by Dr. Michael S. Boss, DC
I often lecture on the topic of systemic inflammation. Most Americans think of inflammation as something that happens to joints or muscles, which is true. What most people don’t understand is that inflammation occurs throughout the body and creates issues at the cellular level that can be absolutely devastating on your health.
Look at it this way, what do all of the following issues have in common: Asthma, age-related degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, arthritis, congestive heart failure, chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia, depression, diabetes, heart attack, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, gastric reflux, lupus, macular degeneration, infections, headaches, hot flashes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, common allergies and cancer? If you answered inflammation, you’re correct!
Many people blame genetics and germs for our major health downfalls, but they would be wrong. In today’s world, inflammation is the enemy. The biggest problem is that the enemy is within us, created by our physiological responses. The good news is that we can combat these issues by taking the right steps.
Inflammation is the protective response of body tissues to irritation or injury. It is a necessary and mandatory response by the body’s immune system to protect us and help us heal. Without adequate inflammatory responses, life wouldn’t last long. Acute inflammation often results in redness, swelling and pain. Chronic systemic inflammation, however, is often silent with no visible changes or obvious signs. It can wreak havoc internally at a cellular level until it becomes significant enough to cause outward health signs.
The Inflammatory Process
The immune system is within the blood. The inflammation process involves various immune responders. White blood cells such as neutrophils, monocytes/macrophages, basophils and eosinophils begin the process. Cytokines, which are hormone-like immune proteins, are the hallmarks of inflammation. The Interleukin like IL-1 and IL-6 and tissue necrosis factor-alpha and nuclear factor kappa B are some of the most important inflammatory cytokines. They sound like villains from a sci-fi movie, but they are important inside us. The presence or stimulation of these substances causes signaling to tissue-swelling chemicals such as bradykinin and histamine which signal the release of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. The result is an inflammatory cocktail circulating throughout your bloodstream that creates chaos to normal function.
The cycle continues with the liver releasing C-reactive protein and fibrinogen. In turn, oxidants and free radicals are created along with enzymes to dissolve dead, altered or dying cells. Unfortunately, these compounds can harm and damage healthy cells. When this happens, your own body is destroying itself. The inflammation response can take on a life of its own, becoming self-perpetuating, and chronic systemic inflammation develops. This type of inflammation has been shown to be intimately involved in the development of obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and, of course, cancer of all types.
Standard American Diet
One of the biggest reasons for high inflammatory and cancer rates in America is right in front of us every day: the “Standard American Diet.” The processed-food American diet is rich in trans fatty acids, sugars, processed unhealthy grains, chemicals, toxins and fake foods that our bodies cannot digest or utilize for anything good. The typical American diet is high in carbohydrates, with roughly twothirds of the average American’s carbohydrates coming from inflammation-promoting, high-glycemic foods, such as bread, soft drinks/sodas, cakes, cookies, sugars/syrups/ jams, potatoes, cereal and pasta. Such substances induce the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs also promote the inflammation process.
Another major dietary contributor to inflammation is the widespread use of vegetable oils like corn, safflower, soy, peanut, cottonseed, sunflower and canola oils. Poor sleep, faulty glucose metabolism, being overweight, depression, malnourishment, and even overeating a single meal can stimulate inflammatory responses.
The Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle
Fortunately, something can be done to reverse these issues, regardless of their severity. Determining the individual’s inflammatory status and causes is vital. Implementing the right nutritional eating plan, exercising properly, getting the right amount of rest, focusing on stress reduction, and taking specific nutriceutical supplements can target inflammatory physiology, halt it in it’s tracks and reverse the damage that was caused.
Dr. Michael Boss has been a practicing chiropractor and wellness practitioner for more than 20 years. He is creator of Elevate Life, and he provides treatment programs that focus on functional healthcare, nutrition, acupuncture, exercise, hormone function and balance, chronic diseases, nutriceuticals and more. He also co-hosts the weekly ELEVATE LIFE Wellness Hour on 550 KTSA. Call 210-264-2570 for an individual consultation, or visit www.elevatelifewellness.com to learn more.