It has been said that chronic inflammation is both the cause and the effect of the diseases of aging. This is because inflamed tissues produce large amounts of “free radicals” which cause DNA damage. Constant exposure to inflammation reduces our cells’ ability to repair themselves, leading to tissue breakdown and even cancer.
Acute inflammation, on the other hand, is helpful. When you are bit by a shark, your immune cells will release a flood of inflammatory proteins designed to generate pain, to constrict blood vessels reducing bleeding, to activate antibodies to fight off potential infection, and to trigger growth of new tissue to heal the damage. These are all good things, which settle down within a few weeks after injury.
A prolonged state of chronic smoldering inflammation is a bad thing, as it is involved in almost every chronic disease: arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
So, how can we minimize chronic inflammation?
Firstly, reduce your exposure to toxins such as smoking, chemical food additives, and toxic household cleaning products. Secondly, consume the right foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, green tea, and garlic are rich sources of antioxidants. Reduce consumption of inflammatory fats, especially trans-fats, corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and margarine. Avoid fried food. Reduce consumption of wheat and gluten. Reduce consumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Keep alcohol consumption modest. Supplement with healthy fats (Omega 3) from fish and flax seed, aiming for 3000 mg per day. Additional supplements which can reduce inflammation include curcumin 1-2 grams daily, and ginger 1-2 grams daily. Thirdly, reduce your stress and get a good night’s sleep. Fourthly, consider replacing hormones as they decline. This can improve your quality of life, decrease inflammation, does not increase cancer risk, and does not increase heart disease risk. Hormone decline does not serve any positive biologic function.
For more information about dealing with chronic inflammation, or hormone replacement therapy, call 250-717-3200 for a consultation either in person or over the telephone.
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Dr. Grant Pagdin, MD
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