How to Spot the Signs of Inflammation
I remember one afternoon walking along the cobblestoned streets of Notting Hill, West London — the charming quaint town where I was so fortunate to have once lived. In front of a local pub around the corner from my flat, a ton of fancy cars were lined up. One had the American flag waving from its door. There were guys dressed in suits with funky earpieces and serious faces, (like the agents from the movie Matrix).
I thought … wait a minute is that the President’s limo? I walked toward the pub on that empty alley and before I knew it a rope was put up in front of me and I was advised to stand back. In what seemed like a split second, a crowd showed up, standing behind me in a line all held back by a rope. I had a feeling it wasn’t the fish and chips everyone was waiting for. Since there were no smart phones yet, people actually started talking in line.
I learned that the English gentleman standing next to me was an MD, who practiced alternative medicine on Harley Street in London (the main doctor-offices drag in London). I refer to him as “Dr. Good-looking,” for obvious reasons. We had a nice chat about homeopathy, the Queen Mother and Wimbledon. Before we knew it, out walked President Bill Clinton with Hilary by his side. He walked over to the crowd and waved, and looked right at my new friend and me, and said “It’s a pleasure to see you today.”
After he entered the limo, I turned to “Dr. Good-looking” and said, “Seriously, did that just happen?” That was crazy! He turned and stupefied me by saying, “It’s a shame, isn’t it?” I looked at him clueless. He then said, “Your President is a sick bloke. He’s a heart attack waiting to happen.” I of course said, “How in the world would you know this? He then asserted, “Look at his face, his nose, his red eyes. He is loaded with Inflammation…”
“Dr. Good-looking” wasn’t all good looks, but brains, too, because it wasn’t too long after that President Clinton was diagnosed with heart disease, and a quadruple bypass followed! I never forgot our conversation, the “face of inflammation” or lost the lesson. President Clinton had no idea he was living a lifestyle and had all of the secret markings of inflammation.
Keeping an “I” on Inflammation Can Save Your Life
If we had our own personal full-body X-ray, we may be surprised at what we’d see, and we’d also make different choices, so why not pretend that you can see your entire body and its goings-on! I bet you even have an idea of what it looks like, based on your lifestyle choices. First, let me clear something up. There is good and bad inflammation. Your body has a pretty powerful defense system.
The good inflammation, or the NORMAL inflammation, is imperative for survival. Definitely your friend. Normal Inflammation (acute inflammation) is your body’s rapid response to injury or illness. Think about this happening when you, for example, sprain your ankle, get a sore throat, a sunburn or a cut. What you don’t want is BAD inflammation (chronic inflammation), which causes your immune system to run amuck.
Chronic inflammation becomes like a forest fire that you can’t put out. The biggest take-home and reason why you shouldn’t have chronic inflammation on your radar is hidden inflammation is the ROOT of all chronic illness, like heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer and even obesity.
The Signs of Chronic Inflammation:
- Feeling “heat” like your joints are on fire
- Skin problem
- Allergies and asthma
- High blood pressure
- Continual bowel problems (constipation, diarrhea or bloating)
- Chronic fatigue
- Ongoing pain in the body
Are there tests to determine if you have inflammation?Yes, there are several, but the most common for non-specific inflammation is C-reactive protein, which is a simple blood test. Doctors will look for Elevated High Sensitivity C-reactive protein (HS-CRP). Other tests and what doctors look for to determine inflammation:
- SED Rate
- High levels of homocysteine
- Elevated ferritin in the blood
- Elevated HDL
- Elevated monocytes can be a secondary indicator
- Elevated blood glucose
Ok, Doc. You scared the crap out of me! How do I avoid inflammation?Come on … if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know what I’m gonna say… Choices. You avoid inflammation by your choices. You can choose a Pro-inflammatory lifestyle (choices that bring inflammation to the body), or an Anti-Inflammatory lifestyle (choices that keep inflammation away).
My question to you is, what's it going to be?
You chose Pro-Inflammatory when you:
- Stress out all of the time
- Eat like a fool as a rule and not as exception
- Eat inflammatory NO fats like refined seed oils (canola, corn, partially hydrogenated, sunflower, safflower, etc.)
- Work all of the time and find no balance
- Are in a paradigm where you are doctored up on modern medicine and don’t find a wellness outlet to manage health
- Think negatively (i.e., engage in “stinking thinking”) and are critical of others
- Running super low on vitamin D (most of us are, so PLEASE get your levels checked)
- Your diet is filled with sugar, gluten and dairy
- Don’t move your body (humans are designed to move a minimum of one hour daily)
- Live like a hermit without human connection (with all of the meet-ups, interest groups and clubs, there is a place for you somewhere)
You chose Anti-Inflammatory when you:
- Eat a diet that consists of real foods as a rule and not an exception (see more below)
- Create strong, healthy digestive health (more on this in future posts)
- Take a good quality fish oil
- Get enough sleep
- Have positive relationships
- Play and connect with others
- Exercise and find time for movement at least one hour per day
- Unplug from electronics once in a while
- Keep your toxins down where you can (cleaning supplies, air quality, make-up and creams, etc.)
Ok, Doc. I get all of that, tell me a little more about pro-inflammatory and non-inflammatory foods?
Pro-Inflammatory “NO” foods
- Poor-quality “NO” oils
- Artificial sugars
- Refined natural sugar like agave
- Most grains
- Frozen yogurts
- Cheese sticks
- 100-calorie snack packs
- Most bottled salad dressings
- Most packaged spice mixes and dips
- Vegetarian meats (soy burgers, veggie loafs, soy dogs)
Anti-Inflammatory “YES” foods:
- Grass-fed meats (filled with a good ratio of omega oils and CLA’s — anti cancer fighters)
- Oily fish (like salmon and sardines)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh or frozen berries
- Fresh or frozen vegetables
- Bone broth and collagen
- Dark chocolate
- Fish oils
- Red wine (in moderation)
And remember, the choice is YOURS.
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!