camping in weather this cold can easily reduce inflammation on the short term – because it’s like sleeping in an icebox. (Long term, it can weaken the immune system, though!)
Resident Medical Authority: J. E. Williams, OMD, FAAIM
THE INFLAMMATION CONNECTION
As a practicing clinician, I hear it all the time: “I haven’t felt well for months! I have low-grade joint pain and stiffness, muscle aches, neck pain, headaches, abdominal bloating, fatigue; and, I can’t think clearly and totally feel out of it.” The MD general practitioner says it’s stress and aging, possibly some fibromyalgia, and then tells you every thing is fine by your blood tests; even though your blood sugar is pushing 100, your triglycerides and LDL are close to the top of the normal range, and your C-reactive protein is a little high. Your chiropractor says you have Candida, and your naturopath says it’s adrenal fatigue. The only thing that seems to help is acupuncture, but your acupuncturist can’t explain why it works and informs you that your liver Qi is stagnant. But the effects don’t last; even though you feel somewhat better, it doesn’t take you all the way back to normal.
What none of your doctors know is that you have low grade chronic inflammation – the epidemic of all postmodern epidemics – and it’s making you sick, predisposing you to degenerative disease and shortening your life. At the same time, it’s robbing you of quality of life – now.
Floyd H. Chilton, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University and author of Inflammation Nation, says: “chronic inflammation is overwhelming our health care system.” Immune system activated inflammatory molecules are associated with every major degenerative disease, including arthritis and Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. They’re also associated with autoimmune diseases, like Lupus and Hashimoto’s, and infectious conditions, such as Hepatitis and Lyme’s. Obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS, and accelerated aging can also be caused by chronic inflammation.
Researchers have found an inflammation connection with Type II Diabetes. Overnutrition (a hybrid term meaning eating too much all the time) leads to insulin resistance, causing islet cell dysfunction in the pancreas, which causes oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress, amyloid deposition in the pancreas, fat accumulation in the muscles, liver and pancreas, high blood fats like LDL, “bad cholesterol,” and high glucose levels, “blood sugar.” All together they cause significant autotoxicity and massive cellular stress that induces an inflammatory response, which overwhelms the immune system and leads to more disease.
The solution is supposed to be simple. Change your lifestyle. Exercise more. Eat less. Even Benjamin Franklin had a clue: “To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals,” Poor Richards Almanac (1737). However, many people have already made these changes: reduced carbohydrates, eliminated gluten, consume mostly alkaline foods, use filtered water, take supplements, get chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture treatments, and drink green smoothies. So, what’s missing?
The immune system, once disrupted in profound ways over a lifetime, is so burdened with deep cellular toxicity that it is unable to reset itself. You get somewhat better, but still experience chronic low-grade symptoms that persist year after year because your cell receptors are not responding effectively, even to the natural foods. Your genes are not picking up healthy clues and cannot express positive biochemical functions. Individual variations in gene expression and detoxification pathways can vary up to 1,000 times from person to person, making you highly sensitive to even small amounts of environmental chemicals or hormones, like estrogen. Then, what’s the solution?
Consume a plant-based diet, BUT get enough soluble and insoluble fiber. Take the right kind of essential fatty acids, principally focusing on EPA and GLA. Cut out the sugar, AND avoid overeating fruits. Add antioxidant supplements like Vitamin C and Zinc, improve Vitamin D3 levels, AND every day consume small amounts of high polyphenol superfoods like pomegranate. Also, remember to sip your green tea, which is high in catechins that knock out inflammation molecules.
If that’s not enough, get comprehensive testing, including homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Include antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and sedimentation rate (ESR). These, and other tests, are necessary to find out if you have low-grade inflammation. Have sophisticated lipid tests, like the NMR LipoProfile that tells more about your LDL, including its association with insulin resistance. Similarly, get an Omega-3 fatty acid test so you know if you’re getting enough, if your fish oil supplements are working, and if your ratio of Omega 3s to 6s is optimal.
And, mention to your acupuncturist that her needles work because the body responds to insertion by modulating immune response factors, including lowering tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukins 1 and 4 (IL-1, IL-4), and the highly pro-inflammatory cytokine, IL-6.
We want to know your thoughts: Do you think your immune system could be overburdened?
Donath, MY and Shoelson, SE. Focus on: Metabolism and immunology. Type 2 diabetes as an inflammatory disease. Nature Reviews Immunology 11, 98-107 (February 2011).
Wang WJ, et al. Effects of electroacupuncture of unilateral and bilateral “zusanli” (ST 36) on serum TNF-alpha, IL-1 and IL-4 levels in rats with chronic inflammatory pain. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2010 Dec;35(6):429-32.
Ouyang BS, et al. Effects of electroacupuncture and simple acupuncture on changes of IL-1, IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10 in peripheral blood and joint fluid in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2010 Oct;30(10):840-4.
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