Articles > Inflammation = Degenerative Disease

How to reduce inflammation to be healthier


by Bonnie Minsky

Inflammation has long been linked to both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Now, research has proven that chronic inflammation can be the root source of such degenerative disorders as allergies, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, digestive disorders, heart disease, hormonal imbalances and osteoporosis.

Andrew Weil, holistic health M.D., Nicholas Perricone, M.D., an anti-aging expert, Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., a biochemist who popularized the concept "genetic nutritioneering," and health writer Jack Challem, author of The Inflammation Syndrome, have spoken widely about the damage that inflammation causes.

Injured tissues become inflamed and result in redness, heat, swelling, pain and loss of function. When acute inflammation doesn’t shut down, it becomes chronic and causes damage to the injured tissues. Bland, the nutritional biochemist, says, "Inflammatory stimuli, such as bacterial infection, trauma, ischemic events, stress-related events, toxic exposures, allergens and chronic viral infections activate the inflammatory response."

According to the health experts mentioned, the biggest culprit in causing abnormal inflammation is the pathetic "standard American diet" (SAD) of heavily processed convenience and fast foods.
(*The Well: Based on research, we suggest that Candida is also involved. Its toxic byproducts contribute to inflammation. Ask us for info on C.)

Perricone believes that "Inflammation equals aging. Inflammation is the reason you get wrinkles; why you forget everything from where you left your car keys to your neighbor’s first name; why you can be irritable and depressed, and why you lose the healthy bloom of youth."

Inflammation is what causes arthritic pain, stiffness when using your muscles, the wheezing of asthma and the discomfort of allergies. It is even possible that the progression of atherosclerosis is directly related to chronic inflammation in up to 50 percent of cases. Excess acid production also increases the inflammatory response leading to loss of bone and joint tissues.
(*The Well: Total protein intake should be monitored, as it increases acidity and the production of arachidonic acid specifically. Though plant sources of protein are less likely to do this, protein consumption beyond nutritional needs still promote acidity and inflammation.)

To reduce degenerative disease, it’s necessary to avoid pro-inflammatory foods completely and rely exclusively on anti-inflammatory foods

Pro-inflammatory foods to avoid:

* red meats from corn-fed, antibiotic/hormone laden animals
* saturated fats such as lard and meat fats
* fried foods
* partially hydrogenated (trans fats) found in margarines, chips, candies, cereals, snack foods and baked goods
* cooking oils that are exclusively corn, safflower, sunflower or soy based
* soft drinks (both high sugar and diet varieties)
* excess sugar (both from heavily processed sources, such as candy and from naturally occurring sources such as fruit juice (*The Well: The high fructose corn syrup in virtually all processed foods is extremely dangerous; involved in diabetes and many other diseases.) 

Perricone describes sugar as one of the most serious causes of inflammation, rapid aging and weight gain

ANTI-inflammatory foods and dietary supplements to include:

* foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially cold water, wild-caught fish (or fish oil supplements tested and free of contaminants)
* raw nuts and seeds (especially pecans, almonds, walnuts and flaxseeds)
* homemade soups made with poultry or meat bones (boiling the bones releases glucosamine and chondroitin into the soup which, when ingested becomes bioavailable in the body. They can reduce inflammation and helps repair cartilage)
* dark green vegetables (especially kale, seaweed and greens)
* antioxidants in supplement form (especially vitamins C and E, and quercetin)
* zinc taken in supplement form which assists healing and reduces inflammation
* extra virgin organic olive oil, expeller pressed grapeseed and avocado oils

Sugary foods quickly elevate blood sugar, creating an insulin release along with free radicals that oxidize fats. When oxidized, the fats form plaque deposits in our arteries, leading to disease. Thus, a diet high in sweets, pasta, fruit juices, cereals and even rice cakes can actually lead to heart disease. Insulin release also increases stored body fat and release of pro-inflammatory chemicals causing cell damage and accelerated aging.:

If you are already showing chronic inflammatory symptoms, consider following these dietary recommendations:

1) Eat lean meats and poultry that are free-range, organic and not corn-fed (i.e. grass-fed beef).
(*The Well: Be SURE it WAS grass-fed. This makes all the difference as to how your body utilizes the fat; as well as numerous other health benefits.]

2) Eat a wide variety of vegetables (the deeper the colors, the better).

3) Use cold-pressed, uncooked olive oil (in salad dressings) and grapeseed or avocado oil for cooking.

4) Avoid products that contain added sugars (especially white sugar and high fructose corn syrup).
(*The Well: If it’s a choice between sugar and artificial sweeteners, always choose sugar— just use organic Sucanat [SUgar CAne NAtural], a completely all natural, unrefined sugar. OR, use Stevia, a zero calorie sweetener from the Stevia rebaudiana plant {safe for diabetics}.)

5) Avoid or limit your intake of cow’s milk products; at least leave them off a week or two as an experiment.

6) Avoid or limit your intake of heavily processed grains and grains containing GLUTEN if you suspect an intolerance to them (brown rice, wild rice and millet are gluten-free). (*The Well: also, quinoa, teff, and corn)

7) Eat organic foods whenever possible.

8) Identify and avoid foods to which you have an allergy or sensitivity. (*The Well: This is a process of first eliminating foods, keeping a record and observing any change, then one at a time reintroducing them and then repeating the process.)

9) Eat WILD-CAUGHT, cold water fish at least three times weekly, especially salmon.

10) Eliminate all trans fats. Avoid added saturated fats.

Dr. Andrew Weil's comment:
"The idea on the medical horizon is that chronic inflammation is a root cause of degenerative diseases."

It is time for medical schools to improve nutrition education. If physicians are trained to use "food as medicine," they may not need to rely upon drugs (and their negative side-effects) to treat the inflammatory process.
(*The Well: Please excuse our cynicism, but with money almost exclusively the motivating factor in this country, we doubt that very much. It is our philosophy that our personal health is primarily OUR personal responsibility. And NO one has the incentive WE do to take care of it.)

Bonnie Minsky is a Licensed and Certified Nutrition Specialist, Public Health Educator and Certified menopause Educator with a private practice in Northbrook, IL.

This column is for information only and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by Ms. Minsky.


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