Archive for Inflammation
Last week I gave you all some links sent to me by the NIH to help women come to terms with the possibility of heart disease. What is it you need to know about to determine if you need to be worried?
Here are some of the basics.
1. What is your blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol? These 3 things are the early warning signs of potential harm to your heart and blood vessels.
An elevated blood pressure occurs for a variety of reasons but basically the blood vessels are too narrow and the heart has to work harder as a pump to get the blood to flow through and make it to the organs. The heart over time can enlarge, and not work as effectively.
An elevated glucose causes problems with the walls of the blood vessels, making them less healthy, inflamed and eventually not effective as conduits for the blood flowing through.
Elevated bad forms of cholesterol can infiltrate into the lining of the blood vessels, causing blockages. These can eventually rupture, causing a complete blockage. When this happens in the brain, it is a stroke; in the coronary blood vessels it is a heart attack.
2. What are your genetics for heart disease? In other words, have many family members had early heart attacks and strokes?
Having a strong family history of heart disease indicates there is a tendency to inflammation in your blood vessels that contributes to poor health of arteries. This genetic predisposition may include diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure.
Having a family history does not mean you are fated to have an MI or stroke, but it does mean you need to be very careful what you do in terms of lifestyle and habits. You can avoid the fate of your genes with careful living.
3. What are your health habits? Yes, yes; this is what we medical people preach about day in and day out!
It is the one most important modifiable action you can take however, which is why we stress healthy habits so much. You have the power to change the fate of your genes!
Exercise helps the heart get a good work out, it exercises the muscle and gets the blood flowing all over your body. It uses up the excess calories you may have eaten. It lowers cortisol levels that are elevated in most of us due to the stress of our lives. This lower cortisol following exercise causes the muscle layer around the outside of the blood vessel to relax a little, making the tube a little wider and easing the heart from having to pump so hard. The idea is for your heart to work hard during exercise, and not all the time. Additionally, exercise helps your liver make more of the good cholesterol which then helps the body get rid of the bad cholesterol.
A healthy diet low in animal fats, trans fats, and saturated fats that come from fried foods, packaged and processed baked foods; helps to keep cholesterol lower and inflammation in the blood vessels lower. Then the cholesterol flowing through your blood stream doesn’t have as much inflammation to latch onto, creating a plaque or potential blockage.
Lowering sugar in the diet also helps reduce inflammation, avoid diabetes with its’ destructive actions; and helps with weight.
Sodium is a major contributor to high blood vessel for many people through retention of fluid and tightening to the blood vessel walls, making them more narrow.
Maintaining a health weight reduces the amount of blood vessels your heart has to pump blood too, as fat needs blood vessels also. There is less mileage that the heart has to pump blood through. The actions that it takes to maintain a healthy weight also helps the heart, and is described above.
Do you smoke cigarettes or use nicotine products? Nicotine contributes to heart disease mostly through the inflammation and disease to blood vessel walls. Nicotine also contributes to tightening of the blood vessels, making them more narrow. The inflammation and narrowing then helps cholesterol do its’ bad thing with blockages.
Do you get enough good quality sleep? Hey, everything has to rest! Sleep helps aid in repair of the body, lowering of inflammation, mobilizing excess fluid.
OK, quick tips:
- Instead of frying foods, saute in a little olive oil or other healthy oil
- Add very little salt to food, use other seasons like pepper and herbs, spices
- Get out and move every day, figure out a way this will work for you
- Get a good nights sleep, work on sleep habits to aid this occuring
- ditch the sodium, nicotine products, fast foods, fried foods, fatty meats. Make them a rare occurrence
- decrease sugar, white starches like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice; as they basically act like a big dose of sugar in the body
- limit alcohol and caffeine products to a healthy consumption
- have your glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure monitored regularly and talk to your provider about what to do to reduce them if they are elevated.
Think about it, the only rest your heart gets is between each beat. Not to scare you, but that muscle keeps going, all the time. Why would you not be kind to it, protect it, pay attention to it?
Gluten free diets are very popular, and gluten free products seem to be overtaking the shelves in many supermarkets. Gluten free products are a staple for those that have celiac disease, but can they benefit those of us who do not?
The sense that you may be allergic to wheat may increase as you get older. Lots of people are adopting a gluten free diet to cure all that ails them, including joint pain, allergies, heartburn to name a few. You may be wondering what an allergy to wheat, something that goes into the mouth and gut; has to do with migraines or arthritis.
It is all about inflammation. There is true gluten sensitive enteropathy, or celiac disease. These are the people that will have horrible diarrhea, lose weight to the point of malnourishment; if they eat wheat or gluten containing products. It is often inherited, or prominent in certain ethnic groups including those of Anglo Saxon (Scotland, Ireland, England) descent.
