Why Am I So Inflamed? #HP-EVOO Blog # 91
Hello Everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to take a look at chronic inflammation - and how we can activate our anti-inflammatory systems to counter it and live our best lives. When we experience low-level chronic inflammation we experience a myriad of symptoms that can be difficult to pinpoint - poor sleep, aches and pains, irritability, headache, brain fog and fatigue...This low-grade inflammatory state sets us up for all the chronic disease processes we see today - cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression, fatty liver, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer's, neurodegenerative diseases, ageing and more. We don't present as our 'best self' to the world - our family/spouse/friends. We may miss that chance at promotion in our job because we were too tired or lacked the mental focus - we may snap at our spouse because we are tired and irritable - this affects our relationships and even our livelihood. Our body is SO SMART! These little red flags are our body's way of warning us that things are going awry, and we need to take action. Let's delve in.
First, what exactly is inflammation? It originates from Latin 'inflammare' (to set on fire). It is literally your body on fire. It is a complex biological protective response - for example: to destroy a pathogen, clear away cellular debris or necrotic tissue. It is the first step in the healing response - like what you see after an ankle sprain - it becomes swollen, hot and red. Your body has signaled repair is needed - so in come the cleanup crew to remove the damaged cells and debris. We NEED this to happen so that we can heal. However, when it is chronically stimulated, it can become a smoldering burn that can turn into cardiovascular disease, cancer or a myriad of other disease processes. These are usually in places you can't see - for example, along the lining of your blood vessels. We don't even realize it is happening because at first our symptoms are so mild. Maybe our blood pressure is slightly elevated - or we experience sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction) due to loss of NO (nitric oxide). Most of us just chalk it up to "getting older." However, we need to be listening and making changes!!
A major source of these little fires originates in the mitochondria. Mitochondria use oxygen to metabolize our food - this can create ROS (reactive oxygen species). They become overwhelmed with the SAD (standard American diet) - a high-carbohydrate/high sugar diet - void of antioxidants and rich in inflammatory seed oils, such as canola, cottonseed and safflower oils. Our mitochondria become damaged and increase production of ROS and RNS (reactive nitrogen species). Think of "I Love Lucy" when Lucy and Ethyl were trying to keep up in the chocolate factory but failing! Inflammation also can result due to infection (insult from pathogens), mold exposure, chemicals, irritants, damaged or senescent cells activating our immune system - that fights with chemical warfare - such as hydrogen peroxide, for example. The insults to our biological systems add up - polluted air, water, GMO foods, glyphosate - pesticide/chemically sprayed foods, plastics, synthetic furniture and fabrics, beauty products, electronic devices and EMF (electromagnetic frequency) and more. The more hits we have from these, the more inflamed we become and the more antioxidants we require to put the fire out.
So, how do you know if you are inflamed? - if you have high blood sugar or belly fat (marker for visceral/organ fat) you are inflamed - How much you are inflamed? You can get a high-sensitivity CRP (C-reactive protein) on your bloodwork. Ask your MD to test! Ideally, it should be < 0.5. If this number is >1.0, you have chronic low-grade inflammation.
We need our oxidative system to fight infection from pathogens, initiate wound healing and clean up dead cells and debris. However, it needs to be in balance with our antioxidant systems. When your ROS is greater than your antioxidants, you will be in a more pro-inflammatory or 'oxidative stress' state - which drives all disease processes and damages mitochondria. This is where our body's "fire department" or antioxidant systems come to the rescue. "Enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant systems in the body, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPX), lipid-soluble vitamin E, carotenes, and water-soluble vitamin C, regulate the balance between ROS and antioxidants."
Antioxidants work together to put the fire out by neutralizing ROS - sort of like passing a hot potato down the line - vitamin C donates an electron to neutralize the ROS, then becomes oxidized - vitamin E then neutralizes vitamin C donating an electron then becoming oxidized and so on until all are neutralized by our body's major endogenous antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione is very powerful and can neutralize several ROS. The neutralized vitamins C and E are regenerated to keep neutralizing other ROS. Did you know that vitamin C looks very much like glucose? The body will uptake glucose over vitamin C! This is one way eating a high carbohydrate diet sets you up for chronic inflammation!!
