Saturday, September 7, 2013

Healing Chronic Inflammation Naturally: Protect Yourself from the Most Common Causes of Death

We have learned that acute inflammation assists the body's healing mechanism and should not be overly suppressed or it increases healing time.  However, long-term, chronic inflammation damages the body and causes, among other diseases, chronic diseases that are the most common causes of death:  heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, stroke and diabetes.

Medications do reduce the amount of inflammation but don't deal with the cause and have a high rate of serious side effects.  See my two previous blogs.

The following are steps that can be taken to deal with the causes of chronic inflammation.

1.  Look for the cause.  An elevated C-reactive protein or cardiac (hs) C-reactive protein is the most common sign in blood tests that there is inflammation in the body. Lp-Pla2 levels show inflammation in the arteries. Causes are varied and can include:

  • SAD diet (standard American diet, high sugar, trans-fats, gluten, dairy, low nutrient diet)
  • inflammed intestinal tract from poor diet, candida, food allergies, not enough good bacteria, parasites, etc.
  • Psychological stress
  • low grade infection, including gum disease and teeth infections, low grade infections causing chronic fatigue such as Epstein-Barr and Cytomegalovirus, or Mycoplasma Pneumonia and Chlamydia pneumonia which are associated with chronic joint pain, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases, etc.
  • hormone imbalance including insulin, thyroid, and sex hormones
  • weight gain--fat cells produce inflammatory cytokines
  • allergies--both environmental/inhalant and food allergies
  • environmental pollutants and toxins, heavy metals
  • arthritis--often caused by one of the above

2.  Improve Your Diet.  Foods implicated to cause an increase in inflammation are:

  • Processed foods including soda and fruit juice cocktails.  Processed foods tend to be high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and many chemicals.  Also be careful as well with the processed "gluten-free" breads and other products, as they also tend to be high in sugar and chemicals.
  • White sugar, high fructose corn syrup, other sweeteners and flour products.  These turn into glucose quickly in the body, causing a rapid rise in blood glucose.  This causes insulin to rise which causes inflammation. 
  • Polyunsaturated vegetable oils and Trans-fatty acids (Crisco, vegetable oil, corn oil, margarine, etc.). These have too much omega 6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory.  The trans-fats replace the healthy fats on the cell membranes and don't have the capacity to do the job of the omega 3 and 9 fats, and the cells cannot function to full capacity, causing inflammation.  They also increase free radicals which trigger inflammation.
  • Excessive meat (in some situations too little meat can also cause inflammation).
  • GMO (genetically modified) grains and gluten (cause inflammation in the intestinal tract); etc.

Above is Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory pyramid, eating mostly fruits and vegetables.  The only problem I have with this pyramid is that he puts grains on the second level.  Many people are allergic to various grains, especially since most grains (especially wheat and corn) are genetically modified.  This will increase inflammation in the gut.  Many people with insulin sensitivity will have their insulin rise when they eat grains, which also will increase inflammation.  It is important to determine if you have allergies or insulin sensitivity if you are eating grains.

The other concern I have is soy.  Many people are allergic to soy, and unfermented soy has some inflammatory effects.  If you eat soy, eat the fermented versions, such as fermented bean paste, miso, natto, real soy sauce, tempeh, pickled tofu, etc.

Some foods have anti-inflammatory effects.  Papaya and pineapple have proteolytic enzymes (papain and bromelain), which "digest" the inflammatory cells.  Salmon has omega-3 fatty acids which are used by the body to stop inflammation.  It also has astaxanthin which has high anti-inflammatory properties.  Tomatoes are high in lutein which has anti-inflammatory properties (though some people with arthritis are aggravated by plants from the nightshade family such as tomatoes and peppers).  Red peppers, avocados, and cruciferous vegetables also have anti-inflammatory properties. Walnuts have healthy anti-inflammatory fats. The spices tumeric, ginger, rosemary and oregano are also on the anti-inflammatory list.

Generally a low simple carb, high complex carb, and palm size amount of protein at each meal with healthy fats is an anti-inflammatory diet.

3.  Heal the Gut.  The intestinal tract has more immune cells and receptors than anywhere else in the body.  It also has more neurotransmitter receptors than the brain, and is often considered the "second brain."  The immune system and the neurotransmitter system are intertwined, each one affecting the other.

The bacteria in the intestinal tract is like a living organism.  Then the bacterial colony is healthy, it performs many important functions for the body.  When it is sick (dysbiosis) with not enough good bacteria, too much yeast or fungus such as candida, or bad bacteria and parasites, inflammation results and important body processes are not completed efficiently.

Inflammation causes leaky gut (the glue between the cells holding them tightly together does not function well) which allows larger molecules of food to enter the blood stream. The immune system sees these particles as a foreign invader and cause more inflammation to fight them, causing food allergies and sensitivities.

It is important to clean out excessive candida.  This is most effectively done with medication for 1-2 weeks, followed by a good anti-candida supplement for a month or so.  My anti-candida diet for 2-4 weeks is no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no fruit juice, yeast or alcohol.  You can eat meat, fish and eggs, any vegetables (though limit the starchy vegetables), fruits, nuts and seeds and legumes.  This is different than many candida diets out there but it works well for my patients.  This is accompanied by a good probiotic, at least 100,000 billion units a day.  Continue the probiotics at a level of 20-30,000 billion units per day.

There are many products on the market to heal the lining of the gut.  We use one called GI Fortify from Pure.

Have food allergies tested through an IgG and/or IgA blood food allergy test.  If there are a high number of reactions follow a food rotation diet, which is usually described with the results of the testing.  Or do a food allergy elimination diet.  You find instructions at many websites.

4.  Deal with any underlying infections.

5.  Balance thyroid, insulin, and sex hormones.

6.  If inflammation continues, is chronic or severe, test for heavy metals and environmental toxins.

7.  Take anti-inflammatory supplements.

The next blog will be dedicated to describing anti-inflammatory supplements.

Until we meet again,
Dr. Judi

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