There is also gluten sensitivity, which may becoming more prominent. The increase in Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is felt by some scientists, to be due to the increase in use of antibacterial products. This can impair the immune system of the developing gut leading to altered function and perhaps other food allergies. Other scientists are speculating the increase of gluten allergies and gluten sensitivities may be due to the strain of wheat that is currently grown today.
A slightly different strain of wheat was developed in the 1940-50′s to increase crop resilience. There is a protein in this hybrid wheat product that some of us may not be fully able to breakdown, thus giving increase in gastrointestinal complaints.
There is no mistaking that aging can bring on weight gain and a sense that you are no longer metabolizing food as you once did. There is also an increase in many ailments as we age, most likely attributed in large part to wearing out of body parts and systems. Whether or not you feel that some of your ailments may be due to a wheat allergy, or celiac sensitivity; cutting out gluten from your diet may cause you to lose weight. As a result, many other ailments may improve.
This reduction of gluten consumption and improvement of well being may be due to less inflammation from gluten sensitivity. Or it may be a result of less caloric intake. It is important to keep in mind that many important vitamins are in wheat products, and you will want to be sure to get these vitamins in other foods. It is also important to avoid gluten free products that mimic their gluten containing counterparts. If you have true Celiac disease, you will want to use some of these products as most likely you are not battling being overweight also. However, gluten free starches tend to be made from refined carbohydrates and can be high in calories.
So how do you decide to go gluten free or not? Chances are if you have true gluten allergy, you would have been diagnosed by menopause or the later years, as the diarrhea and malnutrition of Celiac disease is profound. But a gluten sensitivity is less obvious and can be easily diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or constipation.
A relative gluten free trial for a few weeks may be easy enough. This would involve eating whole grains, no wheat products, rye or barley. You would want to do the following:
- No bottled or canned sauces or dressings, make your own.
- No desserts using flour, crusts, thickeners.
- No beer or brown alcohol; wine is probably ok.
- No packaged breads, pastries, cereals, cookies.
- You can have fruits and vegetables, any and all.
- Meats and seafood as well as poultry are safe but watch the fat and cholesterol content!
- Anything you make from vinegar and oils as far as dressings is recommended.
- Sugar is ok but it won’t help you lose weight if that is what you want.
In considering this way of eating, it is pretty much like to South Beach diet, Mediterranean diet and numerous other diets that help fight diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and obesity. It’s success is probably due to low sugar and low processed carbohydrate consumption resulting in weight loss.
Whether a gluten free diet will cure arthritis, migraines, allergies and asthma, and numerous other inflammatory based diseases remains to be proven.
But it can’t hurt to try as long as your diet is balanced with protein, healthy fats and high fiber whole grains.
Menopause can present many health issues for women aside from the actual symptoms of menopause. If you are predisposed to inherited diseases, hint: look at your relatives; menopause is a time when these illnesses and diseases may become active.
Not only is this distressing, but it adds to the feeling that your body is changing and is not functioning as it once did. You are probably wondering what the heck you can do about this.
One key to the mystery of what is happening to your body is inflammation. When the body is under stress, it pumps out stress hormones. Menopause is stressful on the body because of fluctuating estrogen and progesterone, both of which our female bodies have been accustomed to having at fairly regular levels. When production of these hormones changes and declines, the body has to adjust. These stress hormones, cortisol is the main one, are the hormones that can cause inflammation in your body. You can’t see it or feel it until it is starting to cause diseases to be expressed. Diseases like arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease to name a few of the more serious ones. And if you have migraines, they may get better if you are lucky; due to the lack of fluctuating hormone levels.
The inflammation of menopause, coupled with active migraines, can be tricky and may require you discuss your medication regimen with your medical provider. The presence of inflammation and having regular migraines can place you at increased risk for blood clots, and taking migraine medication can also increase your risk of a cardiovascular event such has a heart attack. As this article illustrates, it is important for you to discuss your migraine medication with your provider in order to decrease your risk of a stroke or heart attack.
These tips to reduce inflammation in your system may be helpful for you to both feel better and improve your health; but also to better control of your health.
- Reduce irritants that you put in your mouth! These would include nicotine products, excessive alcohol, and large amounts of animal fats. Studies show that nicotine irritates and roughens the walls of the blood vessels, causing inflammation. Then, the excess cholesterol that you eat can better grab onto those roughened areas and start to cause plagues and blockage. Animal fats have been shown to cause this same blood vessel irritation.
