Did you know that your diet goes a long way towards helping you keep your nervous system healthy? The foods we eat have a big impact on our overall health. Focusing on foods that fight inflammation and oxidative stress is one of the best ways to heal nerve pain. When it comes to antioxidants for nerve regeneration, resveratrol and curcumin are your new best friends.
“LOADED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS!”
You’ve probably seen this phrase — or something very similar to it — printed on all manner of “healthy,” fruity drinks. And with good reason! Antioxidants are very helpful, and the more we learn about them, the more we discover that they do a lot of work towards helping ward off some of the more troublesome issues our bodies can encounter.
Our bodies do a lot of things naturally that can, for lack of a better term, spin out of control. Many of the processes that our bodies undergo are clearly helpful to us, but only up to a certain point. If these processes keep happening, past the point of their usefulness, problems arise.
Cancer could be considered an extreme example of this principle at work. Cell division is a very natural part of the growth process — it’s literally how our bodies stay alive! But in the case of cancer, cell division runs amok, and cells start growing and dividing in places where they’re not supposed to do so.
To a much lesser extent, inflammation and oxidative stress are natural body processes that can wind up getting a bit out of control. When they do, we experience consequences — nerve damage can be one of them.
Situation Normal, All Fouled Up
Chronic inflammation and too much oxidative stress are among the body’s most common SNAFUs, which is a big part of why there has been such a marketing push, in recent years, behind products that claim to help with these conditions.
Normally, inflammation and oxidation are present in your body within limits. They help your body operate naturally, but only as long as they’re able to be kept under control.
The Inflammation Paradox
Most of the time, inflammation is relatively good for our bodies. When trauma happens, inflammation is one of the first responses. In other words? Inflammation is supposed to be a healing response from your body.
So why does it cause us so much trouble? How can inflammation cause causes nerve damage if it’s supposed to be “one of the good guys?”
The problems with inflammation come when it’s allowed to be present in the body for too long. When it’s just doing its job, inflammation is helpful. It brings blood and antibodies to the site of trauma so that the healing process can begin. When inflammation hangs around for too long, though, it damages nerves in the area. If it’s widespread enough, this damage can become systemic.
Oxidative Stress: The Gateway Problem
Cell oxidation is another one of those processes that only causes problems when it’s allowed to get out of control. Under normal circumstances, your body’s cells are constantly undergoing oxidation — it’s only when this process is not able to be properly balanced out by the body’s natural antioxidants that problems start to arise.
Oxidative stress is what we call this condition, and it essentially describes a chemical reaction that runs amok. When it does, it damages the surrounding tissues, and can eventually lead to the kind of widespread, chronic inflammation that goes on to cause problems like nerve pain.
The Right Foods Help Keep Your Body in Check
Focusing on a diet that includes compounds that help to boost your body’s health systems is an effective way to make sure you are getting everything they need. If nerve damage has already set in, this may also be a good start to fighting back. For those of us whose nerves are still healthy, introducing some of the following foods in your diet can help to head nerve damage off at the pass.
Recently, resveratrol and curcumin have been found to be two of the most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies are showing us more and more clearly how effective they are at combating problems related to peripheral neuropathy.
The Restorative Abilities of Resveratrol
Grapes used in red wine are a source (along with peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, and dark chocolate) for something called resveratrol. The more we learn about resveratrol, the more we learn that it is helpful in many ways.
The benefits that come from resveratrol are vast, but for our purposes, we’re mostly going to focus on how much work it does to fight inflammation and promote nerve regeneration.
Not too long ago, researchers started to notice that resveratrol is very effective when it comes to reversing the inflammation associated with certain airway diseases. This suggested that it could be used for other anti-inflammatory purposes, as well.
Worth noting is that while the aforementioned foods are certainly sources for resveratrol, it may be best to take a supplement to ensure that you’re consuming a quantity sufficient enough to have anti-inflammatory, therapeutic effects. Oh, and refrain from red wine since alcohol is inflammatory (shucks.).
