflammation is through our diets. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

25 of the Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Diet

When health experts suggest adopting a proven anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, the primary goal of such an approach is to alleviate the negative outcomes experienced by individuals suffering from chronic inflammation. That said, everyone can benefit from eating more anti-inflammatory nutrients.

These 25 powerful anti-inflammatory foods can help protect against certain diseases and slow the aging process, stabilize blood sugar, increase metabolism, and even lower your cancer risk.

The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods Everyone Should Be Eating

To facilitate a concise and comprehensible overview of the ways certain foods with potent inflammation-quelling effects improve your health, we’ve divided them into four general categories:

  1. Vegetables and fruits
  2. Healthy fats
  3. Fiber-filled foods
  4. Herbs, spices, and more

Foods from these four categories provide crucial nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, niacin, and vitamin C that benefit your health on many levels.

1. Vegetables and Fruits

It’s no coincidence that just about every expert out there recommends vegetables and fruits as the basis of a healthy lifestyle. Loading up on these foods can help to combat weight gain, safeguard your heart health, prevent metabolic syndrome, and more.

In addition to common healthy eating favorites such as leafy greens and vitamin-C loaded oranges, make sure to incorporate plenty of cruciferous vegetables and alliums into your diet.

Cruciferous vegetables—a family that includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts—and alliums—such as garlic, scallions, onions, and leek—have antioxidant properties and have been shown to lower the risk of cancer. If you like garlic, eating one clove per day is ideal—it might add an extra punch to your favorite meals.

2. Healthy Fats

While popular opinion used to demonize fats, the truth is that far from undermining your health, they can dramatically improve it.

Plus, adding fat to your food enhances its flavor.

Oil is an essential ingredient in the kitchen and offers the opportunity to select a type of fat that brings health benefits, such as extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil lowers the risk of heart disease by helping to reduce cholesterol levels.

A special place in your diet should go to avocados, which contain omega-3 fatty acids and have been shown to have antioxidant properties. A 2013 study in the journal Food & Function found that people who ate a hamburger with avocado had lower levels of a kind of inflammatory marker called CRP (C-reactive protein) 4 hours after eating than those who did not.

Prioritizing healthy fats should impact your selection of proteins too. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases. Cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, tuna, trout, and mackerel, are among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include beans (navy, kidney, and soy), flax seeds, and walnuts.

Many foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like cold-water fish and beans, are also excellent sources of amino acids, which have strong inflammation-fighting effects of their own. A diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids and protein lowers the risk of chronic diseases and enhances muscle growth and strength.

3. Fiber-Filled Foods

In addition to many vegetables, like okra, eggplant, and onions, and a variety of fruits like bananas and blueberries, the best sources of fiber include whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and oatmeal.

The fiber in whole grains mediates inflammatory processes by helping with weight loss and feeding beneficial gut bacteria, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

4. Herbs, Spices, and More

When cooking vegetables, consider adding spices like ginger, rosemary, turmeric, oregano, cayenne, cloves, and nutmeg, which have anti-inflammatory compounds. These spices add kick to your meal and are also good for your health.

Extensive research also shows that green tea and dark chocolate (in part due to its magnesium content) can lower inflammation levels.

Can Foods Cause Inflammation?

It’s important to introduce healthy foods into your diet to fight chronic inflammation, but it’s also critical to avoid certain foods.

It can be all too easy to inadvertently eat a pro-inflammatory diet by overdoing it on refined carbohydrates like white bread and pastries, fried foods, soda and all the sugar-sweetened beverages, and processed meat such as hot dogs.

Most foods that contribute to inflammation are generally foods you should eliminate from your diet or consume in moderation, as they are linked to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Processed foods contain trans fats, which have higher levels of C-reactive protein, a cause of inflammation. It’s essential to read labels when you go grocery shopping—in 2006, the FDA required food manufacturers to identify trans fats on nutrition labels, so taking time to read the ingredients contained in the food you buy is crucial.

