Inflammation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Inflammation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Part 2 of 2

In the last blog, we discussed common and reversible causes of inflammation. That is important as we need to understand that chronic systemic inflammation is a part of nearly EVERY disease process.  The remedies seems very clear…just reduce the inflammatory triggers.  However, it is not that easy.

So, what’s the problem?

There is almost no communication between specialties. Everyone is treating the downstream effects of inflammation, but few are addressing the causes of inflammation that are upstream. If so, we could help people who have multiple problems that are really linked together by this common root cause.

Take for example a man who came to see me recently. He wanted to climb a mountain and asked for my help to get healthy. He was 57 years old and took about 15 medications for six different inflammatory conditions: high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, colitis, reflux, asthma, and an autoimmune disease of his hair follicles called alopecia. Yet when I asked him how he felt, he said “great”. I told him I was surprised because he was on so many medications.

Yes, he said, but everything was very well controlled with the latest medications prescribed by the top specialists he saw in every field. The lung doctor for his asthma, the gastroenterologist for his colitis and reflux, the cardiologist for his high blood pressure, the endocrinologist for his pre-diabetes, and the dermatologist for his hair loss. But did any of those specialists ask him why he had six different inflammatory diseases and why his immune system was so unregulated? Was it just bad luck that he “got” all these diseases — or was there something connecting all these problems?

He looked puzzled and said “no”.

I then searched for and uncovered the cause of his problems: gluten, wheat, and grains. He had sensitivities to those (almost everyone does).  I advised him to stop eating wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats. Six months later he came back to see me. He had lost 35 pounds, had no more high blood pressure, asthma, reflux, or colitis, and said he had normal bowel movements for the first time in his life. His hair was even growing back. And he was off nearly all his medications. I encouraged him to take 7 steps to heal his life. That is right, there are a minimum of 7 steps to living an anti-inflammatory life.

7 Steps to Living an Anti-inflammatory Life

Once you have figured out the causes of inflammation in your life and gotten rid of them, the next step is to keep living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. But how do you do that?

Here is what I recommend. It’s alarmingly simple but an extraordinarily effective way to transform your health:

  • Whole Foods — Eat a whole foods, high-fiber, plant-based diet, which is inherently anti-inflammatory. That means choosing unprocessed, unrefined, whole, fresh, real foods, not those full of sugar and trans-fats and low in powerful anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients.
  • Healthy Fats — Give yourself an oil change by eating healthy monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts and avocados, and getting more omega-3 fats from small fish like sardines, herring, sable, and wild salmon.
  • Regular Exercise — Mounting evidence tells us that regular exercise reduces inflammation. It also improves immune function, strengthens your cardiovascular systems, corrects and prevents insulin resistance, and is key for improving your mood and erasing the effects of stress. In fact, regular exercise is one among a small handful of lifestyle changes that correlates with improved health in virtually ALL of the scientific literature. So get moving already!
  • Relax — Learn how to engage your vagus nerve by actively relaxing. This powerful nerve relaxes your whole body and lowers inflammation when you practice relaxing exercises or Christian meditation, breathe deeply, or even take a hot bath.
  • Avoid Allergens — If you have food allergies, find out what you’re allergic to and stop eating those foods—gluten and dairy are two common culprits.
  • Heal Your Gut — Take probiotics to help your digestion and improve the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, which reduces inflammation.
  • Supplement — Take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement, fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids), and vitamin D, all of which help reduce inflammation.

Taking this comprehensive approach to inflammation and balancing your immune system addresses one of the most important core systems of the body.

In the future, medicine may no longer have specialties like cardiology or neurology or gastroenterology, but new specialists like “inflammologists”.  But by understanding these concepts and core systems that are the basis of healthy living, you don’t have to wait. You can be healthy today if you follow these simple steps.

By Doctors Mark and Michele Sherwood

Mark is a doctor in nutrition and Michele is a medical doctor. They are authors of a number of best-selling health and wellness books and lead The Functional Medical Institute, a wellness-based medical practice in Tulsa, OK.


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