What you Eat Defines Who you Are
As we become more affluent, busier and technologically faster, we have lost time. Everyone I speak with feels stressed for time. People find they have little time to exercise, cook and even to eat. Everything is about getting quicker and becoming more efficient. We eat quickly which usually means a drive thru window, a microwave dinner or opening a can. With these efficiencies, we have all become more overweight, sedentary and at risk for a whole host of illnesses. The rates of people being overweight and obese are progressively increasing and the highest to date. With this excess weight, efficient diet, and sedentary lifestyle, the rates of heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disease are steadily increasing. Diabetes and preDiabetes have reached epidemic proportions. Orthopedic injuries from weight gain and lack of movement are real problems. Much of our obesity epidemic and the host of illnesses we see now are directly related to the foods we take in. This also has come under great scrutiny with many different views on how best to eat whether it be high fat, high carb or high protein. There are calorie counters, point counters and carb counters. There are people who think certain foods are good for them and others, who will say those foods are the enemy. This has left people lost and unclear what to put in their bodies. People are trying to navigate nutrition labels with so many food items that we don’t even know what they are have left people frustrated. We are trying to keep calories down with artificial sweeteners. We are trying to keep fat down with low fat foods. Whew! There is so much to learn and we know so little.
What we do know though is that our diet is a real problem. Many illnesses are directly correlated with the foods that we are eating. Not only is the food that we are eating leading to weight gain, but it also is triggering inflammation in our bodies. I call this the body’s irritation where the body is unhappy with the foods coming in and responds by attacking itself (autoimmune disease), adding plaque into vessels (heart disease and stroke) or building up foreign matter (cancer). Many of us feel that decreasing inflammation in our bodies is the key to treatment of many chronic illnesses. There are medications that we have discovered and are studying to decrease inflammation in our bodies, and these medications have become pivotal in treatment of illness. There is also important research showing that our diets can also decrease inflammation. It is just about knowing what to eat.
Diseases are bound by Oxidation and Inflammation
Oxidation is the process of damaging cells and can be caused by sunlight, pollution, radiation, dietary factors and aging itself. Oxidative stress causes low levels of chronic inflammation. Other causes of inflammation are factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Inflammation is the trigger for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimers, Parkinsons and autoimmune diseases such as RA and psoriasis.
When we look at heart disease and develop risk factors such as diabetes, the elevated sugars directly damage the blood vessels. The blood vessels develop little cracks in them. The platelets are the healers and come and create a scab in the blood vessel. Then when cholesterol floats by it attaches to the scab and forms a plaque which builds over time. We build plaques our whole lives, starting at very young ages. Plaques can cause heart attacks when they obstruct the blood flow through the blood vessel. Sometimes, the blood vessels can rupture or explode and cause an acute heart attack. These are often the ones that cause sudden death. We don’t know which of our plaques is going to rupture. We do know that inflammation plays a role and triggers certain plaques to rupture causing the heart attacks. Most of the medications we use focus on treating the individual risk factors. Few medications can actually target the inflammation. We know that our diets are inflammatory and trigger our bodies to become irritated and inflamed. We follow cardiac CRP which is a blood test measure of inflammation. With modifications in the diet, we hit the problem before the inflammation starts. We target the inflammation head on.
Patients in Clinic
I have patients in my clinic who are at high risk for heart disease. They are diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We treat their cholesterols and we make it perfect. We get the blood pressure perfect. We get the sugars okay (not perfect). These patients will remain obese with a sedentary lifestyle and a high inflammatory diet. They then go on over and over again to have heart attacks, some of them deadly. Changing the level of inflammation in the diet is a game changer.
Read on to learn details on how to promote a healthy and diverse microbiome, and a dietary approach to become healthy and vital.