Up in Nevada City and Grass Valley we actually have a time of year called Fire Season. Imagine one of those fires raging uncontrollably, destroying everything in its path. It’s a persistent, smoldering type of fire that resists all attempts to extinguish it.
If you are researching chiropractic in Grass Valley or Nevada City there is a high probability that whatever is ailing you is accompanied by chronic inflammation. Like those devastating fires. Reducing inflammation is a big reason why the corrective and balancing chiropractic at Life Chiropractic of Grass Valley is so powerful.
This is what chronic inflammation is like in the body!
If we look at the most common ailments that eventually rob the majority of us of our health and ability to enjoy life we find conditions such as:
- Heart Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease including Ulcers, Acid Reflux, Colitis, etc.
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Type 2 Diabetes
What do every single one of the above illnesses and diseases have in common? They ALL involve chronic systemic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is inflammation that persists for long periods of time ranging from months to years. All forms of arthritis from autoimmune Rheumatoid Arthritis to Degenerative Joint Disease are examples of chronic inflammation.
We’re going to talk about how to reduce chronic inflammation, but before that…
Why Compare Chronic Inflammation to a WildFire?
Your body is ever vigilant about reducing inflammation like a firefighter trying to extinguish a fire. Don’t get me wrong. Acute short term inflammation is really important to the healing process, from a viral infection to a back injury. Inflammation activates your immune system to fight the fire and heal.
It’s when the inflammation persists beyond a few weeks that it becomes a bigger part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Now the immune system can become more of the problem rather than the solution.
This process is what leads to the development of chronic diseases, chronic pain, heart issues, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.
The 5 Causes of Chronic Inflammation in the Body
What are the instigators of these chronic fires in the body? Here are the 5 aspects of life that can either cause chronic inflammation or be a key to curing it.
1. Diet: what you eat has a tremendous impact on whether or not you develop chronic inflammation. Perhaps the best example is type 2 diabetes which is largely the result of a long term abusive diet. Here are a few dietary transgressions that promote inflammation:
- Processed foods: canned and packaged foods are full of laboratory chemicals that promote inflammation.
- Refined Carbohydrates: white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup
- Trans Fats
- Industrial Nut and Seed Oils: canola oil, peanut oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, etc.
2. Stress: we live in a soup of stress and most of us do not recognize the extent. Chronic stress activates the immune system leading to inflammation. It also activates the Sympathetic Nervous System leading to inflammation.
3. Autonomic Nervous System Imbalance: chronic stress and spinal misalignments called Subluxations put tension and irritation on the autonomic nervous system. The Sympathetic “fight or flight” System activation causes increased inflammation. It also turns down the activity of the anti-inflammatory Vagus Nerve of the Parasympathetic “rest-digest-recover” System.
4. Poor Quality and Quantity of Sleep: sleep is critical for maintaining health and you cannot make up tomorrow for what you sacrifice today. Deep sleep is when your brain actually cleans the house. Poor quality sleep and not enough of it fuels the flames of inflammation.
5. Physical Inactivity: sitting has been called the new smoking. Physical inactivity raises blood pressure, causes increased muscle tension, and increases inflammation.
Can You Measure Chronic Inflammation?
There are a few blood lab tests that you can use to track your level of inflammation and measure the improvements as you address the underlying causes. Here are 3 simple tests that will offer an indication of inflammation:
- C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP): CRP is produced in the liver and is a good indication of inflammation in the body. CRP levels will rise in response to inflammation, even the short lasting beneficial kind like that following intense exercise. Persistent elevated CRP is an indicator of chronic inflammation.
- A/G Ratio: Albumin and Globulin are two proteins in the blood. It is the Globulins that are an indicator of immune response. An imbalance of this ratio with either low albumin and higher globulin is a red flag for inflammation.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Omega 3: Omega 6 Ratio: Omega 3 Fatty Acids like EPA and DHA are anti-inflammatory in their impact on the body. The Omega 6 Fatty Acids tend to be more pro-inflammatory. There is an important role for each. The problem is that most of us have far too much Omega 6 in comparison to Omega 3. The ideal ratio of Omega 3:6 should range between 1:2 and 1:4. Most Americans are over 1:20. Measuring Omega 3 levels will give you an indication of how well your body can fight inflammation.
- HRV (Heart Rate Variability): HRV is the gold standard in assessing the health and balance of the Autonomic Nervous System. A high HRV is in general indicative of greater balance and health of the Autonomic Nervous System. This is a great way to both assess and track the impact of what you do on your nervous system.
How to Reduce Chronic Inflammation
It’s time to put out that smoldering fire of inflammation. Inflammation is one reason why conditions become chronic and a big obstacle to being able to recover. Let’s look at those 4 ways to take control of chronic inflammation:
1. Diet: contrary to what you might see advertised this is not about taking a bunch of supplements to reduce inflammation. It is much more important to remove foods from your diet that promote inflammation than it is to take a bunch of natural anti-inflammatories like curcumin.
Reduce or eliminate inflammatory foods like:
- Refined grains
- Refined sugar
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
Increase your intake of whole foods:
- Cold water fish
- Pasture raised animals
Eat healthier fats and reduce or eliminate inflammatory fats
- Reduce inflammatory Omega 6 fats
- Nut and seed oils: peanut, corn, safflower, soybean, canola
- Increase intake of healthy fats
- Fish oil, avocado oil, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, butter
2. Beat Stress: trying to manage stress is a long term recipe for frustration. If there is any low-hanging fruit of stress that you can reduce or eliminate then go for it. After that the goal is to nurture the part of your nervous system that responds to stress. You want to minimize the time you spend with your Sympathetic “fight or flight” System activated and optimize the function of your Vagus Nerve. The most powerful method of doing this yourself is conscious breathwork.
3. Exercise: Our bodies are meant for movement. That is why we have so many joints. Unfortunately, as we experience inflammation we instinctively reduce our activity. This causes more inflammation and more inactivity and this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.
Start where you are! Walking is a great starting point. Taking a 20 to 30 minute walk everyday is a great place to start. If you sit for much of the day, set an alarm on your phone to get up every 30 minutes and walk for a couple of minutes.
Building strength is also important. You can start with simple body weight exercises and build from there. In my practice I share an online course called Foundation Training that offers amazing benefits for a time investment of only a few minutes.
4. Chiropractic Care: Balancing and Corrective Chiropractic Care is the single most powerful anti-inflammatory strategy you can integrate into your life. Be forewarned that the care must be corrective in nature. The goal is to bring your body back into balance, remove nervous system tension and interference and allow your body to heal and maintain balance.
Your nervous system, specifically the autonomic nervous system controls and coordinates the functions of the most critical physiological processes like heart rate, digestion, breathing, immune system, sleep, and more. Interference caused by spinal misalignments typically results in an overactive Sympathetic “fight or flight” System that drives up inflammation while inhibiting healthy function of all the processes listed above.
Every other inflammation reduction strategy is much more powerful in a body without nerve interference.
About the author:
Bringing more than 3 decades of practice experience, Dr. Bill Berkowitz focuses on balancing and corrective care, applying his expertise to provide patients with predictable, repeatable and measurable results.
Dr. Bill consistently strives to enhance the well-being of his patients by addressing the root imbalances of their problems and promoting optimal balance, alignment, and function of the spine and nervous system.
Bill’s wealth of knowledge and experience has allowed him to develop a nuanced understanding of the human body and its intricate connections. With each adjustment, he supports the body in returning to a state of balance that goes beyond mere symptom relief, focusing instead on long-term correction for his patients’ well-being.
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Schedule your first visit here: Life Chiropractic