- Reduce refined sugar and refined carbohydrates. This means reducing the obvious sweets such as cake, cookies and candy. It also means reducing and eliminating sugary drinks such as sodas, sweet tea, coffee drinks with sweeteners and whipped cream, sports drinks, and alcohol. All of these items contain sugar or sweetened corn syrup or high fructose syrup. This load of sugar causes insulin spikes to get this sugar load out of the blood stream, and the elevated sugar in the blood stream can also cause inflammation. And did you know that soda contains significant sodium? This is designed to make you remain thirsty and crave more soda; tricky huh?
- Increase the amount of exercise and movement that you do during the course of a day. This increased activity will reduce the stress hormones produces daily due to our busy and stressful lives, thus reducing inflammation in our system from these hormones.
- Get plenty of rest and sleep. Sleep is incredibly restorative to our bodies. Repair of damaged cells and tissues from all the inflammation occurs. Helpful hormones are produced to better regulate metabolism, hunger and satiety, and reduce blood pressure. All of this aids in a better functioning system. Just as you must turn your computer off to let it clean itself and reboot; our bodies need the same thing. Short changing sleep can lead to hypertension, weight gain, depression, and of course fatigue. This fatigue and depression can interfere with your ability to make good health decisions, thus contributing to the downward spiral of health.
- Key vitamins can also help with inflammation. These vitamins are all contained in food but supplements can also be taken. These will aid you but cannot be a replacement for an unhealthy life style. Some of the vitamins that have been shown to help reduce inflammation include: 1. Vitamin A which is found in milk, liver and some vegetables containing beta carotene. Depletion of this vitamin can cause inflammation in lungs and gastrointestinal tract, as well as skin. 2. Vitamin B6 is found in beef, turkey, fish and some vegetables. It is constantly being flushed from the body and therefore requires a daily intake. Low levels of Vitamin B6 can be associated with heart disease. 3. Vitamin C is an important anti-oxidant and is plentiful in citrus fruits and tomatoes. It is an anti-inflammatory and may help reduce inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein. 4. Vitamin D is found in meat, fish, dairy and can be produced within the body with enough exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many inflammatory illnesses and it is felt that the literature suggests correcting depletion may help with control and reduction of these illnesses. This includes bones, muscles and ligaments, brain, eye. 5. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that is felt to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system. Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds as well as some vegetables. 6. Vitamin K is found in broccoli, kale, spinach and asparagus. It helps with healthy blood function but has also been shown to lower inflammatory markers.
As you may be realizing as you read this, all of these vitamins can be consumed in the course of a healthy diet of food with the least amount of processing. This recent study highlights the benefit of a healthy diet. Supplements are helpful also but it is important to get enough, and also not too much; of these vitamins. You can cause harm with too much Vitamin A and Vitamin E; possible Vitamin C. Eating foods high in these items is the best way to auto regulate.
Reducing inflammation during menopause is not hard but does require a conscious effort at a healthy life style. The good news is that this life style change is exactly what will lead you into healthy later years. It can reduce your reliance on medication, and will help keep you active and independent, as well as productive as you go through menopause and beyond. Take control now with these changes!
It would seem incredible that one meal could cause a heart attack, but that actually could be the case! You may already grasp the concept that fatty foods can harm your health in addition to causing weight gain.
But did you know that a meal high in fat can potentiate coronary artery disease?
Researchers have long understood this and have done study after study to associate the two. A recent research project done at University of California at Davis has possibly shown the correlation between these two events. They took a group of volunteers with varying waist circumferences and triglyceride levels and measured their blood levels of a substance-triglyceride rich lipoprotein (TRGL) after these volunteers had consumed a high fat breakfast from a major fast food chain. They exposed lab created endothelial tissue to this TRGL and measured the inflammatory response. It is this inflammatory response that can cause and lead to heart disease and stroke. Not all of us have much systemic inflammation or high TRGL levels. The endothelial cells which had the highest inflammatory response also had an immune trigger which helped to cause this response. These factors were more plentiful in people with larger waist circumferences, and did not occur to the same degree in people with normal waist circumferences.
So what exactly does this mean to you?
If you are overweight or even normal weight, and your waist is disproportionately larger; then you are at risk for developing heart disease. You have systemic inflammation and difficulty with fat and glucose metabolism. This could lead to higher levels of triglycerides and TRGL. When the TRGL is flowing through your blood stream after consumption of a high fat fast food meal, it will attach to your blood vessel walls and trigger inflammation. The body then sends out white blood cells to deal with this inflammation and that is how atherosclerosis occurs.
When the atherosclerosis is in coronary arteries, that can lead to a heart attack.
When the atherosclerosis is in blood vessels leading to or contained in the brain, a stroke can occur.
When the atherosclerosis occurs in arteries leading to your kidneys, intestines or liver; these organs do not work well.
And when it occurs in the blood vessels supplying your legs, you can have pain with walking, ulcers or even loss of extremities.
So is the fast food meal really worth all that damage and illness?
What is Heart Disease?
The heart is a pump for blood. Blood carries the nutrients we need to our cells and hauls waste products away for elimination mainly through the liver and kidneys. The heart starts beating in our chest while we are in the uterus and if we live to age 75 our heart will beat about 2.7 BILLION times. It is tough and
resilient but it can be injured. Sometimes because of an accident, poisoning whether accidental or self-inflicted like too much alcohol, genetics and other reasons outside our control, it doesn’t beat that long or that well. The heart disease that killed over 430 thousand U.S. women in 2006 and continues to do so each year is not well understood.
Heart disease causes inflammation of the lining of the circulatory system. After a certain point that is poorly understood right now, the body begins to loose that battle and resorts to plan B. It uses small dense particles of cholesterol to shore up the inflamed weakened lining of the arteries. This is usually a slow process but it eventually closes some of those arteries. The inflammation itself causes other problems in other organs but none so insidious as in the arterial lining.
When the inflammation reaches a certain point, the body begins to calcify these cholesterol deposits. This creates hard plaques and circulation troubles. When plaques rupture inside arteries, clots cut off blood flow to brain, heart muscle, skeletal muscle as in peripheral vascular disease or intestines. This causes pain, sometimes death of some of the muscle and maybe death of the person.
What is a risk factor?
It is a measurable fact that taken together with your total risk factors, indicates the level of risk for a certain health problem. RISK FACTORS are not DISEASES. They do not predict you will have heart disease, they indicate a level of risk, a percentage chance that a disease, in this case heart disease, will occur.
What risk factors can I control?
Risk factors over which you have no control are:
- your sex
- your age
- your family history
- your own history of heart attack, stroke or TIA previously.
Risk factors you do control are:
- Use of tobacco products
- Your level of activity
- Your cholesterol particle size
- Your blood pressure
- Your weight
- Your control of your blood sugar
- Your Triglyceride level
- Your response to Stress
- Good Dental Health
What do we really know about preventing heart disease?
We know a lot about heart disease but our knowledge isn’t perfect. We like gadgets, operations, pills and the latest thing when the oldest thing really matters.
We know when we are fit, trim and eating a healthy diet we are less likely to have any disease. We are less likely to respond negatively to stress when we exercise regularly. What is it that we can do that will reduce our response to disease onset within our body?
Don’t eat too much, eat as much local food as possible and avoid processed food. Pay attention to your body and keep some records. Be aware of how much you eat and its affect on your energy, weight and thinking. Be proactive but not obsessive.
Have a large group of friends, read instead of watch TV and screen out the negative junk in movies, TV shows and the news. Get enough sleep. Your body is made to do work long and slow. Investigate various kinds of activity that mimic work if you don’t have land to work or activities that are fun. I favor for myself Nordic Walking, Swing dancing, the “Shovel Glove” workouts you can find on YouTube.com and some light weight lifting along with lifting my Grandfather’s Blacksmith Anvil I inherited. What are your favorites?
As far as eating and supplements go – grass fed beef has an omega 6 to 3 ratio of 4-1. This is similar to ideal in our own muscles. Grain fed beef have a ratio of 16 or 20 to 1. This is a cause of inflammation. I supplement with a krill oil capsule (500mg) daily to boost my omega 3 fatty acids which help brain, joints, reduce triglycerides, raise HDL cholesterol and help decrease inflammation. Put a live bacteria back into your gut with a probiotic supplement ( I use Jarrow products). I don’t take it daily but will share a bottle of 100 and we each take 3 at bedtime for a couple of weeks a couple of times a year. I take vitamin D3 made from sheep wool lanolin about 1000IU most days of the year since I am inside most days.
Don’t forget to laugh a lot and be a source of laughter.
I can’t say you should do these things. I do them because my research has indicated that they are beneficial. Talk to your doctor, chiropractor, naturopath etc… Consider their motivation for giving you great advice.
I hope you will come back, become a subscriber , leave comments and tell your friends about us. So, I have a motive. Some people want to tell you something and others just like to be right. What do you think mine is?
Tell me your thoughts. Ask me a question. What have I missed? Where do you think I am wrong? If you think it is the meat thing and want me to be a vegetarian like you I am for it. I just want the animal to eat them first and I will eat the animal.
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