Doctor’s Tip: Chronic inflammation contributes to chronic diseases
Last week’s column was about Dr. Dean Ornish’s latest book “UnDo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases.” In it he makes the case that most chronic diseases we suffer from in Western societies are due to unhealthy lifestyle, and that the answer to preventing and reversing these diseases is summed up as “eat well, move more, stress less, love more” — rather than “personalized medicine” based on genetics. This and the next few columns will discuss underlying causes of all these chronic diseases. Today we’ll talk about inflammation.
Acute inflammation is necessary for healing when tissues are injured by factors such as bacteria, viruses, trauma, toxins, heat or cold. Signs of “good inflammation” are redness and increased warmth around the injured area, swelling and pain. Acute inflammation comes on quickly and resolves when healing is complete — usually a few to several days.
Chronic inflammation however is harmful, can go on for months to years, and contributes to many of the diseases Americans suffer and die from:
• atherosclerosis (hardening the arteries), the cause of heart attacks and strokes
• dementia, including Alzheimer’s
• rheumatoid and degenerative arthritis
• pre-diabetes and diabetes.
• many forms of cancer, including prostate, breast and colon.
Unfortunately, factors that cause inflammation are common in modern societies. Following are some of these factors (if you’re surprised by any of these, go to nutritionfacts.org, or read “Undo It”):
• sedentary lifestyle
• animal protein
• saturated fat present in animal products and in added oil including olive and coconut
• dietary cholesterol, which is found in all animal products including seafood
• added oil itself is inflammatory, apart from the saturated fat
• added sugar of any kind, including high fructose corn syrup
• refined carbs such as white flour
• chronic emotional stress including loneliness — which raise levels of damaging stress hormones
• dental and gum disease
• sleep apnea
The way to prevent chronic inflammation is to:
• get moderate exercise daily
• eat a plant-based, whole food diet with no salt, sugar or added oil
• get 7-8 hours of sound sleep a night
• manage stress through activities such as meditation, yoga, hiking
• love more — learn to forgive, join a group, get a dog or cat
Retired physician Greg Feinsinger, M.D., is author of new book “Enjoy Optimal Health, 98 Health Tips From a Family Doctor,” available on Amazon and in local bookstores. Profits go towards an endowment to the University of Colorado School of Medicine to add prevention and nutrition to the curriculum. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention, diabetes reversal, nutrition, and other health issues. Call 379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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