Inflammation drives dis-ease like diabetes, cardiovascular, IBS, Chron’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis and obesity. Even for my clients that just want to lose weight I always say “we must put out the fire first before we can even begin to remodel the house”
Cortisol is a stress hormone and is typically an anti-inflammatory hormone, however when you over produce cortisol for a period of time it becomes inflammatory and can wreak havoc on your body. Cortisol can be over produced when you have long term chronic stress internal or external. Internal stressors usually start with leaky gut!
Some conventional treatments that attempt to inhibit inflammation and reduce symptoms can have destructive effects, especially on the gut microbiome. Long term inflammation can cause serious problems when it is not resolved. Achieving relief using anti-inflammatories only mask the symptoms and continue to destroy the gut, allowing infection and cancer to thrive. Symptom treatment does not address the underlying cause of inflammation.
The best way to zero in on inflammation and what’s driving it, is a functional medicine assessment that includes an in-depth health history, nutritional review, assessment of toxic burden and stress assessment.
Starting with the gut; recognizing that it is the largest source for filtering foreign material and capable of initiating responses against the body, the gut microbiome is the most fascinating organ in the body. The health of your gut can determine the health of your entire body including your brain!
Finding out what allergen exposures occurred before the onset of changes in the inflammatory condition is the best way to start. Doing this well requires knowledge of the disease differential, the conventional and non-conventional therapies used and possible effects. Also, the ability to ask questions leading to clues about the nature of the disorder. This requires understanding conventional, functional and alternative healing systems that give additional perspective on healthy balance to effectively address the underlying inflammation.
Easy place to start is eliminating food elements that are known to be inflammatory foods like gluten, (wheat), dairy, soy, corn and night shades, (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes & potatoes). Then cleaning up fungus, (candida), and bad bacteria in the gut can help clear “leaky gut” and prevent the gut contents from being a source of stimulation of inflammatory responses elsewhere in the body. Basically give the gut the environment to heal and seal by removing the suspected allergens, populating with the right friendly flora and feeding it whole foods that will help nourish the mucus membrane and improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Working with the design of the body is the blueprint to healing. It is important to establish cell to cell communication. Mineral salts such as zinc are vital to the function of enzymes in the body that degrade toxins and support metabolism, cell communication, hormone function and growth. Optimizing these levels can enhance biologic processes including those that reduce toxin load. Most people that I test for zinc are deficient. Most of our minerals are difficult to find in our food supply. When we can optimize these levels it can enhance enzymatic support. Supporting the function of all the excretory organs like the liver, kidneys, lungs and bowel are all vital to reducing inflammatory attack against connective tissues altered by bound toxic molecules.
Next you have to address toxic burden. Heavy metals such as aluminum, mercury and arsenic can poison normal metabolic function, leading to inflammation. The identification and removal of heavy metals is important for calming inflammation, not to mention the benefits of stopping progressive damage from the accumulation of these toxins. Non responders may need genetic testing to see if they may have defects that prevent them from breaking down various toxins.
Essential fatty acids play a very important role in the health of the cell membrane. Many people have cell membranes that are so corroded with saturated fats and trans fats that form an egg shell barrier and inhibits proper cell signaling. Removing the bad fats like baked goods and fried foods and focus on pulling in healthy fats like flaxseed oil, coconut oil, grapeseed and olive oil, having the right mineral and vitamin cofactors, is important for maximum benefit of these unsaturated oils. Adding a high grade, (3rd party tested and GMP certified), essential fatty acid can also help soften the cell membrane making it more permeable and establish proper cell signaling that will result in decrease inflammation.
Ultimately the microbiome in the skin and gut influence inflammation in many ways. There are 10 times more cells and DNA in the gut than in the rest of the cells in our bodies. We know that yeast overgrowth and the wrong balance of flora in our colons can lead to permeability defects in our small intestines, allowing leakage of allergenic molecules into the bloodstream and Peyer’s patches surrounding our small intestines. This can be a source of stimulation of reactions to foreign molecules associated with our own cells, known as an autoimmune attack.
Research shows that the presence of one specific form of bacteria can increase autoimmune reactivity in both the gut and the rest of the body. Dan Littman MD, PhD at New York University, discovered that “small filamentous bacteria” in the gut induces the formation of a specific subset of lymphocytes known as TH17, responsible for increasing autoimmune attacks. Some animal studies suggest that high fat, high sugar diets favor a gut flora that leads to autoimmune attacks.
The simple suggestions in this blog can help lead to correction of inflammation and autoimmune disorders reducing the need for drug therapy. If inflammation is addressed and not just the symptoms, it can knock out the immune reaction, reducing your risk for infection, cancer and side effect of prescribed medications.
Remember if you give the body the right environment it can heal itself, put the emphasis on changing the soil and always work with the design of the body. We heal the same way we were created!
Cindy Crandell RN, CN, Functional Medicine Nutritionist
Forum Health Clarkston
Allan M Dattner MD Alternative Medicine January 2016