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Preventing Chronic Degenerative Disease and Obesity: Get in the Anti-Inflammatory Zone Naturally
by Dr. Karen Wolfe

A recent headline in USA Today, and an article in Men’s Health (Dec. 04), and a book by Dr. Barry Sears, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, all highlight the dangers of silent inflammation that occurs within the cells of the body.

The USA Today article by Steve Sternberg quotes studies that appeared in New England Journal of Medicine. It says: “Inflammation is as potent as bad cholesterol: Two leading research groups independently report today that lowering blood levels of a protein that promotes artery inflammation is just as important as reducing bad cholesterol for preventing heart attacks and strokes. Their conclusions reflect a major shift away from the notion that bad cholesterol, or LDL, is the primary villain in heart disease. Levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) also must be reduced to halt the disease’s progression, researchers said.

The article in Men’s Health, Bonfires of the Arteries, sites “Inflammation is the slow burn that sparks thousands of heart attacks and strokes every year.”

“Half of all heart attacks and strokes in the United States each year occur among people with essentially normal cholesterol levels, says Paul Ridker, M.D., a professor of medicine at Havard medical school. There’s more to heart disease than just lipids. In addition to the problem of cholesterol, there’s the problem of the immune system or the inflammation response. A heart attack occurs when plaque ruptures inside your blood vessels. But that rupturing hinges not just on how much plaque you have but also on the degree of inflammation, Dr. Ridker says. Your level of CRP – measured by a simple blood test – helps detect this condition so you can predict whether you’re in danger of cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

Many people take drugs to dampen down inflammation. After numerous months of controversy, the FDA removed Bextra from the market this month amidst reports that it posed health risks to the heart and stomach, and can cause a potentially fatal skin condition. Vioxx was also taken off the market in September 2004 because of dangerous and life-threatening cardiovascular side effects. The FDA established new warning labels for anti-inflammatory drugs, both prescribed and over-the-counter and older, popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), are also coming under increased scrutiny.

This is a big step in protecting the consumer from the dangers of these drugs, but it’s left many wondering what to do now.

Top Ten Tips to help reduce inflammation (CRP) levels in the body naturally.
  1. Take a High Quality Multi-Antioxidant
    A study in the American Journal of Medicine showed that people who took a multivitamin each morning for 6 months decreased their CRP by 0.7 milligrams per liter. And a University of California at Berkeley study found that people who took 500 mg of vitamin C saw a 24 percent drop in CRP after just 2 months.
  2. Get in Anti-Inflammatory Food Zone
    People who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet " one rich in olive oil " had CRP numbers 20 percent lower than those of their less oily brethren. Here are some other specific diet tips.
    • Reduce your intake of high glycemic foods.
      White foods of all kinds (pasta, French fries, white bread, white sugar products) all produce inflammatory chemicals in the cells. Eliminating or greatly reducing these will make a difference immediately. To speed up the process and see for yourself, I recommend a digestive cleanse process.
    • Avoid all partially hydrogenated fat.
      These fats create inflammatory chemicals and also damage cell membrane function.
    • Hold the red meat, eggs, and night shade vegetables.
      Some people are intensely sensitive to the arachidonic acid in red meat and eggs. When they stop eating these foods, their joint pain goes away quickly. Others are sensitive to the nightshade vegetables, which include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. It’s easy enough to stop them for ten days to see if you notice a difference. Sometimes this is all that is necessary!
    • Get enough omega-3 fats in your diet.
      Getting enough omega-3 fats in your diet is a natural and highly effective way to help the body resist inflammation. Wild Alaskan salmon is loaded with omega-3 fats, as are omega-3 rich eggs, sardines, and flax seeds. You can also get omega-3 fats in supplement form. I recommend 1000-5000 mg per day in divided doses.
    • Eat colorfully!
      Follow a diet rich in plant foods of all types, especially the highly pigmented ones such as blueberries, raspberries, kale, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and squash. These are loaded with naturally-occurring antioxidants that decrease inflammation and thwart oxidative stress caused by free radicals. For more information about this, see the book The Color Code.
  3. Floss
    Inflammation effects of periodontal disease also cause inflammation of your arteries.
  4. Stop smoking.
    Smoking takes toxic chemicals into the lungs and distributes them to every cell in the body, accelerating the aging and inflammatory process exponentially.
  5. Get Good Fats
    In a new Harvard study, people who consumed the most omega-3 fatty acids (1.6 grams per day) had 29 percent lower CRP readings than those who ate the least. Fish oil has a direct anti-inflammatory effect by either: inhibiting the formation of arachidonic acid (AA), or inhibiting the enzymes that transform AA into pro-inflammatory eicosanoids.” Dr Barry Sears tells us “On a scale of 1 to 10 for supplements, I give high-dose fish oil a 12. It’s the number-one anti-inflammatory supplement you can take – as long as you take an ultra-refined product that has had the vast majority of the inherent toxins removed… If you only take one supplement in your life, make sure it’s high-dose fish oil…
  6. Increase lean muscle mass and reduce body
    Reducing fat helps reduce CRP.
  7. Get Fiber
    Consume your recommended 20-plus grams of fiber..
  8. Practice the Friendship Solution
    Social Interaction helps reduce depression which helps to lower CRP.
  9. Release resentment.
    According to Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life and the famous little blue book Heal Your Body, arthritis is associated with feelings of criticism and resentment. A good affirmation for this is the following:
    I now lovingly release all past hurts, resentments, and grievances and open myself up to love and approval on all levels.
  10. Be moderate.
    It is certainly true that some people need a bit of NSAID or COX-2 inhibitor to get through their day at least while they’re making other lifestyle changes. If this is true for you, don’t spend a moment worrying about it. This just leads to more stress chemicals. Sometimes taking a small risk for significant pain relief is worth it. Just use the least amount that does the job, make the changes you can make as lsuited, and then let it go. As an alternative to the drugs removed from the market by the FDA, consider other joint-healthy supplements. Two of the most powerful and beneficial are glucosamine sulfate and OPCs.
Glucosamine sulfate is found naturally in high amounts in joint tissue. It stimulates the body to make cartilage, thus helping repair the joints; glucosamine also helps protect joints against destruction. When taken orally, it is absorbed selectively by joint tissues where it exerts a powerfully therapeutic effect in those with osteoarthritis. Many good studies have shown that it works better than NSAIDs and placebos at relieving the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis in at least 50 percent of people—with only minor side effects Recommended dosage is 500 mg, three times per day.

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are a powerful group of antioxidants found in both pine bark and grape seeds. There’s good research on both grape seed extract and pine bark. Because OPCs help repair connective tissue, they are also very good for bones, hair, nails, and skin.

Copyright Dr. Karen Wolfe. All Rights Reserved.

Karen Wolfe is a national and international speaker, author and coach. She is the author of:
  • Medicine From the Inside Out - 7 Keys to Unlock Your Natural Healing Wisdom
  • Menopause - Renewal in Midlife,
  • From Stress to Strength
  • Successful Aging
  • A Wise Woman’s Approach to Healing and Cancer
  • Awaken Your Healer Within
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