I was recently reminded of my own ignorance. Sometimes, we get caught up in our own bubbles without being exposed to the realms that others dwell in, which often results in oversight. In this case, I offered to look over lab results for an individual who was concerned about a reoccurrence of colon cancer. Being a functional medicine practitioner, the response that I received took me by surprise until I realized that they only saw me as a chiropractor. A glorified “back cracker” that should stick to his bread & butter if you will. There was no disrespect intended & my ego was not damaged much. It just means that I must educate people more on what I do & how the medical paradigm is shifting. Conventional medicine indoctrinates & programs clinicians to do its bidding which usually involves medication or invasive measures. The system is at fault, not the doctors. That being said, when you want someone qualified to review lab results, search for an individual trained in functional medicine or something similar. That does not mean others will not be helpful, but typically, they do not understand the intricacies of reading labs or even which markers that should be run.
Bringing us to the topic of inflammation, chronic inflammation to be more specific. There are essential blood markers that will notify us of chronic inflammation, but they have to be included in the lab request or you may miss an important detail that can make or break your customized treatment. It is extremely difficult to complete a 1000-piece puzzle with only 500 of those pieces. At least with 900 pieces, you can visualize the picture in the puzzle, or the root cause of the condition for our purposes. There are a multitude of blood markers that give us an idea of your inflammation level & sometimes where that inflammation may be located. Some of the standard blood markers include hsCRP, homocysteine, fibrinogen, ferritin, & ESR. Then we can look at your platelet levels, monocyte levels, cytokines, TAGs & liver enzymes to show more of the picture. A stool analysis may be in order if the signs & symptoms indicate it which will show inflammation within the GI tract. We could also run specific markers for heart damage such as LDH or creatine kinase. And we keep learning of better indicators which makes it all the more important to find someone who stays up-to-date on the science.
Remember that we need acute inflammation to heal our wounds, but then it must shut down before harming healthy tissues. The issue occurs when that acute process turns chronic as the signals for repair continue to be sent. Now, our intricate healing strategy has become destructive. Oops. If the insult has been taken care of, we want those cells involved in the inflammatory process to stand down. So, either there is still a threat that needs to be extinguished or the system has lost control of its own forces. This is autoimmunity in a nutshell. In order for the immune system to operate correctly, it needs to go through a form of bootcamp with extensive training. The cells learn different scenarios and which antigens distinguish self from non-self so that there is no mistaken identification or friendly fire. We require a well-oiled machine like the Roman Army & not some ragtag band of savages with no formal training in warfare.
So, how do we train our immune soldiers properly? Glad you asked. For starters, Vitamin D3 needs to be at an adequate level. Unfortunately, the majority of us are significantly low in this fat-soluble nutrient, even here in the sunshine state. Pair that with Vitamin A, or retinol, & you have two of the most important nutrients to support the immune learning process & to prevent excessive inflammation. Other essential nutrients for the immune system include zinc & alpha-lipoic acid. Short chain fatty acids are compounds produced by your gut microbiome that feed your intestinal lining, although they can also mitigate the inflammatory process. These are considered post-biotics & need a healthy set of bacteria in your colon to produce them in sufficient quantities. You can see how diet & eating habits can initiate a detrimental cascade of events.
Chronic inflammation is at the core of most modern diseases that afflict our population. What is contributing to the chronic inflammation epidemic? Like most complex issues, there is an array of factors contributing to this perpetual inner fire. Meaning that we may have to address multiple factors simultaneously in order to quench the burning inferno. First things first, we must stop adding fuel. Otherwise, your disease process will be akin to the firefighters working diligently on the front of the home while the occupants continue to pour gasoline on the flames. Remove ultra-processed foods from your diet, avoid high fructose corn syrup, focus on some R&R, & make sure that you are prioritizing your sleep. Lack of deep, restorative sleep is one of the most damaging inflammatory stimulators that I can think of & one of the easiest to correct with minor behavior alterations. Other things that may be instigating inflammation include systemic acidosis, overconsumption of calories, psychological stress, emotional instability, toxic relationships, noise pollution, heavy metals, mold exposure, nutrient deficiencies, lack of sunlight, & non-native EMFs.
However, I do not mean to invoke fear. Let’s just start to make small changes over a period of time so that they become everyday habits, ingrained into your subconscious. Start with the low hanging fruit & then progress slowly to your next objective once you feel confident & ready. Incorporate more omega-3 fats into your diet from high-quality sources like wild caught salmon or sardines. Cod Liver Oil is a great choice but spend the extra money on manufacturers that care about the quality of their product, as well as the environment. Walk barefoot in the sand or grass while practicing calming breathwork for 10-15 minutes. Learn Tai Chi & add in Epsom Salt foot soaks or full body baths. Spend more time with your close friends that make you laugh and radiate positive energy. Later on, you can start to incorporate extended fasting, juice cleanses, ketogenic dieting, or cold exposure. In the meantime, there are great passive strategies to help you on the journey including chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, Red/NIR light therapy, peptides, supplements, & PRP, just to name a few.
In closing, recognize that any excessive body fat will release pro-inflammatory molecules. As the adipocytes expand, they send out cytokines which initiate the inflammatory pathways throughout the body, including the brain. This leads to things like leptin resistance, glucose dysregulation, and metabolic syndrome. Needless to say, decreasing body fat percentage should be high on the list for quelling chronic inflammation if you tend to carry a few extra pounds around. And just because you are thin does not excuse you from the conversation since there still can be visceral fat lurking beneath your smaller frame.
If you would like assistance on your health journey and are fed up with the conventional medical model, then contact our office at (727) 789-4020 and Janine will get you all set up for your initial consultation. I look forward to meeting you and helping you to be your best self. We dedicate as much time as needed to get you back on track.