How to Build an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet includes several servings of foods high in amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids each week, fiber every day, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

You should also limit the consumption of saturated fat to 10% of your daily calories.

One way to help meet these goals is to snack strategically. You can add a few servings of healthy foods like berries or walnuts, and the powerful anti-inflammatory compounds they contain will stack up quickly.

If your meals need extra sweetness, try adding naturally sweet fruits rather than sugar. You may find that working in spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties to add flavor will have the added bonus of not necessitating as much added sweetness as you’re accustomed to.

There’s no one perfect anti-inflammatory diet, and it’s vital that you consider your own preferences as well as what scientists have discovered about certain foods. The most effective way to use foods to improve your health is not to adopt a short-term strategy like a cleanse but rather to make sustainable changes to your long-term interactions with food.

Amino Acids for Inflammation: Treat and Prevent Health Problems with 5 Potent Anti-Inflammatory Amino Acids

Chronic inflammation has been linked to many deadly modern diseases. One of the ways to fight inflammation is with an anti-inflammatory diet rich in amino acids. Recent studies focused on the use of amino acids for inflammation reduction have yielded highly promising results.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to many deadly modern diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, depression, and even cancer. Instead of fighting chronic inflammation with pharmaceutical drugs, which can damage our organs over the long term, we can focus on preventative measures to reduce the risk of developing serious health problems. Recent studies focused on the use of amino acids for inflammation reduction have yielded highly promising results.

In this article, we will first examine the biological mechanisms that result in chronic inflammation and then explain how anti-inflammatory amino acids can combat systemic inflammation at its source.

What Leads to Chronic Inflammation?

Chronic inflammation is a complex condition, and experts have identified a host of risk factors that make individuals more likely to develop it, many of which are related to the overconsumption of inflammatory foods and other elements of a person’s lifestyle.

The simplest way to conceptualize chronic inflammation, also referred to as systemic inflammation, is as an inappropriate immune response.

The inflammatory response is a defense mechanism activated by the immune system in response to threats like joint sprains or the presence of viruses. Inflammation shows up in different ways, including pain, redness, and swelling. Short-term inflammation is an integral part of the healing process, but when inflammation becomes chronic, it begins to cause health problems.

Chronic inflammation sets in when the immune system begins regularly releasing inflammatory chemicals (such as pro-inflammatory cytokines) in the absence of an injury or infection.

When left untreated, chronic inflammation can lead to the development of a variety of harmful health conditions, such as:

Health care professionals can diagnosis chronic inflammation by testing for inflammatory markers in the bloodstream such as interleukin-1 and -6 (IL-1 and IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), homocysteine, and C-reactive protein (CRP).

 

The Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan

Whether you hope to alleviate unpleasant symptoms associated with conditions linked to chronic inflammation or to combat its pernicious effects before they appear, adopting a proven anti-inflammatory diet is a highly effective treatment approach.

In a separate article, we provide an introduction to 25 powerful anti-inflammatory foods which we highly recommend you read. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing exclusively on the benefits of amino acids for inflammation.

Making foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids the cornerstone of your anti-inflammatory diet plan is a choice that will pay dividends. That’s because omega-3 laden foods like fatty coldwater fish and beans are also excellent sources of anti-inflammatory amino acids. Researchers have found that eating a diet replete with foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids can not only lower your risk of chronic diseases, but also help to enhance muscle growth and support healthy weight loss.

The Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Amino Acids

Amino acids are one of the most important types of nutrients—they make up proteins, which are needed in most biological processes in our bodies.

There are two basic types of amino acids relevant to conversations about human nutrition: the first can be made by the body and are therefore deemed nonessential amino acids (meaning that, under normal circumstances, it is not essential to supply the body with foods containing these amino acids), and the second are essential amino acids because humans must obtain them from the foods they eat. Both essential and nonessential amino acids play a crucial role in fighting inflammation.

