Top Inflammation Expert Reveals How To Improve Quality Of Life and Decrease Likelihood of Early Death

 

Inflammation and Disease:

Multiple studies in the medical literature indicate that inflammation may play a role in many of the diseases that plague our civilization and lead to early disability and death. Not only can inflammation accelerate the aging process, It can contribute to obesity and high blood pressure which increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. Inflammation can increase the risk of multiple other diseases as well:

  • Several studies indicate that increased levels of inflammation in the body can increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
  • Inflammation can increase the risk or aggravate bowel conditions such as irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
  • Painful arthritic conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis have been linked to inflammation.
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis have a strong inflammatory component.

What Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Inflammation?

The good news is that what we eat, our diet can have a significant effect on many of these diseases. In many of these diseases, the signs and symptoms can be dramatically reduced or even eliminated by changes that we are in control of. This is because certain foods such as chicken, eggs, red meat, and dairy products among others have components that promote inflammation. Reduction or elimination of these can decrease the overall levels of inflammation throughout the body.

Replacing these foods with other foods that decrease inflammation can also further decrease the levels of inflammatory reactions in our bodies. Some examples of this can be seen in research that indicates antioxidant-rich diets seem to offer some protection against stroke by reducing the amount of oxidized fats circulating in our bloodstream. These oxidized fats can damage the sensitive endothelium, cells that line the walls of small blood vessels. The antioxidants can also help the body prevent blood clots from forming, lower blood pressure, and decrease the stiffness of artery walls.

Some examples of dietary changes helping with diseases caused by inflammation include the beneficial reduction in the frequency and severity of the gout attacks by eating tart cherries. It is not only people who suffer from gout that can benefit from the cherries, however. Even asymptomatic people who eat tart cherries have a reduction in their overall inflammatory levels. Evidence of this can be seen in the reduction of C-reactive protein levels circulating in the blood.

What are some diseases affected by inflammation?

Other seemingly unrelated diseases such as COPD, emphysema, and bronchitis, and asthma may improve along with lung function in people who eat higher levels of vegetables every day. Some vegetables are more effective than others. For instance, baked, boiled, or mashed white potatoes actually promote inflammation.  When these potatoes are eaten in the form of french fries or fried potato chips, they significantly increase the levels of inflammation throughout the body.  Iceberg lettuce is probably neutral, neither helping or hurting the levels of inflammation in the body. However, green leafy vegetables such as kale and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower have high levels of antioxidants that reduce inflammation. Fruits such as berries also have high levels of antioxidants. Bananas, however, have low levels of antioxidants.

Even our mental health can be affected by the foods we eat. The risk of depression is increased in individuals who have a diet high in pro-inflammatory foods. Conversely, some studies show a reduction in the symptoms of depression by decreasing the number of inflammatory foods in the diet. One of the suspected causes of this phenomenon is arachidonic acid.   Some studies even indicate that people with high levels of arachidonic acid in their blood are at significantly higher risk of suicide and major depression.  The main sources of this compound in the American diet are chicken and eggs. However,  beef, pork, and fish also are strong contributors to the amount of arachidonic acid in our diet.

The Standard American Diet

It appears that eating a standard American diet is putting most of us at risk of having a shorter and lower quality of life with more depression and chronic disease then we have to have. Some scientific studies have shown that individuals eating the standard American diet take in about nine times more arachidonic acid than those consuming a plant-based diet. The good news is that a plant-based diet can significantly and dramatically reduce the amount of inflammation and arachidonic acid in our bodies.

At Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic our mission is to reduce the pain and suffering of our patients while at the same time improving the quality of their lives. While this often requires medication, interventional pain management, or neurosurgery; we also are strong proponents of prevention and lifestyle changes that can help reach this goal.

Top Inflammation Expert, Michael Greger, MD Reveals the Current Research

Much more information regarding how changes in diet and the food choices we make can affect the quality and quantity of life we enjoy can be found at Nutritionfacts.org.   This is a site founded by Michael Greger, MD.   Dr. Greger has devoted his career to scouring all of the most recent medical research in the field of nutrition printed in the English language. He is the author of the NY Times bestseller How Not to Die. On this website, there are dozens of videos reviewing the most recent medical research about changes you can make to both prevent and improve chronic disease common in the Western world. Some of the diseases that Dr. Greger addresses chronic low back pain, coronary heart disease, COPD, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes type II, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, cancer and many others.

Why is this advice not common?

Unfortunately, markedly decreasing or eliminating foods such as chicken, red meat, eggs, and dairy products from the diet is rarely recommended even though the current research strongly supports the fact that such changes can significantly increase health and longevity. One of the main reasons that this is not recommended by most doctors is that they do not believe that their patients are either willing or able to make such change.

Are doctors human too?

Another reason is that most physicians are unwilling to make such changes in their own lives. Yes, it is true. Doctors are human too and have biases as well as cognitive dissonance in their own lives.  If this were not the case, there should be not fat doctors and doctors should live longer than any other group on the planet. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. Often there is a disconnect between eviden, knowledge, and action.  This is a similar situation to what occurred with cigarette smoking in the 1950s and 1960s. Even with overwhelming evidence regarding the dangers of smoking, it was very difficult for a  physician to be a strong proponent of smoking cessation when they themselves smoked. Likewise, it is unlikely that a doctor who eats a diet high in meat, eggs, and dairy products is going to be a strong proponent of a plant-based diet, even if the research supporting such a diet is very strong.

The choice is yours.

The purpose of presenting this information is to simply give our patients the best information available to improve their health and longevity. As with advice to stop smoking and reduce the amount of saturated fat in the diet; some people will embrace this advice and others will choose to ignore it because of the temporary enjoyment brought about by smoking and eating foods high in fat and calories. Some will find the motivation to make small steps in the direction of improved health over time. These of course are personal choices. However, full informed consent in making choices should involve both knowing the benefits of making the choices as well as the potential risks and consequences of those choices.

 

 

 

Sources:

Nutritionfacts.org: Inflammation

 

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