So how does one keep from triggering this kind of inflammatory cascade? By keeping the digestive tract functioning optimally. Here are just a few things to ensure more optimal function:
#1) Diet-In order to bring the inflammatory response back under control, the diet must be our primary form of medicine. The following guidelines, when adhered to, will gradually and then more permanently bring chronic inflammation under control. Consume live, raw foods whenever possible. Examples of raw foods go far beyond salad with conventional lettuces. Try using a mix of the dark green, hardy leafed veggies like Swiss chard, kale, mustard, collard and beet greens. Each of these contain a much higher vitamin, mineral and medicinal value than many of the standard lettuces. Adding in sprouts to salads, sandwiches and smoothies will increase nutrient value as well as fiber. Try broccoli sprouts for the additional role that the cruciferous vegetables play in liver detoxification. Raw nuts and seeds are important staples as they add much needed fats (mostly the Omega 3’s), vitamins and minerals, and help balance the pH of the body. Fiber: 4-10 grams/day will help rid toxins from the body. Soluble dietary fiber is fermented in the gut. This acts as a probiotic aid, like a fertilizer of sorts, that creates an optimal environment for flourishing gut flora. Among other beneficial aspects of fiber, high fiber foods help slow the rate at which carbohydrates are converted to sugar in your body, and we are all aware that fiber helps to cleanse the digestive tract. Protien: When choosing sources of protein, the main concern in your mind should be, “in what environment was this animal or fish raised?”. Beyond our concern for humane treatment of animals and conservation of our oceans, the way in which the animal lived, directly effects the quality of their meat. For example, we know that the cholesterol content of pasture raised beef is 500% less than that of lot raised beef. That almost makes grass fed beef a different species. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acid content is 60% higher in grass fed beef. This just goes to show, they and we, really are what we eat!
#2) Supplementation: I believe in “bang for your buck” supplementation. Meaning that there are a few things that when taken in therapeutic dosage will help improve one’s health and decrease systemic inflammation and help heal the gut. They are the following: EPA/DHA 2-3 g/day, Vit. D3 2000-6000 i.u./day (average Northern Latitude dosage), Glutamine 2000-5000 mg/day, Probiotics 25-50 billion c.f.u. broad spectrum (6-10 species of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium), Digetive Enzymes taken with each meal, Fiber supplement (Clear fiber, G.I. Fortify, Spectrafiber) to increase overall dietary fiber.
#3) Lifestyle: I include in this, not only activity level and intensity, but also our daily actions and commitments. When counseling patients about lifestyle, the goal is to take whatever the individuals daily reality is, and insert small manageable changes first, allow small successes to occur and gradually make bigger changes. In the category of daily actions and commitments, sleep is one of the main focuses. Sleep is a great healer and is grossly underrated in our production driven society. Our physiology depends on 6-8 hours per night in order to have time to release and integrate certain hormones whose balance we depend on to sustain vital energy day after day, year after year.
If any of this information piques your interest or concern for your own health, contact Dr. Seegers at (360) 647-1970 for an appointment to begin a sustainable approach to correcting and maintaining your health through nutrition.
By Cherrelyn Seegers, D.C.
Cherrelyn Seegers is a Doctor of Chiropractic, practicing in Bellingham, Wa. She practices 360 degree health care, meaning partially physical medicine, and partially functional medicine with integrated nutrition. Although Dr. Seegers has been a life long athlete, she understands the challenge of both musculoskeletal and physiological health challenges from first hand experience. She has practiced in Bellingham for 17 years after graduating from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon.