There are three killer insults on the body: oxidation, autoimmunity and inflammation. We need some level of inflammation to stay healthy so tissue and wounds heal from infections and injuries, however, when the inflammatory response becomes chronic problems occur. Chronic inflammation is unseen by the eye and a silent killer that accelerates aging, prevents fat loss and increases risk of disease.
Many individuals suffer from the consequences of excess inflammation without even realizing it. Inflammation can be present as insomnia, pain, allergies, food sensitivities, migraines, skin rashes and more. The cause of every age-related degenerative disease has been linked to chronic inflammation including diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer.
Are pain meds and anti-inflammatory drugs the remedy? Actually, no. Pain meds are one of the most overprescribed drugs in the U.S. Misuse of prescription and OTC pain medication can lead to abuse, addiction, and come with an endless list of serious side effects.
There are hundreds of OTC pain relievers and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, including Motrin and Advil, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDS. Americans consume 15 tons of aspirin a day, 19 billion tablets per year. Although thought to be harmless, a single aspirin will be responsible for 1,500-2,000 deaths; be a leading cause of kidney disease; cause ulcers and toxic headaches. A study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found even low-dose aspirin (as low as 75mg daily and up to 325mg daily) increases the risk of GI bleeding. Regularly taking aspirin also increases risk of micro-bleeding in the brain by 70 percent. According to the American Journal of Medicine, approximately 107,000 individuals are hospitalized every year for NSAID-related GI complications, and at least 16,500 deaths occur.
The side effects from NSAIDs are: blurred vision, heartburn, confusion, dizziness and fatigue, constipation, kidney dysfunction, flu-like symptoms, GI bleeding, back pain, weight gain, rashes and hives, leaky gut syndrome, tinnitus, pale skin and nervousness.
Ibuprofen causes depletion of folic acid, melatonin, zinc and iron. Tylenol is the No. 1 cause of acute liver failure. Long-term use has been linked to high blood pressure and brain damage. If you take just one NSAID every four days, over your lifetime you will have nine times the normal risk for vital organ damage, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Reducing inflammation starts with determining the root cause of inflammation.
Many individuals are unaware that the following are PROflammatory:
• Wheat, grains, omega-6 vegetable oils, gluten, sugar, hydrogenated fats and trans fats.
• Processed foods and conventional animal protein.
• Eating foods your body’s sensitive to.
• Gum disease.
• High body fat levels.
• Chronic stress.
• Excessive exercise.
• Lack of essential fatty acids.
• Diabesity (diabetes and obesity).
• Existing heart condition.
• Candida and low-grade infections.
• Gut dysfunction.
• Toxic metal body burdens.
• Liver congestion.
• Disrupted microflora, which leads to leaky gut, intestinal permeability, low-grade endotoxemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver and systemic inflammation.
The good news is you can reduce inflammation with healthy lifestyle choices and habits starting with proper nutrition and optimizing digestion.
Solutions to manage pain, tame the flame and reduce inflammation
1. Stabilize insulin and blood sugar. This is achieved by eliminating processed, packaged, fast and junk frankenfoods. Eighty percent of the foods on supermarket shelves did not exist 100 years ago. Eat real food.
2. Heal the gut and correct digestive dysfunction. Gas, bloating and heartburn are signs of an inflamed digestive tract.
3. Rule our underlying infections such as H.pylori, yeast, fungus, Candida, C. difficile and parasites (all of which are more common than not).
4. Determine your food sensitivities, which increase inflammation. The most common offenders are wheat, gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners, corn, soy, and dairy. Even so-called healthy foods can be items your body is sensitive to and the source of hidden inflammation and distress for your body.
5. Eat a nutrient-dense, real food, anti-inflammatory diet that includes plenty of avocado, pastured butter and eggs, coconut and olive oil, wild salmon, fish and seafood, turmeric and ginger, raw apple cider vinegar, tons of leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables, cherries and berries.
6. Avoid items that encourage inflammation: sugar, vegetable oils, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, processed frankenfoods, soda, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, HFCS, artificial sweeteners, GMOs, conventional meat and dairy.
7. Optimize and balance the microbiota in the gut. The amount of bacteria and the diversity of bacteria in the gut is directly linked to your weight, risk of disease and overall health.
8. Exercise intelligently and move your body daily. Keep in mind that too much exercise and insufficient recovery increases inflammation.
9. Restful sleep. Make sure you’re getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep every night.
10. Consider aromatherapy and Epsom salt baths with 1/2 cup raw ACV and 1/2 cup baking soda.
11. Determine your personal vitamin and mineral needs and deficiencies through an integrative and functional Blood Chemistry Analysis. Test C-reactive protein (CRP) and fasting insulin. CRP is used as a marker of inflammation in the arteries. Fasting insulin is a test that screens for diabetes and heart disease, but it’s also a marker for inflammation.
12. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water and green tea.
13. Manage stressors and your perception to inevitable stressors.
14. Practice yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, acupuncture, hot and cold packs, hot and cold water body immersion, enjoy nature, even holding hands can result in amazing pain relief without any drugs.
15. Resolve underlying, often subconscious negative emotions.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of two books, is a nutritionist and fitness and fat loss expert with more than 25 years of experience. Visit Paula at www.PaulaOwens.com.