I think most will agree 2020 was pretty much a sh** show and the fallout from this past year will take some time to clean up. So in the light of the new year, I am setting some intention to both refine and bring in new patterns and habits that will support longevity and health. I will admit, for some, goal setting can be a wash, especially at the start of the year. But given all we have moved through in the past year, I am inviting all who read this to create some concrete goals or intentions to commit to.
As we begin this new year, I wanted to write a blog about biohacking inflammation to create more energy to live a resilient existence. Resiliency is key to recovering from challenges. Resiliency makes us stronger and allows us to overcome difficulties. However, in order to build resiliency you must cultivate energy.
This blog covers some of my favorite anti-inflammatory strategies to help you regain your energy so you can rebuild and bounce back.
It feels appropriate given our current situation. Living through a pandemic is going to create stress which creates inflammation. It is the nature of the beast. On top of this, most people are already inflamed. After all, we are the result of the lifestyles that we live.
Our levels of inflammation depend on how sedentary we are, the foods we eat, our stress levels, injuries we carry and illness we harbor. Ultimately, Inflammation signals are important red flags that the body produce when it is under any form of stress. Inflammation usually sets in at the lowest point of resistance in the body in the weakest tissue so it's important to take note of the areas in your body that need more support in times of stress.
Inflammation can be an ally if you learn to listen to it.
This took me years to learn! When I was younger, it was much easier to overwork, operate on little sleep and eat poorly, but now in my 40’s these actions are super depleting and my body lets me know very quickly when I am off track.
I see this reflected in my practice as well. People come to my practice who have been inflamed and in pain for years. It is truly the American way to reach first for bandaids instead of looking for the root of the issue. The use of NSAIDS, prescription pain meds and steroids used to numb our way back to normal, simply does not work long term. Pain is a signal and the signals get louder the longer you ignore them!
What is inflammation?
The inflammatory response is an important part of the immune response and serves as a tool for healing tissue. Inflammation is the net result of a cascade of immune cells that are triggered whenever body tissues are damaged and acts as a defense against pathogens.
Most of the body defense elements involve an interaction of immune cells including lymphocytes, macrophages and neutrophils. When a part of the body is damaged, inflammation is a means that the body uses to trigger defense cells and chemicals to enter the tissue around the injured or infected site. The inflammatory response is usually triggered by physical trauma, heat, chemical exposure and infections by viruses and bacteria.
Common Chronic Inflammation Complaints Include:
Joint pain and loss of mobility
Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
Memory and cognitive issues
Blood sugar imbalances
Skin issues such as psoriasis and acne
Two types of inflammation: Acute and Chronic
The acute stage
This stage triggers chemicals known as cytokines to act as “emergency signals” to bring in the body’s immune cells, hormones and nutrients to come it the bodies aid. In the process a hormone substance called prostaglandins create blood clots to heal damaged tissue and trigger pain and fever to aid the healing process. As the body comes back to homeostasis, the inflammation gradually subsides.
The chronic stage
This stage of inflammation is another beast entirely. This is a low grade inflammatory process that produces a low level of inflammation throughout the body for a long period of time. When inflammation is longstanding and uncorrected, it begins to contribute to the development of different diseases.
Factors that contribute to inflammation
Blood sugar imbalances
Leaky gut syndrome
Lifestyle Hacks and Nutrition to Lower Inflammation
Far Infrared therapy
Far Infrared light (FIR) is the frequency of invisible light that is generated naturally by the sun. The heat from FIR is generated by waves at the far end of the infrared spectrum and supports the production of white blood cells to reduce inflammation. It also penetrates up to 3 inches to produce an analgesic effect on tissue which alleviates chronic pain in the body.
Far Infrared sauna therapy is one of my favorite tools for lowering systemic inflammation. I have used sauna therapy for over 10 years and its benefits have been life changing.
If you are looking for a more affordable alternative Far Infrared mats are a therapeutic alternative that allows you to bring the anti inflammatory actions of infrared with you wherever you need it. It can be helpful for those on the go for aches and pains when a sauna is not an option.
You can read more about the benefits of infrared sauna therapy here:
Cold therapy has been used since the dawn of time to decrease pain and swelling. Cold water constricts the blood vessels which result in reduced pain, swelling and inflammation. This triggers the release of norepinephrine will result in pain relief. The short term exposure increases the production of white blood and immune cells which are responsible for fighting off infection. Cold therapy also increases mitochondrial health by means of "mitochondrial biogenesis" thus providing your cells with more energy. Cold therapy is both anti inflammatory and energy producing. A good way to experiment with cold water therapy is to end a shower with 30 seconds of cold water.
Creating a regular physical exercise routine over a long period of time can reduce chronic inflammation. Research shows that the exercise induced hormone adrenaline reduces the production of TNF alpha by immune cells which lowers the risk of insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Cardiovascular exercise combats chronic inflammation which can be checked by measuring C reactive protein levels.
Getting 7-9 of REM sleep nightly is key to lowering inflammation. Your body uses the hours between 11-3 to detoxify vital organs that are necessary for lowering inflammation. I have found that proper levels of sleep greatly enhances the wellbeing of people doing detoxes and GI protocols and even though this is a well known precept it can’t be emphasized enough.
You can read more about the benefits of sleep here:
Anti inflammatory diets
Eating right for your needs is a very personalized process. The right diet is not a “one size fits all” situation but you can take steps to lesson the general inflammatory load. The most common inflammatory foods to omit include, alcohol, sugar, dairy, gluten and processed oils.
In general, consuming healthy fats, antioxidant rich vegetables and fruits and healthy amounts of protein will help your body get the proper building blocks for health. I especially encourage fatty fish such as salmon, olive and coconut oil, leafy greens, beets and other brightly colored vegetables and antioxidant rich spices such as turmeric.
Anti inflammatory Herbs and Supplements
SPMs are marine lipid concentrates that act as chemical messenger in the body’s immune response and has a powerful effect on reducing inflammation in the body. Our bodies use omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA to generate SPMS. Supplementing with SPMS provides targeted and direct support for the body affected tissues to heal. Research supports the idea that pro resolving mediators help to reduce inflammation systemically.
This herbs is one of my favorite herbs. Nettle is renown for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, but it is also well known for its anti histamine properties and it’s high concentration of vitamins and minerals. Its also beneficial for bladder health, lowers blood pressure and contains compounds known to strengthen the immune system. I recommend consuming this as tea daily.
We have a system in our body called the Endocannabinoid system. It is our endogenous system designed to produce and receive cannabinoids. CBD is a phytocannibinoid that works like a lock and key with out endocannabinoid system to deliver messages to our body. Studies have shown that CBD helps to reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity which reduces inflammation, helps with sleep and calms the nervous system, among a myriad of other health benefits.
You can read more about the benefits of CBD here:
Also known as indian frankincense or Salai, Boswellia contains compounds called Boswellic acids which have been found to deter the formation of enzymes that can lead to inflammatory disorders. Boswelia has been studied and shown to produce therapeutic effects similar to NSAID compounds like ibuprofen and aspirin. However, NSAIDS work by inhibiting the COX-2 enzymes and medicines that inhibit the COX-2 enzymes often inhibit the COX-1 enzyme which leads to gastrointestinal issues such as bleeding. Boswelia does not effect the stomach lining and can be extremely beneficial when rebuilding the gut lining for these reasons.
May this next year offer up opportunities to reclaim and restructure our health , wellbeing and vitality in creative and innovate ways. This moment in time is an opportunity for growth and change and we have the ability to grow stronger in the face of adversity. Lets mimic the behavior of trees in the wind by bending and growing stronger.
Wishing you a Radiant Reality!
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