Health-E-News. September 2008
empowering you to optimal health
Foods That Fight Inflammation
Reprinted from To Your Health, August, 2008. By David Seaman, DC, MS, DABCN
In recent years, researchers have come to appreciate that our diet can substantially influence the inflammatory state within our body. This view of inflammation is different than the standard view that characterizes inflammation as a response to injury, such as a sprained ankle, which then heals naturally and the inflammation goes away.
The new view of inflammation, developed over the past 10 years, is that it is a generalized state within the circulatory and immune system perpetuated by poor diet. The outcome of this is the dietary promotion of arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and most other chronic diseases. We should call this "dietary trauma," as it leads to the development of biochemical changes similar to physical injury. The difference is that, for most people, dietary trauma occurs every time they eat, three or more times each day, every day.
In most cases, the outcome of dietary trauma is not noticed for years. It takes years to develop arthritis and other chronic diseases, so we don't usually associate a poor diet with disease expression. This allows us to easily deny such an association between diet, inflammation and disease. Thus, developing an awareness or mindfulness about eating is very important to help influence a behavioral change in our eating habits.
Foods That Promote Inflammation
Refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar, sweeteners and flour produce inflammatory responses, as do refined oils and obese (fatty) meat. A surprise to many is that even whole grains and legumes (beans) can promote inflammation.
With the above in mind, consider that the average American consumes about 10 percent of calories from dairy products, 20 percent from refined sugar, 20 percent from refined grains, 20 percent from refined oils and 2 percent from alcohol. The biggest problems clearly are the sugar, grains and oils. Approximately another 20 percent of calories come from obese meat, which is the fatty meat from domestic animals that live a sedentary life in feedlots, where they are fed a tonnage of grains/corn instead of grass/pasture. The remaining 10 percent of calories might be fruits and vegetables.
Foods That Prevent Inflammation
Rather than listing all the foods and snacks that should be avoided, let's focus on the foods that reduce inflammation. Researchers recently characterized a diet that offers preventive benefits for heart disease, called the "polymeal," which is consistent with the PaleoDiet, the traditional low-starch Mediterranean diet and the anti-inflammatory diet.
A reasonable recommendation is for 80 percent to 100 percent of our calories to come from vegetables, fruit, raw nuts, potatoes, and either lean or omega-3 protein sources including fish, lean meat, skinless chicken, wild game, grass-fed animals and omega-3 eggs. Spices such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, oregano and the other popular spices are all anti-inflammatory. The best oils/fats to use in moderation are extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and butter.
Our focus should be on correcting the 80 percent of calories that come from sugar, refined grains, oils and obese meat. Worrying about yogurt, the occasional bran muffin, a cup of coffee, etc., has little influence compared to the tsunami of inflammation created by the 80 percent of calories derived from inflammatory foods.
Another key to reducing dietary trauma and inflammation is to eat appropriate amounts for your body. In general, overeating leads to an inflammatory response.
Avoid Dietary Extremism
If you currently snack on bags of inflammation and regularly do "drive-through self-shootings" at fast-food restaurants, you likely will view a life of eating anti-inflammatory foods as somewhat extreme. In actuality, the anti-inflammatory foods described above are not extreme at all and are completely consistent with our biochemical and physiological needs.
If you're eating 80 percent or more of your calories from sugar, flour/grains, refined oils and obese meat, you're a dietary extremist. For many, the mere thought of giving up bread and pasta is too much to bear.
On the other hand, assuming 85 percent to 90 percent of your calories are anti-inflammatory, have fun with the remaining 10 percent to 15 percent of calories borne of foods from the dark side. Don't become an anti-inflammatory diet extremist and make eating healthy a stressful event.
The lowdown on Omega-3 oils
Omega-3 oils are good for you. They are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in many fish and some types of plants. Some sources (fish and breast milk) also contain DHA, a fatty acid necessary for brain function. Here are some of the many benefits of Omega-3 oils and how you can get them.
- Heart health: fatty acids lower bad cholesterol and reduce clotting.
- Arthritis: fish oil calms inflammation to relieve tender joints.
- Brain and nerve function: DHA is essential for normal nerves- ADD, depression and moods can be helped.
- Alzheimer's: good fats and DHA can fight these brain changes.