A Healthy, Natural Alternative
While we’re still learning exactly how resveratrol fights inflammation, everything we’ve learned about this powerful little compound tells us that it does so rather effectively.
In fact, resveratrol has even been suggested as an answer to something known as “The French Paradox,” which refers to the fact that the French population enjoys a diet that is relatively high in saturated fats but seems to somehow also experience a very low rate of cardiovascular disease.
What we do know for sure is that resveratrol helps the body produce something called “MyD88,” which is also known as a “brake pedal protein.”
You’ll remember that inflammation is a normal process the body does, so long as it’s kept from getting too out of control. Well, MyD88 is one of the proteins your body uses to make sure this happens naturally. What started out as a study to find out more about how MyD88 works eventually wound up telling us that it can potentially be used in the development of other anti-inflammatories.
Specifically, medical professionals are hopeful that compounds like this can be used as an alternative to solutions like steroids, which are effective at fighting inflammation, but sometimes do so with a series of side effects.
Curcumin Makes Its Way West
Found in a variety of plants like turmeric and ginger, curcumin is a natural compound that’s been used regularly in Eastern medicinal practice for centuries. China and India are ahead of the curve on this one, but the Western medical community is finally starting to get caught up in learning about the health benefits of curcumin.
And not a moment too soon, at that. Curcumin is very powerful, and some of the more recent studies done on it have shown that “it is very likely that curcumin has several biochemical actions that are not yet elucidated.”
In other words? We don’t even fully know how good curcumin is for us. There are definitely worse mysteries to solve.
What we do know, though, tells us that curcumin is a powerful food compound that can help in the quest for health.
Natural Pain and Inflammation Relief? Yes, Please!
Not only has curcumin shown itself to be effective when it comes to fighting off inflammation, but it does this as effectively as some of the over-the-counter painkillers we typically turn to. What’s more, it does its work completely naturally.
A recent study even showed that curcumin is just about as effective as ibuprofen when it comes to managing things like minor pain and inflammation. More specifically, it accomplishes this without producing any kind of adverse side-effects.
Curcumin is also a naturally-occurring antioxidant, which means that it goes a long way towards reducing the oxidative stress that often goes on to cause widespread inflammation throughout the body.
Supplement Your Diet with Caution
Curcumin is naturally-occurring in many foods, but our body doesn’t really absorb it very well all on its own. For this reason, curcumin is typically formulated into a supplement, which our body can then absorb more easily and effectively. Another way to increase absorption is to combine it with ingredients like fats, black pepper, and foods rich in quercetin (such as onions, peppers, and capers).
Research has shown that at 1000mg/day, curcumin has the power to potentially work as effectively as ibuprofen when it comes to fighting off inflammation and nerve pain.
However, since these supplements tend to introduce very high concentrations of curcumin into the body, it should be noted that overdoing it can potentially have unpleasant impacts.
In high doses, curcumin can be irritating to the GI tract. Similarly, it can lead to contraction of the gallbladder, so if you have gallstones or another potential obstruction, it’s a good idea to take it easy on the curcumin supplements. The same goes for those with gastric ulcers.
As a rule of thumb, it’s a smart idea to at least have a cursory chat with your doctor before introducing new supplements to your diet.
Fight Inflammation Promote Nerve Regeneration with Antioxidants
Anything that allows you to potentially calm nerve pain without the use of drugs or chemical compounds is going to be better than the alternative. And now you’ve got two anti-inflammatories and antioxidants sourced naturally from food. To top it off, the more inflammation is reduced, the better the antioxidants go to work for your nerve regeneration.
Resveratrol is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants around. You can get it from peanuts, red grapes, red wine, blueberries, cranberries, and dark chocolate, but it might be best to take a supplement to ensure that you’re getting enough for therapeutic benefit.
Curcumin is another naturally-occurring antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, but again, you may want to take a supplement if you’re looking to enjoy its more directly noticeable benefits.
These two compounds have already proven to be huge assets in the fight against inflammation and oxidative stress, and researchers have only just gotten started learning about how useful they can truly be in nerve regeneration.
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