Category Archives: Inflammation

5 Reasons for a Higher Awareness of Zika

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Zika_Pt.2_CPDZika virus continuously poses a public health threat in the U.S.. Since my last post “Zika Virus Infection and Cancer Care Indication”, as of August 24th, 29 people in Florida have been infected with Zika virus through local mosquito transmission, along with 2,487 travel-related cases across the country, according to the CDC.

This is a more alarming reality than that presented three months ago when all 544 Zika cases in the U.S. were travel-related. Regions along the Gulf Coast are at an elevated risk for Zika outbreak, especially Louisiana, because of recent devastating flooding.

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the Zika crisis. Of importance is to avoid traveling to Zika outbreak areas and stay self-protected to prevent mosquito bites. I won’t get into details here because plenty of information or guidance is available elsewhere.

Based on some new research and clinical findings, I’d like to emphasize FIVE reasons why we need a higher alert and responsiveness to Zika infection. Here goes:

1.      There are various ways for Zika virus transmission.

A person who has acquired the Zika infection could pass virus along through mosquito bites, maternal-fetal and/or sexual transmission. Unmistakably, blood transfusion also becomes a major concern as Zika-positive blood donation is evident. That’s why the FDA recently recommended nationwide screening of blood donations for Zika virus. Thank about it – why is it necessary to run such a costly and time-consuming testing for a massive blood donation system? Remember that people infected with Zika virus could be symptomless.

2.      Zika virus can damage not only a baby’s brain but also an adult’s brain cells.

Painful scan images have shown that Zika infects a fetus, causes brain calcification, and destroys a baby’s brain. Severe brain damage may bring about long-term developmental problems or neurological complications affecting vision, movement and epilepsy. On the other hand, new research reveals that Zika virus impacts a different area of adult mice’s brain, such as a specific neural cell, and it could affect long-term memory in some adults.

3.      Zika virus affects the immune response, particularly in those whose immune system has been compromised due to a chronic disease or cancer therapy.

Infections by viruses can suppress the immune system. Moreover, a person’s inflammatory response to mosquito bites may augment the severity of arbovirus infection (e.g. Zika). Studies suggest that mosquito bites, especially in individuals hypersensitive to mosquito bites, may be linked to cancer development through activating cancer cellular pathways by mosquito-feeding, and/or through influencing human metabolic pathways leading to the initiation of cancer.

4.      It’s challenging to control mosquitoes.

Mosquito population is measured in the millions, and usually in the hundreds of millions. There is no way to distinguish Zika-infected mosquitoes from the rest uninfected. It’s virtually impossible to eradicate them all. But it doesn’t mean we should give up our effort.

Aerial spraying and backpack fogging carried out by the professionals can help reduce mosquito populations in epidemic areas. There are also effect measures that individual citizens can take right at home or the backyard with little or no cost. For instance, the best ways to control local mosquito population is to eliminate the places where mosquitoes breed, such as water-filled buckets, flowerpots, containers, puddles or pools of standing water outdoors.

Using pesticides to kill mosquitoes is delicate. Be cautious about unintended consequence, because pesticides often contain some toxic chemicals that can be harmful to human health if inhaled or ingested. 

5.      Finally, keep in mind those young women whose newborns suffering from microcephaly, neurological abnormalities and birth defects. What would their hardship be? – raising their ill babies, caring for the infants with various disabilities, and likely dealing with their own stress, anxiety, depression or quality of life.

 

Image credit: physio-pedia.com and CPD

Foods to Stop Abdominal Obesity and Inflammation

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Big Belly-and-diet-1349596-mAre you a woman with a waist measurement of over 35 inches or a man with a waist of over 40 inches?

If so, you need to keep reading and engaging in this topic. There is an increasing concern about abdominal obesity, which has been identified as a risk factor of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

How bad is it?

Abdominal obesity, so-called “big tummy”, is the accumulation of excess intra-abdominal fat tissue, which promotes the release of inflammation-causing chemicals and subsequently causes inflammation. On top of that, chronic inflammation is harmful to your body and a root for many chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. So, “big tummy” should not be taken lightly.

Several factors might contribute to increased abdominal fat, including sex hormones, growth hormone, and local production of cortisol, a “stress hormone”. Dietary fructose is involved too. So, you cannot shrink your waist size overnight, and there is no a magic pill for it. However, you can simply start with modifying your diet.

How can you do it?

