Tag Archives: wellness

Fix your pain with your diet

Businesswoman Having Backache At Work

Inflammation is all the rage lately. And rightfully so. Research has shown that chronic inflammation is at the core of most, if not all, of the chronic diseases that affect Americans. But what about chronic pain? Could chronic joint pain, back pain, or muscle pain be caused by chronic inflammation? And can it be alleviated by changing your diet? The answer is yes.

What is Inflammation?

First, we must understand what inflammation is. Inflammation is the term given to describe the biological response that occurs as a result of tissue damage. Bacterial infections, trauma, chemical exposures and dying tissue may all start the inflammatory cascade. In human physiology there are two kinds of inflammation. First, there is the acute form. In this form of inflammation the body responds to an injury by creating an environment that is conducive to healing and tissue repair. The body does this by sending fluids and blood to the area. That’s why the injury swells, turns red and becomes warm to the touch. This is a necessary step after an injury. Acute inflammation is a good thing for the body.

The second type of inflammation, called chronic inflammation, is not a good thing for the body. Chronic inflammation is a lower grade inflammatory response, but it is persistent. Unlike acute inflammation, which resolves, chronic inflammation is a continuous phenomenon that persists silently for years on end. The chronicity of the response is precisely what makes it so problematic. It increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and many other conditions.

Chronic Inflammation and Pain

How does chronic inflammation affect your pain level? First, it’s important to remember the most widely used pain relievers in the world like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin work by reducing inflammation, not by working directly on nerves. This should illustrate the importance of inflammation in producing pain in the human body. However, there are ways to reduce inflammation without resorting to medications, which have serious side-effect profiles, even when taken as directed. The diet is the key.

Dietary-induced chronic inflammation produces an assortment of inflammatory chemicals capable of sensitizing the pain pathways. Moreover, if this sensitization of the pain pathways persists, adaptive responses by the brain cause the sensation of the pain to become exaggerated or inappropriate. The key to fixing this is to reduce the chronic inflammation.

The Pro-Inflammatory Diet

In this country, most people eat a “pro-inflammatory” diet.  That is, they consume food that consistently feeds the inflammatory cascade in the body, leading to chronic inflammation.  As previously pointed out, chronic inflammation leads to tissue destruction and many disease states.  In order to fully understand why our diets lead to this state, we must understand the basics of fatty acids.

Fatty acids are individual molecules that make up triglycerides in our body.  Triglycerides are the storage form of fat that humans use for energy.  In human physiology there are three important fatty acids.  There are omega-3 (n-3), omega-6 (n-6) and omega-9 (n-9) fatty acids.  Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential in the human diet.  This means that we must consume them in our diet in order to survive.  Omega-9 fatty acids are classified as non-essential because we are able to synthesize them from other unsaturated fats in our body.  It is the balance of these fatty acids that is critical for controlling and reducing inflammation in human physiology.

First, we must examine the role of fatty acids in our body when speaking about inflammation.  Fatty acids work to produce a variety of chemicals in the body called eicosanoids.  These chemicals are at the heart of the inflammatory cascade.  Some eicosanoids are beneficial while others can contribute to inflammation.  The harmful eicosanoids that contribute to the inflammatory cascade are related to an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid.  If arachidonic acid is incorporated into a specific eicosanoid then it becomes pro-inflammatory.  If it is not incorporated it becomes anti-inflammatory.  It is arachidonic acid that will fuel the inflammatory cascade, eventually resulting in the production of chemicals capable of sensitizing the pain pathways.

So, we must take a closer look at this specific fatty acid called arachidonic acid.  Arachidonic acid is found preformed in animal products, especially meat.  In addition, it is easily converted in the body from the fatty acids found in grains and vegetable oils like corn, safflower and sunflower oil.  Also, animals fed a steady diet of grain are exceptionally high in arachidonic acid.

Obviously, what we eat will determine our fatty acid profile and potentially contribute to chronic inflammation and pain.  One might think, based on the information given above, that becoming a vegetarian would significantly reduce one’s overall inflammatory load.  And it does make sense especially if we take into account that arachidonic acid is preformed in meat.  It has been shown, however, that the opposite is true.

The average American diet has unfortunately shifted to promote excessive production, storage and utilization of arachidonic acid.  This leads to the over-production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids.  Research has shown that man evolved with a ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids of about 1:1.  Today, the average ratio in the diet is anywhere from 10:1 to 20-25:1.  This is disadvantageous because we know that omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and have a wealth of other health benefits.  Plainly put, our diets have shifted to favor inflammation.

As mentioned earlier, it would seem that vegetarian diets would be most beneficial in creating an anti-inflammatory state because animal products are high in preformed arachidonic acid.  This hypothesis, however, has not held up in clinical studies.  It has been shown that vegetarians, in fact, have a higher plasma level of arachidonic acid and an essentially equal level of arachidonic acid found in red blood cells when compared to meat eaters.  The study also showed that vegetarians have lower levels of the protective and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA. This suggests that  vegetarian diets shift people closer to an inflammatory state than they probably desire.

A diet high in fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins and fats it ideal for stopping and preventing chronic inflammation.  This type of diet will invariably be low glycemic.  The glycemic index refers to the effect on blood sugar that a particular food will have.  A food that has a low glycemic index (GI) will raise blood sugar much more slowly than a food with a high GI.  Foods with a low GI are much more beneficial for controlling inflammation because low glycemic foods cause a much smaller response from the hormone insulin.  Insulin is the hormone that’s required for most of the cells in our body to use and store sugar for energy.  Insulin, which is secreted from the pancreas, actually stimulates an enzyme that converts omega-6s into the dreaded arachidonic acid.  So a diet that is high glycemic will cause one’s body to over secrete insulin and further drive the inflammatory cascade.

So a diet high in fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy fat will lead to lower inflammation and greater pain control, but are there are other things you can add into your diet to help? As it turns out, there are. Certain spices have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric, ginger, garlic and black pepper all have the potential to reduce inflammation when consumed in the diet. There are many other spices that have anti-inflammatory properties so go ahead, spice up your food! Your body may thank you for it.

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4 Unconventional Things You Didn’t Know Were Making You Fat

The human body is a strange and wondrous place. There are many reasons why a person might gain weight. Eating the wrong kind of food, the wrong amount of food, or not enough exercise are well established reasons. However, there are some no-so-common reasons that might play a role as well.

Road Traffic Noise

Exposure to a combination of road traffic, rail, and aircraft noise may pose the greatest risk of acquiring a spare tire — otherwise known as central obesity, and thought to be one of the most harmful types of fat deposition around the body. In a recent study researchers assessed how much road traffic, rail, and aircraft noise 5075 people living in five suburban and rural areas around Stockholm, Sweden, had been exposed to since 1999. The analysis indicated no link between road traffic noise and BMI. But there was an association between road traffic noise and waist size, with a 0.21 cm increase for every additional 5 dB increase in exposure, although this was only significant among women. Similarly, there was a link to waist:hip ratio, with a change of 0.16 for every 5 dB increase in noise exposure to road traffic; this association was stronger in men.

What gives? Noise exposure may be an important physiological stressor and bump up the production of the hormone cortisol, high levels of which are thought to have a role in fat deposition around the middle of the body, researchers suggest. Additionally, noise exposure might disrupt sleep, another known factor to contribute to weight gain.

Too Many Food Choices

A new study in mice by researchers in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine has shown that the environment in which a child lives may be an equal if not stronger force in determining obesity than their mother’s diet. Researchers found that having too many food choices increases the obesity problem. In fact, researchers found that having a choice of a high-fat and low-fat diet does not help — offspring in this situation tended to eat even more. Their findings were recently released in the journal Endocrinology. “We like variety,” said Deborah Good, an author of the paper and an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech. “But when there is a choice, we eat more than when there is not any variety.” Moral of the story? Simple is better for our waistlines.

The Inability To Stay Warm

A new study suggests that a biological inability to create sufficient core body heat could be linked to the obesity epidemic. The study found that obesity is associated with a significant reduction of body core temperature during daytime hours. Journal Editor Francesco Portaluppi explains that the reduced ability of obese people to spend energy as heat compared to lean individuals could result in long term weight gain (about 2 kg (4.5 lb.)) per year, depending on the lifestyle. “Since body core temperature represents a marker of energy expenditure, results from this study suggest that a diurnal thermogenic handicap can play a crucial role in favoring weight gain in obese subjects,” said article co-author Pietro Cortelli, MD, Ph.D. The fix? Generate more body heat. And how does one do that? Exercise of course!

Environmental Pollution

A team of Spanish scientists, which includes several researchers from the University of Granada, has confirmed that there is a relation between the levels of certain environmental pollutants that a person accumulates in his or her body and their level of obesity. Subjects with more pollutants in their bodies tend to have higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The research has analyzed the levels of pollutants accumulated in adipose tissue (fat) in nearly 300 men and women, who were attended in the surgery services of two hospitals in the province of Granada (Spain). The substances analyzed, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), can remain in the environment for years, even decades, without degrading.

“Humans are exposed to POPs mainly through diet. Besides, POPs accumulate gradually in body fat, and this is the reason why the median levels in our study give us an idea of an individual’s accumulated exposition over a number of years,” says Juan Pedro Arrebola, the main author of the article. There is evidence that human exposure to certain chemical substances called “obesogenic” could favor the growth and proliferation of adipocytes (fat cells), and provoke therefore an increase in body fat.

Do your best to avoid exposing yourself unnecessarily to chemicals that might be problematic. Perhaps the most powerful way to do this is avoid processed food which is loaded with these chemicals from their own packaging.

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Recommendation for vitamin D intake was miscalculated, is far too low, experts say

Researchers at UC San Diego and Creighton University have challenged the intake of vitamin D recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Institute of Medicine (IOM), stating that their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D underestimates the need by a factor of ten.

In a letter published last week in the journal Nutrients the scientists confirmed a calculation error noted by other investigators, by using a data set from a different population. Dr. Cedric F. Garland, Dr.P.H., adjunct professor at UC San Diego’s Department of Family Medicine and Public Health said his group was able to confirm findings published by Dr. Paul Veugelers from the University of Alberta School of Public Health that were reported last October in the same journal.

“Both these studies suggest that the IOM underestimated the requirement substantially,” said Garland. “The error has broad implications for public health regarding disease prevention and achieving the stated goal of ensuring that the whole population has enough vitamin D to maintain bone health.”

The recommended intake of vitamin D specified by the IOM is 600 IU/day through age 70 years, and 800 IU/day for older ages. “Calculations by us and other researchers have shown that these doses are only about one-tenth those needed to cut incidence of diseases related to vitamin D deficiency,” Garland explained.

Robert Heaney, M.D., of Creighton University wrote: “We call for the NAS-IOM and all public health authorities concerned with transmitting accurate nutritional information to the public to designate, as the RDA, a value of approximately 7,000 IU/day from all sources.”

“This intake is well below the upper level intake specified by IOM as safe for teens and adults, 10,000 IU/day,” Garland said. Other authors were C. Baggerly and C. French, of GrassrootsHealth, a voluntary organization in San Diego CA, and E.D. Gorham, Ph.D., of UC San Diego.

via Recommendation for vitamin D intake was miscalculated, is far too low, experts say — ScienceDaily.

Dr. Court’s Commentary – 

I’ve been recommending anywhere from 4,000-6,000IU/day of vitamin D (supplementally) to my patients for many years. This is consistent with the above recommendations that people get about 7,000IU/day from all sources. Vitamin D deficiency is a culprit in many diseases of aging, and the IOM’s recommendations were far too low. It’s good to see this becoming more well recognized.

Only one study has been done (that I can find) that actually measured how much vitamin D human beings use on a daily basis. The conclusion of that study was that humans use about 4,000-6,000IU per day (hence my recommendation). In that context, the IOM’s recommendation of 600-800IU/day becomes even more startling.

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A new take on artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are supposed to be good for you. Go ahead, ask your doctor or a dietitian. They’ll tell you they are a great way to get your sweet fix without any consequences. When compared to full sugar soda they’re supposed lower your caloric intake, they reduce your risk of being overweight, they reduce your risk of diabetes, they reduce your risk of heart disease and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, that’s not what the recent research is showing.

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners are among the most widely used food additives worldwide, regularly consumed by lean and obese individuals alike. They were introduced over a century ago as means for providing sweet taste to foods without the associated high energy content of caloric sugars, yet supporting scientific data on safety and efficacy remain sparse and controversial. While some data has shown they boost blood sugar very little, other evidence has linked them to type 2 diabetes and weight gain. These are the conditions they were created to prevent. The question then is how do artificial sweeteners create physiologic change capable of making us unhealthy? A new study is providing some input.

Most artificial sweeteners pass through the human gastrointestinal tract without being digested by the person consuming them, thus directly encountering the intestinal microbiota (bacteria), which plays central roles in regulating multiple physiological processes. These artificial sweeteners alter the balance of the bacteria present in our gastrointestinal tract, thus adversely affecting many of these important processes.

This new study titled Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance by Altering the Gut Microbiota, has demonstrated that consumption of commonly used artificial sweeteners drives the development of glucose intolerance (high blood sugar) through changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota. Further, the use of antibiotics eliminates these effects. This confirms the bacteria play a central role in the metabolic changes. Now, I’m not saying we should all be on antibiotics. This study used antibiotics to confirm the theory that artificial sweeteners adversely affects physiology through changes in the intestinal microbiome. This is not a viable option in real life as this can have severe consequences long term.

The exact mechanism through which these adverse physiologic changes occur is not completely understood, but it appears to be related to a change in the composition certain types of bacteria. It creates a problem known as dysbiosis (unbalanced growth of bacteria). This dysbiosis results in the same bacterial profile known to be associated with diabetes, obesity, and over-extraction of calories from food.

So, artificial sweeteners create the same problem they are intended to prevent? Yes. So what do you drink, you say? Water. Water is the perfect hydrating liquid. If you are very physically active, a rehydrating drink with electrolytes and some carbohydrate replacement is fine during an intense workout. If you want to have something sweet, have a real soda. But do it only VERY infrequently!

Want to know more? Sign up for our FREE WEBINAR called “Chronic Disease Hates Your Guts!” November 11th at 7PM. We’ll discuss the importance of a healthy gastrointestinal systems as it relates to the most common complaints in medical practice. You don’t want to miss this!

Register here: 

http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EB50D98687463D

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