Monday, September 23, 2013

Inflammation - A Silent Hidden Cause of "Getting Old"

Summer is a time to be actively enjoying the out of doors, but for many, activity is painful. For those who are along in years, they attribute their pains to a “part of getting old”.  Many, not so old, require knee replacements. Yet, there are people living in remote parts of the world remaining very active and pain free in to their 90’s and 100s.
A study in New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 found that one control event is most related to cancer development - and that is CHRONIC INFLAMMATION.
Chronic inflammatory diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's and ulcerative colitis), and even diabetes (also an inflammatory disease) are all great risk factors for cancer. Per Gary Null PhD, three factors contributing to inflammation include: 
1. Free radicals
2. Stress related oxidation affecting mitochondria
3. Food allergies and sensitivities

Free radicals. We are exposed to these elements repeatedly through day to day living and the environment. "Free radicals, also known as oxidants, are harmful by-products of the natural cell metabolism that occurs in the human body... toxic molecules within cells that are produced naturally as the body breaks down food... form as a result of exposure to environmental factors such as pollution, pesticides, tobacco smoke, industrial chemicals/cleaners, personal care products and solar radiation."

Paleo enthusiasts....a word of caution regarding large consumption of meat. Per, " The carnivores, or meat eating animals have an intestinal tract three times the body length, so that the food does not stay in the body for a long time. Meat has iron, which in excess again causes free radicals in the colon. The intestinal tract in the herbivores is ten to twelve times the body length because it takes a long time for the vegetarian food to be absorbed. The human intestine is just like the herbivores, twelve times the body length. The hydrochloric acid content in the stomach is very high in meat eating animals. It is twenty times less in herbivores. If you are eating a meat diet, free radicals are being produced, carcinogens are produced, and you don't have that problem in a vegetarian diet."
Paleo diet promoters seem to bounce around quite a bit regarding the amount of meat one should consume. A friend who eats paleo because of serious health issues, tells me that true paleo promotes 80% vegetables and fruits - not a plateful of meat, an image promoted by others.  Truthfully, I am confused by the Paleo people I talk to as they seem to lack consistency. I suppose, like many, we choose to eat a certain way a great percentage of the time, but not exclusively. I have Paleo friends who do enjoy a piece of celebratory cake containing gluten now and then. 
Cooked meat produces arachidonic acid - a free radical created when foods are cooked at high temperature. Organ  meats, such as liver, are particularly high in this acid - which promotes Omega 6. Besides seared meats, other high temperature foods such as French fries, pasteurized dairy, and even deep friend fish - produce arachidonic acid.  If a person's diet is abundant in anti-oxidant rich foods, one's body should generally, be able to counter the effects of free radicals. (Generally being key, as a person with compromised immunit or already diseased will not fare as well aganst free readicals.)

Omega 6, in excess, contributes to inflammation. We NEED Omega 6, but balance is, of course, is key.  Because we, as a general population, consume processed foods laden with Omega 6, we are a very out of balance society.  We need to be on purpose with Omega 3 consumption.

Stress does what to what? We all have Mitochondria, a critical component of a healthy cell. "Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cells. They generate the energy that our cells need to do their jobs. For example, brain cells need a lot of energy to be able to communicate with each other and also to communicate with parts of the body that may be far away, to do this substances need to be transported along the cells, which needs lots of energy. Muscle fibres also need a lot of energy to help us to move, maintain our posture and lift objects."
Stress creates oxidation which in turn creates free radicals in our cells. When a cell is overpowered by free radicals, it becomes diseased, promotes tumor growth - mitochondria are depleted. Seeing that mitochondria ARE our fuel, it is very important to find ways to reduce stress. Learn to say “NO”, and find what makes you happy and do it - you not only deserve it, but your long term health may depend on it.

All three causes of inflammation are closely related as you can see. The opposite of the causes would be ANTI inflammatory.
1. Anti Oxidants (combat free radicals)
2. Happiness and joy (counters stress)
3. Whole, non-allergenic foods
The last cause of inflammation is one we have control over, if we make the choice. Most people eat what they please and it catches up with them later in life, which we have dismissed as "signs of aging". Fruits and vegetables are known for providing anti oxidants to the body.

A great tip recently heard in a training was to list 5 favorite vegetables and fruits, or whole foods - aka not from a box, bag, middle of the grocery store; and then make those 5 foods 80% of your diet for 30 days. I can assure you, if you do this, you will feel immensely better, probably will have lost some weight and experience less joint pain.
Remember, life won't change unless you make change happen. Now that you know the three causes of inflammation, and the detrimental effects it can have on the body as our earthly journey continues, are you going to continue on the same path, or do you feel a need to make some changes?
Don't be discouraged...I have been where many of you may be. Let's chat if you struggle every time and I can share tips that helped me immensely in getting my health back.

To your health,
Rita S.

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