What do Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes and heart disease have in common? While these are different conditions that are contributed by several factors, including genetics and environmental exposure, there is one common denominator – chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation is an essential and protective mechanism in the event of irritation, injury or infection. Symptoms of acute inflammation include swelling, redness, and sometimes loss of movement, e.g. B. a sprained ankle. Your body builds up swelling on the damaged area of tissue and sends messages to the rest of the immune system to take healing measures.
This type of inflammation lasts for a few days and ends when the injury has gone through the initial stages of healing. If acute inflammation remains unresolved, it can develop into chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is defined as any inflammatory process that lasts longer than two weeks. Causes are persistent, non-degradable pathogens, unsolved viral infections, persistent foreign bodies and overactive immune reactions. Many chronic inflammatory processes are easily undetected because they are typically not as obvious as acute conditions.
The cumulative damage from chronic inflammation contributes to many serious conditions: the above; everything that ends with “–itis”; external ailments such as acne, eczema and psoriasis; and internal conditions like asthma, fibromyalgia, celiac disease and many more.
HEALTH IS WEALTH
Our health is very similar to your bank accounts. If you start to work in your mid twenties and spend your entire paycheck, by the time you reach your retirement years, you will have nothing and your lifestyle will change drastically. Likewise, if you do not have healthy habits, your health will suffer.
My patients often report that their health deteriorated dramatically between the ages of 40 and 50, with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. But the processes of these diseases began to lay their foundation when these patients were in their 20s and 30s.
It is important to be proactive and invest in yourself by incorporating healthy habits. Eating well and exercising regularly will improve your immune system and lower inflammation to prevent chronic illnesses or increased complications.
DIET IS CRITICAL
Avoid anything white. The average American eats 160 pounds of white sugar and 200 pounds of white flour a year. This rule includes white salt, white flour, white rice, white potatoes, and white sugar. These foods cause rapid blood sugar spikes, which lead to an increase in dangerous by-products in the bloodstream. The immune system responds to eliminate these by-products associated with premature wrinkling, cataracts, diabetes, and heart disease.
You are the meat that you eat. The diet of conventionally reared livestock consists mainly of grain. The negative effects of their carbohydrate-based diets are also communicated to the consumer, and their meat contains 20 to 30 times more inflammatory fatty acids than its 100 percent grass-fed counterparts. With a higher percentage of omega-3 fatty acids, grass-fed meat can support less inflammation. Other foods high in omega-3 include salmon, walnuts, and freshly ground flaxseed.
Eat the rainbow. Add lots of colorful, fresh foods to your diet. The color in fruits and vegetables reflects the antioxidant capacity of the food. Antioxidants are extremely protective of chronic disease by acting as scavengers in search of inappropriate inflammatory chemicals in our tissues. Foods that are high in antioxidants include fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, dark chocolate, and red wine in moderation. Make sure that each meal is at least five different colors.
Fish oil. The high fish consumption has become a catch as the heavy metal toxins they often contain sometimes outweigh the health benefits. A good quality fish oil daily can help maintain the healthy fatty acids you may be missing. Fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. EPA is especially helpful in reducing general inflammation, while DHA is very brain specific and an excellent nutrient for preventing memory loss in adults and healthy brain development in children.
Curcumin. Curcumin is found in the spicy turmeric and is being extensively researched as a powerful antioxidant that combats inflammation in conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s available in the form of an encapsulated pill, or you can include turmeric in your daily diet. If you are targeting a specific condition, the best benefit can be obtained from the encapsulated form.
Boswellia. Boswellia, also called frankincense, is an ancient Ayurvedic herb from India that is similar to curcumin in its anti-inflammatory effects. It balances the immune response and has been shown to cause cancer cell death. In daily practice, I see this herb have profound effects on pain relief and increased range of motion in my arthritis sufferers.
Since chronic inflammation is the foundation of all chronic illness, it is important to reduce our inflammatory burden for our long-term benefit. Diet and lifestyle can dramatically change the direction of your health. If you want to add any supplements, check with your doctor to make sure they are right for you.
Thalia Hale is a naturopath at Medical Options for Wellness. She can be reached at drthalia.com.