- Diabetes: fatty acids reduce insulin resistance to reduce the risk of diabetes.
Omega-3 food sources:
Marine oils (preferred):
- All kinds of fish, canned, frozen, smoked and pickled. Grilled salmon (Chinook or Sockeye), halibut and snapper are the best sources.
- Seafood, including prawns, mussels, oysters, crab, calamari.
- Enriched eggs.
- Quality oil supplements - ask us which we recommend.
- Linseed oil including fresh linseed bread
- Soya nuts
- Canola oil
- Mustard seed
8 Easy Stress Reducers
If you're running around all day trying to fulfill a seemingly endless list of responsibilities, you could be on the verge of a stress-induced breakdown. Before that happens, take five minutes out of your busy schedule for one (or more) of these quick de-stressors:
- Laugh a little. Studies suggest laughter lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Of course, it doesn't take an understanding of biochemistry to appreciate that when you're laughing, stress has to take a back seat, at least temporarily.
- Lighten up. When the body absorbs sunlight, it enhances the effect of mood-stabilizing chemicals such as serotonin. So enjoy lunch out in the sunshine or walk a few blocks during your afternoon break.
- Go on a (virtual) vacation. Picture yourself on a tropical island or a serene, majestic mountaintop - wherever you'd rather be instead of here, stressing out. It will give you a few minutes to unwind and relax instead of focusing on work.
- Get moving. Exercise, even something as simple as jumping rope for a few minutes, triggers your body to release mood-lifting endorphins. The repetitive motion required of most simple exercises also makes you relaxed and focused.
- Turn up the volume. Go ahead and rock out to the music from your teens. You might even be inspired to dance around the living room.
- Take a breath. Sometimes, just breathing deeply can help center and relax you. Try it the next time you're stuck in traffic or your boss needs that report done 'right away.'
- Find a friend. Even if it's only for a few minutes, call or e-mail a friend and blow off a bit of steam. Isn't that what friends are for?
- Stay cool. Find a nice, light scent (lavender is always a good choice) to lightly spritz on your face when the heat is on. It will not only cool you down, but also calm your nerves.
- Get adjusted. Keeping your nerve system working at 100% keeps everything relaxed and working properly, allowing you to relax even faster. Chiropractors often hear 'I could have a nap after that adjustment' since adjustments 'release' stress within your body.
Backpacks: Pack it light, wear it right!
So how do you choose the right backpack? A backpack rather than a bag with handles is the way to go. Studies have shown that bags, either hand held or worn over one shoulder, can cause back and neck pain as well as aggravate spinal disorders such as scoliosis.
Here is a list of things to look for in a backpack:
- The right size. The bottom of it should hang no more than 10cm below the waist - this prevents forward leaning.
- Lightweight. Fully packed it shouldn't weigh more than 10% of the body weight of the person wearing it.
- Quality. A moulded frame and an adjustable waist strap means most of the weight rests on the hips and not on the shoulders or spine.
- Pockets. Different sections help with even weight distribution and organization inside. When loading the bag, put heavy items as close as possible to the back to reduce spinal stress.
Ask us which ones we recommend.
If you're unsure about the fitting of your backpack, ask us and we'll check it for you! Click here for more information.
Chiropractic May Correct Infertility
A new case study provides additional evidence that chiropractic care may correct infertility.
According to the report, "a 23 year old female presented for chiropractic care to improve her overall health, in the hope that she may ultimately be able to have a child. At the time of the physical exam there was a six week history of numbness and tingling in her left foot, and within a month the temporary bouts of numbness included both of her legs and feet. The patient was referred to a neurologist for consultation."
"Examination protocols of Diversified Technique were utilized to detect and adjust vertebral subluxations for the first 2.5 months of care and Toggle/Webster Technique protocols were used exclusively thereafter. Visits included thermography as an instrumentation procedure. The patient had her first natural menstrual cycle 3.5 months into care and discovered she was pregnant 4.5 months after initiation of chiropractic care. Ultrasound confirmed the pregnancy shortly after."
"Marked resolution of the patient's signs and symptoms was obtained concomitant with a reduction in subluxation findings at multiple levels. Further research is called for to evaluate the safety, cost, and effectiveness of chiropractic care in women's health."
JVSR - August 6, 2008:1-6