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Health Pearl – Inflammation is the Devil

So here I am, ready to write about the “healthy pearls of wisdom” that I learned while at the IFM conference last month in Scottsdale. At first I wondered where I should begin and then I remembered the three things that Dr Mark Houston drummed into our heads for three and a half days…all cardiometabolic disease (and probably all disease) is caused by one or a combination of three things: inflammation, oxidative stress, or an autoimmune process . I want you to know, as a healthcare practitioner this was quite a ‘load off’. I constantly feel like I am playing a round of “Where’s Waldo” when I meet a new client; trying to find the key to whatever is unbalancing their health. The revelation that it boils down to only three things is very freeing… I just have to find the cause of the inflammation, oxidative stress, or immune dysfunction and I am half way there.

Inflammation is a healthy response in a healthy body. It is triggered by the immune system to protect us against all kinds of bad things: bacteria, virus, cell damage, antigens (foreign things to which the body reacts), toxins, etc. It is supposed to show up, do its thing and then get the heck outta Dodge. But in today’s world of chronic stress, pollution, poor food choices, global exposure to all sorts of bugs, and chronic health problems, inflammation is chronic and pervasive in our bodies. Almost everyone has some level of chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hypertension, and all cardiovascular disease. But why are we so inflamed? There are as many reasons for systemic inflammation as there are chronic health issues in the body, but let me give you one example: Periodontal disease.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research almost 9% of adults aged 20 to 64 and over 17% of adults 65 and older have mild to moderate periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It’s typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden. In advanced stages, periodontal disease can lead to sore, bleeding gums; painful chewing problems; and even tooth loss. It also causes a smoldering inflammation that can move throughout the body causing many health issues.

All of the presenters at the conference include intake questions and a visual exam of the mouth with all of their new clients. I have added these surveys to my intake procedure also. There are many other reasons we can be chronically inflammed…here are just a few:

  • stress
  • smoking
  • poor diet
  • dysbiosis or imbalance of the gut bacteria
  • leaky gut syndrome
  • allergies
  • chronic infections
  • exercising too much or too little
  • exposure to toxins
  • hormonal imbalances
  • overindulgence in alcohol
  • trauma, both physical and mental
  • and the list goes on and on…

So what does all of this mean? For me, its easy… find the cause of the inflammation and I can help my clients to a healthier state. For you, it means to try to control some of the factors that cause inflammation: clean up your diet and take a good quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement, stop smoking or drinking too much alcohol, get your teeth as healthy as possible, take a quality probiotic, de-stress (don’t worry…I will be writing about that soon), do a detox or elimination diet once or twice a year, exercise smartly, and get some help from a functional health care practitioner if you need it.

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