The Top 3 Anti-Inflammatory Essential Amino Acids

The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids:

  1. Leucine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Valine

These amino acids—found in dairy, meat, and eggs, as well as other foods—are renowned for their ability to promote muscle growth and fuel significant strength gains. They also help reduce the time needed to recover between intense workouts by minimizing muscle damage and speeding up the rebuilding process.

Many of the most famous benefits of BCAAs can be attributed in part to their anti-inflammatory properties. It appears that, thanks to their anti-inflammatory capacity, BCAAs can be used for a number of medicinal purposes.

BCAAs show particular promise as a means of treating inflammation associated with liver disease. According to a study published in Nutrition, supplements containing a balanced formulation of leucine, isoleucine, and valine can have beneficial effects on hepatic encephalopathy,  liver regeneration, and hepatic cachexia. They promote ammonia detoxification, correct the imbalance of amino acids in the blood, and stimulate protein synthesis. The authors conclude that, for certain groups of patients, “BCAA treatment can significantly improve the health-related quality of life and the prognosis of hepatic disease.”

It’s important to note here that the positive influence of BCAAs, and indeed, of any single amino acid, depends on the body receiving adequate amounts of all the other essential amino acids. For this reason, most people will experience the greatest effect when supplementing with a balanced blend of all the essential amino acids.

The Top 2 Anti-Inflammatory Nonessential Amino Acids

As touched on previously, your body can generate its own supplies of nonessential amino acids, meaning that under normal circumstances, there’s no need to take in additional quantities of these amino acids. Chronic inflammation, however, is not a normal condition. Under these circumstances, it can be quite valuable to increase your intake of nonessential amino acids known to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Two such nonessential amino acids are:

  1. Glutamine
  2. Glycine

Glutamine is not classified as an essential amino acid, but people who have gastrointestinal disorders or undertake intensive athletic training are often deficient in this amino acid, making it a conditionally essential amino acid in certain circumstances. Glutamine is used within the intestines, kidneys, and by the immune system—it has important antioxidant properties and can help reduce inflammation.

Studies in animal models (specifically, rodents and pigs) show that glutamine can help heal inflammatory bowel disease because this amino acid increases concentrations of friendly microbiota that support healthy digestion and decreases concentrations of hostile bacteria. Most animal proteins contain glutamine, and it can also be found in beans, spinach, cabbage, and parsley.

Another nonessential amino acid with pronounced anti-inflammatory benefits, glycine appears to be extra-effective for alleviating inflammation associated with:

A review published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care examined the protective mechanisms responsible for glycine’s impressive benefits. The authors found, among other things, that glycine suppresses the formation of pro-inflammatory substances such as inflammatory cytokines and free radicals. Glycine also protects against shock caused by hemorrhage and prevents ischemia and injury to a variety of tissues and organs including the liver, kidney, heart, intestine, and skeletal muscle. Ultimately, the authors determined: “Multiple protective effects make glycine a promising treatment strategy for inflammatory diseases.”

It’s easy to incorporate more glycine into your diet. Animal proteins, including meat, dairy, and fish, contain glycine in combination with all nine of the essential amino acids that your body needs to thrive.

Bone broth, for example, contains glycine, a wealth of other amino acids, and natural collagen. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can find glycine in plant-based sources like beans, spinach, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin, banana, and kiwi.

 

One of the ways to fight inflammation is with an anti-inflammatory diet rich in amino acids.

Amino Acids for Inflammation: The Bottom Line

Nutrition is the first line of defense against chronic inflammation and the raft of modern (and preventable!) illnesses linked to that condition. Eating a diet rich in amino acids—all the essential aminos, including the BCAAs—and nonessential aminos like glutamine and glycine, helps to reduce inflammation, decrease harmful bacteria, and prevent injuries.

While it’s certainly possible to get all the amino acids you need for optimal health from diet alone, food restrictions, preferences, and lifestyle considerations (including a busy schedule) can make that challenging. To ensure you’re providing your body with the amino acids for inflammation it needs, consider supplementing with a complete essential amino acid formula.