“Glutathione is a tripeptide (cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid) found in relatively high concentrations in many bodily tissues. It plays a pivotal role in reducing oxidative stress, maintaining redox balance, enhancing metabolic detoxification, and regulating the immune system. Various chronic, age-related diseases such as those related to neurodegeneration, mitochondrial dysfunction, and even cancer, have been related to suboptimal or deficient glutathione levels. There is increasing awareness of its utility in mitigating body toxin load through its ability to enhance hepatic conversion and excretion of compounds such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs).” Glutathione is one of the 2 antioxidants - the other being melatonin - used by our mitochondria to keep them safe and functioning optimally. So, how do we increase our glutathione production? Several things must be present - all 3 amino acids as substrate: cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid - magnesium, and its cofactor, selenium. Here are some strategies to increase our glutathione (GSH) production. Recommended intake for many of these is included - based on a 2018 research article:
- Acidify your stomach - normal pH is 1-3 in order to kill pathogens and fully break down your proteins into their individual amino acids - freeing minerals like magnesium and zinc to enhance their absorption. Partially digested proteins can leak from the gut activating an immune response that can set you up for autoimmune diseases. Producing enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach also activates bile secretion that further acts like a detergent to kill pathogens and further breakdown food. What do you think taking an antacid drug does - especially long-term??? 😳 Use Celtic or Himalayan sea salt, ACV, lemon water and intermittent fasting to restore stomach acidification.
- Eliminate highly processed grains (higher glucose response than sugar and contains many toxins and pesticides), HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), sugars and seed oils - these all promote inflammation and disease processes.
- Include fiber, vitamins, polyphenols and healthy fats to support your microbiome and mitochondria. HP-EVOO and other healthy fats enhance the uptake of phytonutrients from vegetables - drizzle on your food just before eating!
- Glycine - (100mg/Kg/day) - amino acid required for GSH synthesis - found in legumes, fish, dairy and meat
- Selenium - (247mcg/day) - cofactor to activate GSH - Brazil nuts are a fantastic source (2/day), fish and seafood
- Magnesium - (400mg/day) dark green leafy vegetables - nearly all of us are deficient. GSH cannot be made without magnesium.
- Serine - almonds, walnuts, eggs, lentils, chickpeas, meat, fish and shellfish, seaweed, sweet potato - it is metabolized into glycine.
- NAC - (N-acetylcysteine) (600-1200mg/day) increases GSH synthesis.
- Alpha Lipoic-Acid - (200-600 mg/day) - increases GSH production
- Whey protein - high in cysteine
- Cruciferous vegetables - (250g/day) high in sulforaphane that enhances detoxification.
- Vitamin E - (100-400 IU/day) increase production of GST (glutathione s-transferase) enzyme
- Omega 3s - (4000 mg/day) increase production of GST - fish and seafood, grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, chia seed, flax seed, hemp hearts
- Vitamin C - (500-2000 mg/day) raw fermented sauerkraut, (esp. purple cabbage) red sweet peppers, berries increase glutathione particularly in red blood cells.
- Quercetin - and many other flavonoids work with GSH to increase redox ratio - capers, red onion, garlic contain high levels.
- Green Tea - (4 C/day) high in EGCG is a phytonutrient and antioxidant that stimulates glutathione production.
- Herbs: rosemary, parsley, oregano, marjoram, thyme, curcumin, milk thistle, gingko biloba - stimulate hepatic (liver) production of GST.
- Exercise - increases oxygenation of tissues, enhances mitochondrial respiration and combats WAT (white adipose tissue). WAT (like in belly fat) produces inflammatory molecules. Researchers found that “chronic exercise modulates redox homeostasis in WAT, improving antioxidant capacity, and mitochondrial function.”
- Combat Chronic Stress - our body is very good at dealing with acute stress - run from danger, for example. However, low-grade chronic stress is highly inflammatory, drives high blood sugar and many other disease-promoting problems. Mindful meditation, breathing exercises and other techniques help reduce stress.
- Grounding - spend some time barefoot in the grass connecting to the earth. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory tool. 30 minutes/day at least - or get a grounding mat for your bed or office.
- HP-EVOO - (high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil) (4T/day) high in polyphenols that not only are powerful antioxidants, but also feed the mitochondria and induce autophagy - at least 36 phenolic compounds are found in EVOO that have synergistic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. HP-EVOO (esp. oleocanthal-rich) helps to restore proper function of the BBB (blood brain barrier), intestinal epithelium, arterial endothelium and cellular membranes. Oleuropein has powerful autophagy-inducing properties and acts on multiple pathways and cell types - protective against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegeneration and cancer. It modulates mitochondrial function, energy, and removal of damaged mitochondria. Since "mitochondrial dysfunction and uncontrolled production of ROS underlying oxidative stress are the common hallmarks of multiple diseases," HP-EVOO is one of the most POWERFUL tools you can use to combat disease processes and promote health.