In our last post we discussed the cause of the majority of the chronic conditions, including heart disease, we see in the US: the pro-inflammatory state. Today, I want to talk about some simple things you can do the ensure you’re living a lifestyle that doesn’t promote inflammation.
In last week’s article we highlighted two causes for the pro-inflammatory state: the stress response and the food we eat. Let’s talk first about how to promote a proper, balanced, stress response in your body. We have two general classifications of nervous system stimuli, nociception (negative body thoughts) and mechanoreception (positive body thoughts). Nociceptive input, or negative body thoughts, are stimuli such as pain, chemicals, inflammation, lack of motion, negative emotions or emotional trauma. These nervous system stimuli cause a stress reponse in the body, leading to sympathetic effects that we outlined last week: increased insulin resistance, increase blood lipid and cholesterol levels (LDL up, HDL down), etc. The chronic accumulation of these negative effects leads to the pro-inflammatory state and the eventually development of chronic disease (note that this accumulation occurs even in the abscense of pain or symptoms).
We are very lucky that are body has given us a mechanism to control nociceptive input. This mechanism the result of the second general type of stimuli: mechanoreception (positive body thoughts). These receptors detect positive body input such as movement, posture, positive emotions, good biochemical nutrients, etc. Because of nervous system connections in the brain and spinal cord, the stimulation of these mechanoreceptors inhibit or block the effects of the negative stimuli (nociception). This is HUGE! It means we have the key to prevent heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, and much more! We don’t need a drug to mask the effects, we simply have to promote healthy mechanoreceptive input in our lives.
In what ways can we promote healthy mechanoreceptive input? The biggest key is movement, both globally and segmentally. Global body movement such as exercise stimulates mechanoreceptors in muscle tissue. The act of contracting and relaxing muscles stimulates the receptors repetitively. Ever wonder why seemingly every day there is a new article that talks about exercise preventing ______? This is why: exercise promotes proper nervous system function!
Segmental motion is also very important. Segmental motion refers to motion at specific joints in the body. Certain joints, like those in your cervical spine, have large numbers of mechanoreceptors. When we lose motion at one of these joints, we see large negative effects, conversely, when we stimulate or movement these joints we see powerful results. This is what we are doing with the chiropractic adjustment, and why we see such powerful results with not only pain conditions but chronic diseases such as allergies, asthma, depression, seizures, etc. The chiropractic adjustment is a very large mechanoreceptor stimulant! This is why chiropractic care is vital to a wellness lifestyle!
As we mentioned before, the food we eat plays a major role in causing a pro-inflammatory state. We need to stay away from foods containing white sugar and white flour as these are turned into power inflammatory stimulants in our body. Almost all processed food contains corn products, which are high in Omega-6 fatty acids (in part 1 we talked about how these fatty acids effect the body). We need increase our intake of Omega-3 fatty acids: best done by eating more cold water fish and taking a fish oil supplement. When we eat meat, we need to eat free range beef or chicken. These animals eat grass, they have proper ratios of Omega 3: Omega 6. Farm raised animals are fed feed made from corn – they have very high Omega 6 levels. Finally we need to eat fruits and vegetables, preferably as raw as possible. These have excellant anti-inflammatory products in them. When you cook, try to make sure they retain as much color as possible, i.e. steaming, stir frying (with olive or canola oil).
In the end the science continues to validate what people have instinctively known since Greek times: how you live you life, your lifestyle, directly determines your health and the quality of your life. In the last 80 years, with the advances in medicine and pharmacology, we have been sidetracked. We have looked outward, hoping to find a pill or a potion that will somehow give us health. The reasons for this we’ll save for another post. But understand this (this is the key to wellness), your body is smart. It evolved for millions of years without cholesterol medications, or any other medications. You have all the tools necessary for health and wellness already in you. You just have to do the thing necessary to allow your body to use the tools. You simple have to flip the switch, live a wellness livestyle, and you’ll have the health that you want and need.