Is there any food that can improve your belly towards a healthy, active anti-inflammatory way? Yes. Here are the topmost eight approaches you can focus on:

1.      Oily fish: salmon or tuna

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, are not only good proteins but high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. To rip most benefits, eat these fish a few times a week, and cook them in healthy ways, such as grilled or baked, not deep fried, dried or salted.

2.      Healthy fats: olive oil and avocado

Let’s face it. Fat adds delicious taste, but not all fats are created equal. So, sprinkle olive oil and avocado over your salad, or mix them with your dishes.

 3.      High fiber foods: whole grain, oatmeal

A diet study on nearly 90,000 people in 2010 found that those consuming at least 10 grams of fiber daily (especially the kind in whole grains) had waists about three inches smaller than those eating very little fiber.

4.      Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C and lycopene, known to reduce inflammation throughout the body, along with supporting the immune system. Cooked tomatoes contain even more lycopene than raw ones, so does tomato sauce.

5.      Kale and other green leafy vegetables.

Kale is one of the stars among green leafy veggies, which can make up key components in an anti-inflammatory diet. More than forty-five individual flavonoid antioxidants have been identified in kale, including quercetin and kaempferol. Quercetin has been shown to possess a strong anti-inflammatory property. Moreover, kale facilitates the body’s detoxification processes, which are crucial in flushing out inflammatory substances, such as those built up from processed foods.

6.      Nuts and nuts-based fiber bars

Nuts such as almonds and walnuts, are wonderful snacks, and a great source of inflammation-fighting fats and antioxidants. There are so many good things about them — rich in fiber, calcium, vitamin E, and alpha-linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fat).

7.      Low-fructose food: lemon, prune, and cranberries

These fruits contain little fructose. Research findings demonstrate that reduction in fructose improves several risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. In addition, low-fructose diet may be an effective intervention in cancer development.

8.      Spice like garlic, ginger and onions

Garlic and ginger have been used since ancient times, as powerful punches to combat inflammation. Garlic can help ward off a range of chronic illnesses, attributing to its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory nature. Ginger is rich in antioxidants too. Onions are loaded with antioxidants, particularly quercetin. Many people tend to ignore them, but these foods do add an appreciable taste to your dishes.

Overall, diet can play an important role in lowering the risk of various cancers, and in reducing the hazard of chronic inflammation. A diet with the above beneficial foods helps shrink your waist size; in the long run, it can boost your anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer force.

What else can you do to speed up the progress?

Regular exercises, drinking more water or tea instead of coca and sweet beverages, reducing stress level, and a good night sleep as well, can all add up to burn your abdominal fat.

 

Image credit: By julosstock

Chronic Inflammation: A Common Root for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Do you know that the effect of inflammation can be two-fold?

Under physiological conditions, injuries or infections can trigger natural, healthy immune responses, and acute inflammation is an important part of the healing process.

However, chronic inflammation can act as a trigger for some deadly illnesses; contributing particularly to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Today I help you understand more about it.

How can inflammation lead to deadly diseases?

1.      Compelling evidence from research shows that chronic inflammation in fat tissue plays a key role in insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of insulin, leading to further increase in blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.

2.      Obesity is considered a chronic inflammatory disease. Furthermore, abdominal obesity is a risk factor for various diseases linked to inflammation. Fat cells around the belly are much more biologically active than those under the skin, and release some hormones and inflammatory chemicals. Obesity has been linked to several types of cancer.

3.      Fat and cholesterol surely build up plaque(s) on the arterial walls. Additionally, undetected, chronic infection causes inflammation and the formation of vulnerable plaque, which means that an unstable clot can easily fall off the arterial wall and travel to the heart or brain, resulting in myocardial infarction or stroke.

4.      Chronic inflammation caused by a variety of infectious agents can promote development of cancer by the release of immune modulating factors/substances, the production of DNA damaging free radicals, and the suppression of immune functions.

What can trigger inflammation?

1.      Poor diet: Baseline nutrition is critical, at least, to maintain necessary levels of anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body.
2.      High fat, high sugar and high salt foods: They’re tasty, but the silent fuel to set your body on fire.
3.      Chemicals and toxins: Environmental pollutants from tobacco to asbestos to dangerous chemicals in our home or work place, in the air we breathe and water we drink can be inflammatory sources.
4.      Stress: Emotional or physical stress can cause immune system over-drive or imbalance, followed by chronic inflammation.
5.      Physical inactivity: Exercises can produce beneficial changes in circulating level of insulin or insulin-related pathway, and in eliminating inflammatory mediators.

Collectively, a significant role of chronic inflammation in some killer diseases is clear, and the information here can empower you to control inflammation in various ways.