How to inhibit production of NF-kB – the primary driver of disease-causing inflammation
(NaturalHealth365) Inflammation, the body’s response to injury and infection, is both normal and necessary for healing. But long-term, low-level chronic inflammation is another matter entirely – and it lies at the root of virtually all degenerative disease – including heart disease, cancer, autoimmune conditions and type 2 diabetes.
But, we know – from published research – that a protein complex known as Nuclear Factor kappa B (NF-kB) plays a major role in both inflammation and aging – and that suppressing it can slow the aging process, and the degenerative diseases that occur with it.
Currently, no drug exists to safely and effectively inhibit NF-kB. The good news is: a variety of natural, non-toxic nutrients can do the trick. So, let’s focus on that – right now.
NF-kB contributes to chronic inflammation by releasing pro-inflammatory chemicals
Scientists say that chronic inflammation can result from injury, infection and exposure to environmental toxins.
Unfortunately, it can also be caused by a process that is hard to avoid – the act of normal aging. In fact, aging and inflammation are so closely related that some scientists combine the two processes in a single term: “inflammaging.”
And, when it comes to inflammaging, NF-kB is unquestioningly an instigator.
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Not only does it spur the activity of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines, but it also causes undesirable shortening of telomeres, the protective “caps” on the ends of chromosomes.
Note: longer telomeres have been linked in studies with health, vitality and longevity.
The very process of inflammation ramps up NF-kB activity further, which in turn leads to cell death, tissue loss and DNA damage.
But research shows that suppressing NF-kB has antiaging effects – as demonstrated by a study published in 2011 in Aging and Disease, which showed that inhibiting NF-kB caused mice to age more slowly and live longer.
And, in humans, suppressing NF-kB has been shown to help fight insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, neurodegeneration and cancer.
Let’s take a look at some nutrients that can help inhibit NF-kB.
Reishi mushrooms help to control inflammation and battle Crohn’s disease and cancer
Reishi mushrooms, botanically known as Ganoderma lucidim, have been revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. They are potent adaptogens – meaning they boost immunity and help the body deal with stress.
And, because Reishi mushrooms can alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells, they are highly anti-inflammatory.
In one study, ganoderic acid – a Reishi mushroom constituent – decreased production of inflammatory cytokines in the immune cells of patients with Crohn’s disease.
And, researchers have found that ganoderic acid reduces NF-kB in cancer cells and impairs the growth of tumors by causing apoptosis, or the programmed death of cancer cells. In addition, research supports Reishi mushrooms’ protective effects against lung cancer.
Curcumin limits NF-kB’s tendency to promote fatty deposits, helping to prevent metabolic conditions
Curcumin, the active principle in turmeric, is a true heavyweight when it comes to suppressing NF-kB.
In a study published last February in International Immunopharmacology, researchers found that curcumin’s inhibition of NF-kB reduced inflammation and oxidative stress in the liver – while helping protect against the formation of fatty deposits.
The impressed scientists concluded that curcumin could help to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease from progressing to steatohepatitis, a more severe form of the condition that can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Curcumin’s ability to lower NF-kB gives it potential uses against obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even cancer.
Interesting side note: One cell study showed that curcumin could lead to depletion of treatment-resistant cancer stem cells, helping to prevent cancer recurrence.
Alpha lipoic acid works at the cellular level to limit activation of NF-kB
Alpha lipoic acid (or ALA) can also interfere with NF-kB, thereby “putting the brakes on” oxidative stress and damage.
This natural antioxidant works by scavenging harmful free radicals and toxins that would otherwise damage mitochondrial membranes and DNA in cells.
Another benefit of ALA-induced NF-kB suppression is the reduction of plaque formation in arteries. This helps to slow the development of atherosclerosis – a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.
Finally, ALA helps to increase levels of glutathione, the body’s disease-fighting “master antioxidant.”
ALA is found in organic organ meats, as well as in potatoes, carrots and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale. It is also available as a supplement.
Fish oil combats NF-kB-induced neurodegeneration
With potent anti-inflammatory effects, fish oil is another major player in the battle against harmful NF-kB.
In animal studies, researchers found that supplementing with EPA and DHA (the pair of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) suppressed inflammation in the brain, helping to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease plus other forms of dementia.
Researchers have made recent, promising discoveries involving resolvins – molecules in fish oil derived from omega-3 fatty acids. True to their descriptive name, resolvins help to resolve inflammation once it occurs. Remember, less inflammation means less production of NF-kB, helping to break the inflammatory “vicious cycle.”
In a clinical trial involving obese female participants, raising their levels of resolvins caused the resolution of inflammatory markers. Researchers speculated that resolvins could thereby lower obesity-related inflammatory damage to the cardiovascular system.
N-acetyl cysteine slows the development of neurodegenerative conditions
N-acetyl cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid derivative, interferes with the activation of NF-kB, reducing autoimmune reactions and helping to improve conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
In animal studies, NAC showed potential against Parkinson’s disease by protecting vital dopamine-receiving brain cells against the damaging effects of inflammatory molecules.
In one important study published in Biogerontology, researchers found that a combination of ALA, NAC and vitamin E slowed brain aging by reducing NF-kB and related inflammation.
Beneficial beverages: Green tea scavenges free radicals and reduces oxidative stress
You can access NF-kB-inhibiting phytochemicals in liquid form, as well as in foods and supplements.
Green tea is rich in EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate, which busily scavenges the free radicals that activate NF-kB. With anti-inflammatory, anticancer effects, green tea has been strongly associated with longevity in several peer-reviewed studies.
In a study published just last year in Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, EGCG had beneficial effects on age-related enlargement and scarring of heart muscles, demonstrating its potential against cardiovascular disease.
And resveratrol, a phytochemical found in red wine, is yet another inhibitor of NF-kB. Resveratrol has been found to help prevent retinal degeneration and ease inflammatory bowel disease.
One side note: We, at NaturalHealth365, do not recommend drinking alcohol for a variety of reasons – we’ve written about before.
By the way, resveratrol is available in supplementary form, with typical dosages of 500 mg a day. So, you don’t need to drink wine to get its benefits.
As always, check with your own integrative doctor before adding any supplements to your health routine.
As emerging research reveals, a variety of non-toxic nutrients can help inhibit NF-kB – quenching chronic inflammation and warding off an impressive roster of degenerative diseases. These life-prolonging benefits are just too important to ignore.
Sources for this article include: