Chronic Inflammation and Illness

May 15, 2016

Is chronic inflammation hurting your health?  How can chronic inflammation be treated?  Are there dietary and fitness recommendations? “Inflammation is the root of chronic illness,” said Dr. Mark Sherwood who co-authored “Quest for Wellness” with his wife Dr. Michelle Neil Sherwood. “If you examine top medical journals right now, you would see that most, or even all of them, discuss ‘chronic systemic inflammation.’  This type of inflammation is extremely detrimental to our health and well-being.”questforwellness

How is chronic inflammation widely observed? “You guessed it; with obesity, over-eating, and even over-exercising,” said Dr. Sherwood.  “The body is simply overwhelmed by inflammation and cannot keep up with the process. The problem in this population begins with insulin and blood glucose levels. The higher the chronic levels of insulin, the higher the inflammation.”

“People who are chronically inflamed will have elevated biomarkers in the following categories: C-reactive proteins, insulin, blood glucose, leptin, and tumor necrosis factor alpha,” adds Dr. Neil Sherwood.  “Additionally, other inflammatory markers which will be elevated include interleukin-6 and interleukin-18.”

“Many forms of arthritis are either caused by or aggravated by inflammation,” said Dr. Nathan Wei, Arthritis Treatment Center.  “While medications are usually required, there are many steps people can take to reduce the inflammatory burden. The first has to do with diet.”

“Chronic inflammation—not cholesterol—is the cause of heart disease,” says Dr. Carolyn Dean, ND, a medical doctor and stress management expert, author of “The Magnesium Miracle.”  “Chronic low-grade inflammation has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer, have the same root cause: inflammation.”

In a recent study published in the Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal, researchers concluded that inflammation inside arterial walls could explain why many people with normal or even ideal cholesterol levels suffer heart attacks or strokes, while others with very high cholesterol never develop heart disease.

“Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease and the decades-long attempt to treat this condition with statin drugs has failed, because the true cause is inflammation,” says Dr. Dean. “There are clear indications that inflammation explains why plaque builds up in the arteries in patients with atherosclerosis. Chronic inflammation also plays a direct role in diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and asthma.”

“These conclusions support the findings of an earlier breakthrough study entitled ‘Magnesium and the Inflammatory Response,’” says Dr. Dean. “This study shows that at the cellular level, magnesium reduces inflammation. In the animal model used, magnesium deficiency is created when an inflammatory condition is produced. Increasing magnesium intake decreases the inflammation.”

“With magnesium being actively required by 600–700 enzyme systems in the human body, internal functions that reduce inflammation with the help of magnesium are being newly discovered every year,” adds Dr. Dean.  “For example, magnesium has been found to be a natural calcium channel blocker, which is crucial because calcium in excess is one of the most pro-inflammatory substances in the body. This is why I recommend a 1:1 balance of calcium with magnesium, while also taking into account the amount of calcium people get in their daily diets.”

Dr. Nathan Wei

Dr. Nathan Wei

So what’s the best diet to reduce inflammation?  “Avoidance of foods high in saturated fats such as red meat, butter, etc. which aggravate inflammation is a key move that people can make,” says Dr. Wei.  “Conversely, increasing intake of anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh fish, brightly colored fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation as these foods contain potent anti-oxidants.”

“Inflammatory foods include sugars, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, fast foods, excess caffeine, and excess alcohol,” says Dr. Sherwood.  “Many times, other foods can be inflammatory as well: gluten, grains, dairy, soy, corn, and yeast.”

“Chronic, low-grade inflammation—sustained by excessive belly fat, a poor diet including processed foods and sugars, a magnesium deficiency (over 75 percent of Americans fail to meet their minimum daily requirement of magnesium), lack of exercise, smoking, and gum disease—may explain why lifestyle-related diseases have reached epidemic proportions in Western countries, while remaining relatively scarce in the developing world,” says Dr. Dean.  “Many studies acknowledge the value of magnesium in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome make knowing about this mineral vitally important.”

“The key to reducing inflammation is found in being in the ‘rested state’ more often,” says Dr. Sherwood.  “This applies both to being over-fed, being over-exercised, and even over-stimulated.”  “My wife and I routinely do periods of intermittent fasting. This consists of periods of 18 hours without food. We also limit our high intensity exercise sessions to no more than 2 to 3 times per week.  Yes, we exercise on other days; it is just not always highly intense.”

“Simply put, if we eat less often, select better foods, and exercise appropriately, chronic inflammation can become an afterthought,” says Dr. Sherwood.  “By doing these three things, our biomarkers will improve as will our overall health.”

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