Zinc deficiency may alter how the immune system responds to inflammation

Raw Oysters for zinc

A new study has shown that a zinc deficiency contributes to chronic inflammation by causing improper immune cell activation and dysregulation of a protein that affects inflammation in the cell.

Read more about this research below.

Zinc is an essential mineral in human health required as a cofactor in numerous biological processes including DNA and protein synthesis, cell division, normal growth and development, neurological function and immunity, and wound healing. It is also required for normal taste perception and smell.

Zinc is naturally available in a wide variety of foods with higher amounts found in protein-rich foods including meat, poultry and seafood. Regular intake is necessary to maintain a steady state because it is not stored. Zinc deficiency most often occurs when intake is inadequate or poorly absorbed, when there are increased losses of zinc from the body, or when the requirement for zinc increases. Evidence from NHANES III data show that zinc intakes among older adults might be marginal, increasing the risk of a zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency is thought to contribute to the development of chronic diseases that involve inflammation and often show up in older adults who have a higher risk for zinc deficiency. In a new study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research researchers examined how the immune system responds to zinc deficiency resulting in mechanisms that promote inflammation. Using in vitro cell culture and the aging mouse model, researchers found that zinc deficiency can induce an increase in the inflammatory response in cells by causing improper immune cell activation and dysregulation of cytokine IL-6, a protein that affects inflammation in the cell. When comparing zinc levels in both young and older living mice, the older mice with low zinc levels had a corresponding increase in chronic inflammation and decreased IL-6 methylation, an epigenetic mechanism that is used by cells to control gene expression.

The results of this study provide evidence of a potential link between zinc deficiency and increased risk of chronic inflammation, especially in aging adults.  

Here are the top 10 dietary sources of zinc:

  • Oysters
  • Beef & Lamb (Grass fed)
  • Wheat Germ
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin and squash seeds
  • Cashews
  • Coco & Dark Chocolate (Not milk chocolate)
  • Pork & Chicken (Pasture raised)
  • Mushrooms.

If you don’t eat these foods two to three times a day, then time to look a high quality supplement which contains zinc.

Wong CP, Rinaldi NA, Ho E. Zinc deficiency enhanced inflammatory response by increasing immune cell activation and inducing IL6 promoter demethylation. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Feb 5. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400761. [Epub ahead of print]

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer

This recent abstract succinctly sums up what Drs. Wentz, McNamara, Strand and others have long been telling us about free radicals as the source of disease. The study refers to our antioxidant system and the role that antioxidants play in disease prevention.

Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2009;3(1):73-80.

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer.

Khansari N, Shakiba Y, Mahmoudi M. Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. khansari@nematk.com

Chronic inflammation is a pathological condition characterized by continued active inflammation response and tissue destruction. Many of the immune cells including macrophages, neutrophils and eosinophils are involved directly or by production of inflammatory cytokine production in pathology of chronic inflammation. From literatures, it is appear that there is a general concept that chronic inflammation can be a major cause of cancers and express aging processes. Moreover, many studies suggest that chronic inflammation could have serious role in wide variety of age-related diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Inflammatory process induces oxidative stress and reduces cellular antioxidant capacity. Overproduced free radicals react with cell membrane fatty acids and proteins impairing their function permanently. In addition, free radicals can lead to mutation and DNA damage that can be a predisposing factor for cancer and age-related disorders. This article reviews the antioxidant defense systems, free radicals production and their role in cancer and age related diseases and also some of the recent patent relevant to the field. Study of the role of free radicals in human diseases can help the investigators to consider the antioxidants as proper agents in preventive medicine, especially for cancer and aging processes.

There are many antioxidants and they all work in slightly different ways. Some like vitamin C will reactivate vitamin E and work together. So when you’re looking at your diet and supplements, don’t just take one antioxidant and think you’re good, take a wide range, and some of these are simple vitamins like A, C, E, etc.

Some companies have a single product, or juice, which they claim is all you need. Not that they are bad, but a fruit juice only provides a couple antioxidants and not the full spectrum of necessary antioxidant vitamins and other phytonutrients.

What a dog can teach us about Nutrition


Meet Brandy,  my son’s 4 year old Golden Retriever. My son just relocated from Southern California to take a job here in Denver. So he and Brandy moved in with us for a few weeks until he gets moved into his new place.

He said Brandy has had a persistnat problem with ear infections. He’d just get it cleared up with ear washes and antibiotic ointments, then it would come right back.

Brandy, like most retrievers, loves to eat. Well she stole a bit of our dogs food and refused to eat her food anymore. So we switched her to the food our dog Tucker, a 6 year old Lab Great Dane mix, has been eating for years. Guess what happened after only a week? Her ear infection went away and hasn’t come back!

Now lets see what happened. Brandy had been eating an expensive dog food, but it was primarily grains. Chicken was the first ingredient, but followed immediately by four different types of grain. Tucker’s food is grain free. First  ingredients are bison, lamb, fish, eggs, sweet potatoes, peas, etc.

Grains cause the blood sugar to spike and that in turn sets off inflammation throughout  a dogs body.  Between these it make an ear infection very easy to take hold and not clear up.  The grain free food though does just the opposite, it does not cause the blood sugar to spike and does not set off an avalanche of inflammation. So if an ear infection does pop up, the body can quickly deal with it, and it is gone before you notice it.

High grain diets can also promote weight gain because of all the carbs, grain free diets don’t have this problem. Increased inflammation in the dogs body can lead to a long list of other problems like arthritis, cancers, allergies, and many other problems.

So what can we learn about nutrition from this that improves our health? Simple, when we eat a diet high in refined grains we can suffer the same ailments.


Diabetes, cancers, heart problems, stokes, arthritis, and many more of the modern degenerative diseases. The rapid improvement in Brandy’s ear health is a outward manifestation of the positive changes on the inside.  We can realize the same sort of health improvements by changing our diet from highly refined foods to whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean naturally raised meats (grass fed beef/bison, wild caught fish, etc.)

Top Five Inflammation-Fighting Foods

Our bodies are constantly exposed to internal inflammation as a means of defense against infection. A key part in the formation of wrinkles is inflammation, which causes elastin and collagen to deteriorate and eventually collapse. Although inflammation is a part of how the body naturally heals itself, it may cause premature aging of the skin. Some foods, like processed sugars and unhealthy fats and oils, are natural pro-inflammatory agents. Others, listed below, are known to reduce the effects of inflammation and are a delicious way to get a youthful glow.

Spices: Certain spices such as ginger and tumeric are natural anti-inflammatory agents. They contain phytochemicals, which can repress the proteins that lead to gene mutations, decreasing the incidence of inflammation.

Good fats and oils: Foods like olive oil, nuts and avocado contain heart healthy fats that help regulate cell metabolism and suppress inflammation.

Salmon: A top anti-inflammatory, salmon as well as other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed are necessary for cellular repair.

Brightly colored fruits and veggies: Fruits and vegetables not only act as a source of antioxidants but they also contain phytochemics that buffer and regulate gene expression.

Vitamins: Foods and supplements containing vitamins C and E and minerals can help the body combat the damage created by free radicals.