Why are we so inflammed? Epidemics of chronic disease are on the rise including diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease and cancer. How can we begin to address the inflammation and start to reverse it? Some of the reasons for chronic inflammation include our levels of stress in Western culture, our sedentary desk bound lifestyle, inflammatory diet and our poor gut function. Stress is often the tipping factor in our Western Culture. We do not value our families enough or community in general. Spending time with people that we love helps reduce inflammation. We are more concerned with productivity and running ourselves ragged versus taking really good care of ourselves and valuing rest and relaxation.
We all have an individual threshold where we start to feel stressed. It is important to know yourself so you understand how prone you are to feeling stressed. We all need tools to live in balance with our stress. I suggest doing a daily meditation practice for 20 minutes, exercise for at least 30 minutes- the important thing is that you move your body doing something that you love. Hydrotherapy in the form of hot saunas followed by a cold shower can reset the nervous system. Cold showers in general can help the body feel less inflammed and support your mitochondria (the energy producing organelles in your cells). Massage, acupuncture and healing touch can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) versus the sympathetic system which is stimulated by stress.
Sitting is the new smoking so we need to do consistent exercise every day. As we age, we are prone to sarcopenia which is a decline in our strength and loss of muscle. We need to build our strength by going to lift weights three times per week or incorporate strength building yoga into our routine or resistance band exercises. Work with a personal trainer if you need more direction. See a chiropractor who can adjust you and offer you more pointed exercises for your particular goals.
To lower inflammation, we need to eliminate factors in diet that increase inflammation and this is a vast topic. Eliminate natural sweeteners in the diet for starters- read labels. Artificial sweeteners like Splenda mess with metabolism and cause you to be prone to weight gain. There was a study in Medscape this past week linking aspartame with higher rates of cancer. Avoid all sweeteners which lead to more inflammation. Sweeteners on occasion that are fine include stevia, monk fruit, maple syrup, honey, date sugar, coconut sugar or molasses.
To lower inflammation, we need to eliminate processed food, white flour, refined grains. We need to eliminate bad fats such as trans fats and hydrogenated fats. We need to cut out sugar and alcohol which leads to permeability in our intestines. We need to potentially cut out common food sensitivities like gluten and dairy products. In my patients that have arthritis, I often recommend cutting out nightshade vegetables which can contribute to chronic pain (white potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and hot peppers, eggplant). An elimination for 21 days followed by an reintroduction could elicit some valuable information for you to cut down on your inflammation.
Because 70% of your immune system is in your gut in the form of GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue), most inflammatory diseases have some underlying dysbiosis (imbalance in good and bad bacteria) brought on by eating a poor diet, environmental toxins like pesticides and herbicides, food sensitivities and more.
For starters we need to eat an antiinflammatory diet. It is best to focus in eating a diet high in non starchy vegetables, berries, low glycemic fruit, protein from high quality sources like organic pasture raised eggs (if there is no sensitivity to eggs), pasture raised poultry, grass fed beef, omega 3 from wild fish (SMASH) sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring). Monounsaturated fats from avocado, raw nuts and seeds can be incorporated as well. Soaking overnight in water can help with digestion of nuts or sprouting if necessary. Nuts come up on food sensitivity testing a lot so if you have poor gut function, you might need to wait before you introduce nuts. Come see me if you want to talk about this subject at Parallel Wellness in downtown Calgary. Dr. Robin Vinge 4032321283
References: The Peigan Diet Mark Hyman