Haims column: Inflammation is at the core of almost every chronic disease
A while back, I borrowed my wife’s car while mine was in the shop. Unfortunately for me, I was on the phone when I filled it up with gas and was not paying attention. When the tank was full, I placed the gas nozzle back in its holder, took a quick glance at the price, and got back in the car.
About two blocks away, I started thinking that the cost to fill the tank seamed a bit cheap for diesel fuel. When I opened my wallet to look at the receipt, my heart skipped a beat. Oops, regular gas in a diesel engine was not going to be good. Thoughts of killing my wife’s car and the associated repair costs caused panic to set in.
After pulling over to the side of the street, I sat for a few moments and thought. I wondered to myself, how much regular gas had I filled the tank with. Maybe, if there was more diesel in the tank than regular gas, it’d be OK and I wouldn’t have to tell my wife. Unfortunately for me, I had just filled ¾ of the tank with the wrong gas.
I wound up calling a mechanic shop nearby and was told that, while there was no guarantee, driving the car another ½ mile to the shop “might” not cause irreversible harm. By the time I got near the mechanic shop, I could tell that the car wasn’t running well. I was seeing the cause and affects of my error.
While I’m happy to share my misfortunes with you, and even give you a laugh at my expense, this article is not about me nor the fuel I mistakenly put in the car. Rather, it is about the poor fuel choices we put in our bodies and the havoc wreaked because of it.
If you have not been paying much attention to the news, or your doctor, poor food choices are killing us at an alarming rate. Dietary risks are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. — taking a back seat to No. 1 tobacco and No. 2 high body-mass. In fact, poor diet causes 1 of 5 deaths worldwide, according to the Institute for Health and Evaluation.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to hear a couple of today’s leading medical scientists speak in Aspen. Michael Callahan, MD — expert on regenerative medicine and gene-encoded therapeutics (GET) who spent eight years at FDA — and Atta Behfar MD, PhD — director of advanced heart failure, cardiac regeneration, and interventional cardiology at MAYO Clinic.
While each scientist specializes in various fields of research, one subject matter that resonated among them all was that unwanted, persistent and high levels of inflammation is exacerbating many chronic diseases.
Here are just a few health issues caused by inflammation:
• gut (inflammatory bowel disease, IBD)
• hyperglycemic blood levels (diabetes)
• joints (rheumatoid arthritis)
• inflammatory leukocytes such as neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages, and eosinophils (cancer)
• irritating the cells of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
• atherosclerosis (cardiovascular diseases)
• neuroinflammation caused by toxic proteins such as beta-amyloid (Alzheimer’s)
When a scientist like Callahan, a man who specializes in gene therapy and who has helped find solutions for zika and influenza — a virus — explains how poor food choices cause inflammation and therefore cause harmful cellular changes to our bodies, it’s worth taking heed.
Here are some of the foods that exacerbate inflammation: sugar, saturated fats (dairy, fatty meat), refined carbohydrates (fruit juices, pastries, white bread), processed meats (sausage, deli meats high in sodium).
Here are some of the foods that combat inflammation: tomatoes, fruits (berries, oranges), olive oil, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale), nuts (almonds and walnuts), fatty fish (salmon, tuna).
The cause and effect of poor food choices is not as noticeable as putting in the wrong type of gas in your car. Unfortunately, poor food choices will most likely degrade your quality of life substantially — then it’ll kill you.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Aspen and the surrounding areas. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.