Inflammation is not complicated- It is quite simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition occurs called chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.
What thoughtful person would willingly expose themselves repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to their body? Well, smokers, perhaps, however at least they made that choice willfully.
The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by low fat diets
recommended for years by mainstream medicine.
What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates ( sugar flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.
Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. You kept this up several times a day for five years. If you could tolerate the painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.
While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugar and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils, for longer shelf life, have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have slowly been poisoning everyone.
How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?
When we consume a simple carbohydrate like sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into the cells where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid cellular dysfunction. This process is another example of how are body protects us even when we repeatedly abuse it.
When your full cells reject the extra glucose, the blood sugar rises, alarming the pancreas to produce more insulin AND the glucose is stored as fat. A sort of storage form of glucose until the body requires the glucose for energy at a later time.
What does all this have to do with inflammation ?
Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is similar to taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessel walls.
Let’s go back to the sweet roll. That delicious and innocent treat not only contains sugars, it is baked in many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are also soaked in soybean oil. Processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6s are essential- they are part of every cell membrane- they MUST be in correct balance with omega-3s.
If this balance of omega-6 and omega-3 tilts toward the 6s as the standard American diet favors,the cell produces a chemical called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.
Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to 30:1 of omega-6s. That produces a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.
To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and finally Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.
At our clinic we test levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 through a simple finger stick test known as Brainspan.
There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch a little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.
There is only one answer to healthy inflammation, and that is returning to foods
closer to their natural state. To build more muscle, eat more protein. Choose
carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut
down on or eliminate inflammation-causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil
and the processed foods that are made from them.
One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or organic butter.
Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause
inflammation that the supposedly healthy oils labeled polyunsaturated. Forget the
“science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that
saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels is very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.
The following excerpt from Dr. Dwight Lundell, further illustrates the effect of inflammation in the body.
“We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit when we are wrong. So here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon of 25 years experience, having preformed over 5,000 open heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with scientific and medical fact.
I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labeled “opinion makers.”
Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.
The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and diets that severely restricted fat intake. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibility be considered malpractice.
IT IS NOT WORKING!
These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a new paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.
The long established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of morality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.
Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than every before.
Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.
Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the cell wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.
The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.
What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those that your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh, unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the “Standard American iet.”
If you would like to schedule a functional medicine consult with Dr. Rudack, call our office at 702-362-0336.
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