In the previous post, Silent Inflammation And Chronic Disease , we learned a bit about what silent inflammation is and what causes it. Today we’re going to look at dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to treat silent inflammation.
In Silent Inflammation And Chronic Disease we discussed that silent inflammation is the result of excess production of three hormones: insulin, cortisol, and pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. So to treat silent inflammation we need to take steps that inhibit excess production of these three hormones.
Dietary Ways to Treat Silent Inflammation
Low Glycemic Foods
The best way to keep insulin low is to avoid high glycemic foods. This doesn’t mean avoid eating carbohydrates. It means eating carbohydrates that do not lead to spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Focus on low glycemic foods which can be called “slow carbs”. See our post Low Glycemic Foods. Grains and starches cause excessive elevations in blood sugar and insulin.
The glycemic index and glycemic load can measure a carbohydrate’s effect on blood sugar. The difference between the two is the glycemic index is based on eating 50 grams of a carbohydrate. The glycemic load takes into the account the actual amount of a carbohydrate eaten in a meal, and therefore is a more reliable indicator.
Try to keep the glycemic load of a carbohydrate under 20. Non-starchy vegetables have glycemic loads of 1 to 5. Fruits have glycemic loads of 5 to 10. Grains, starches, snacks, and candies have glycemic loads of 20 to 30.
We do need some fat contrary to popular belief. The key is to eat healthy fats. Avoid vegetables oils like corn, safflower, sunflower, and soybeans which are high in unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids lead to excess production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. In their place consume olive oil and eat nuts like almonds, pine nuts, and cashews. Avocados are another great source of healthy fats.
The worse your diet the more fish oil you need to offset the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Fish oil is an omega-3 fatty acid and shifts the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids to anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. Also, if you already suffer from chronic disease your fish oil requirements will be higher. Dr. Sears, the developer of the Zone Diet is a believer in high dosages of fish oil and recommends the following. Keep in mind the dosages are based on the amount of EPA and DHA in the fish oil not just the size of the fish oil capsule. EPA and DHA usually make up one-third to two-thirds of the typical 1,000 mg fish oil capsule.
- If you have no chronic disease 2.5 grams of EPA/DHA a day
- If you have diabetes, obesity, or heart disease 5 grams of EPA/DHA a day
- If you have chronic pain (no longer silent inflammation) 7.5 grams of EPA/DHA a day
- If you have ADD, Alzheimer’s, depression, MS, Parkinson’s 10 grams of EPA/DHA a day
Curcumin is a compound found in tumeric. Curcumin also inhibits inflammation and is being used more and more as an adjunctive treatment for some cancers and arthritic conditions.
Exercise to Treat Silent Inflammation
Exercise can have anti-inflammatory effects and improves insulin sensitivity. Aerobic exercise and strength training both improve insulin sensitivity. Aerobic exercise does this by causing molecular changes making cells more responsive to insulin. Strength training improves insulin sensitivity by building more muscle. Muscle contains insulin receptors. The more muscle you have the more insulin receptors you have.
Strength training also induces hormonal changes that do not occur with aerobic exercise – mainly the release of growth hormone (plus testosterone) which maintains muscle mass and reduces body fat. Body fat is filled with inflammatory agents (cytokines). To achieve this it is necessary that strength training be performed as sufficient loads. This means exercising to near muscular exhaustion.
Cortisol is produced in response to stress, but becomes a problem when stress becomes chronic. This leads to chronically elevated cortisol levels which become inflammatory. All the dietary methods for reducing pro-inflammatory eicosanoids will protect against excess cortisol. Relaxation techniques are effective at reducing stress and cortisol levels and include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation.
Now that we know what silent inflammation is, what causes it, and what to do treat silent inflammation – how do you know if you have silent inflammation? We will address that in the next article.
See related articles.