Welcome to Day 4 of the Whole 30 / Love 30!!
Today’s post is brought to us by Dr. Jeff Leighton, he is the mind and science behind all of SFH (Stonger Faster Healthier) products. Dr. Leighton applies science and medicine to the design, clinical testing, and commercialization of natural products that benefit wellness, fitness and treat established disease. This is SFH’s core competency and distinguishes them from other nutraceutical / nutrition companies that are based almost exclusively on marketing products with unsubstantiated claims. Dr. Leighton continues to educate on the why’s and how’s of the body and today he speaks about the topic of inflammation.
Inflammation is complex and multi-factorial. On one hand inflammation is critical for responding to acute infections and toxins from insect bites. That said, most forms of chronic inflammation are over reactive, destructive and contribute to sustaining or initiating a multitude of chronic disease conditions.
There are many causes of chronic inflammation. Exercise, chronic infections and certain foods we eat can all induce chronic inflammation.
In the case of exercise, it is possible to over do a good thing. It is possible to over exercise and accumulate inflammatory factors that have biochemical profiles essentially identical to chronic inflammation. These factors can degrade skeletal muscle and add to existing chronic inflammatory conditions.
Infections of a viral nature may lead to many chronic states of inflammation. Viral RNA integrates into our cells and can direct the synthesis of foreign proteins. These proteins are antigens (foreign proteins that induce an immune response). When these proteins insert into cell membranes our immune system becomes activated and establishes a chronic immune response that can last for a lifetime. This may be the primary cause of autoimmune diseases.
Food choices also induce or contribute to inflammation. Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory because they are largely converted in our bodies to leukotriene and thromboxane that are autacoids of inflammation. High glycemic sugars, alcohols, carbohydrate rich food and processed foods, in general, are digested too fast (absorbed too quickly) and cause large increases in plasma insulin. Insulin is an effective physiologic regulator of blood sugar. However, in most cases insulin is secreted in quantities that are in excess of need to control plasma sugar levels. Insulin overshoot is responsible for fat storage/obesity, insulin insensitivity and Type II diabetes and global inflammation via multiple biochemical mechanisms. As an example, Insulin drives glycosylation mechanisms (AGE products) and this sets up a state of chronic inflammation. These inflammatory factors, e.g. cytokines, induce pain and muscle wasting. For example the cytokine TNF-alpha accelerates muscle wasting and may induce a state of cachexia, which is a condition that prevents calories from being used for nourishment and energy.
The Pharmaceutical Industry has been attempting to develop DMARDs (disease modifying agent that will treat the root cause of inflammation and thereby blunt or reverse many chronic diseases. Despite an explosion of scientific data little of substance has happened in the last 30 years!! Why this is the case?
The pharmaceutical Industry focused on developing highly specific, very potent single site antagonists and inhibitors. The problem is that inflammation is multi-factorial and many signals, in particular cytokines and insulin work though many diverse pathways to induce inflammation. No single drug can treat effectively this myriad of biochemical signals simultaneously and this is a serious negative for drug therapy (past, present and future). The single best, general anti-inflammatory therapy is the natural product, aspirin! Steroids also offer symptom relief but with significant side effect potential.
Thus it is back to the future! Inflammation and all the diseases that it affects, including heart disease can be largely controlled by what we eat. The key is to know what not to eat. Certain types of foods should definitely be on the toxic food list. Others are questionable. That said there are many foods that can have therapeutic benefit. Food science/nutrition science is evolving. So much is written, so much advice is given and much of this advice is speculative and un-proven. Below we give you just the list of good to eat foods. We also give you list of foods to avoid. There are lots of foods in the middle ground. Eat the questionable foods but eat them in modest proportions until we know more. With this background, we suggest that food can be a first line medical therapy. In other words, food has therapeutic consequences!! “Bad” foods (to be defined) will contribute to and exacerbate all causes inflammation Good foods are multi-mechanistic and can be considered good therapies to prevent, or reduce inflammation independent of its initiating source. Omega 3 oils are a perfect example of a good food. Omega 3 fats at high doses are non-specific anti-inflammatories and work via multiple mechanisms, to reduce global inflammation and blunt chronic inflammatory disease.