I hope you all find the right way to celebrate this very special time of year and obtain the discernment in 2020 to focus on your health - the foundation of all liberties. I've particularly enjoyed listening to classical versions of "Oh Holy Night."
A new NY Times article titled, "Tackling Inflammation to Fight Age-Related Ailments" gives me pause to ponder our healthcare delivery system and what causes premature aging and diseases that compromises our wellbeing and quality of life. It's actually a very good article. However, it also represents the stubbornly and cautiously slow nature of our evolution in the delivery of solutions to modern diseases.
Saying inflammation is bad, is like saying people are bad - it's too broad of a generalization. Inflammation is often bad but also is often good - let me explain.
According to the article: Specialists in the biology of aging have identified a rarely recognized yet universal condition that is a major contributor to a wide range of common health-robbing ailments, from heart disease, diabetes and cancer to arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. That condition is chronic inflammation, a kind of low-grade irritant that can undermine the well-being of virtually every bodily system.
This is partially true when the culprit is an excess of insulin and glucose caused by the process of "insulin resistance." Hormones are the ultimate body (physiology) regulators. Insulin, a hormone, has a very simple job - to keep glucose levels in our blood normalized. Why? At levels between 65 and 80 mg/dL, glucose is NOT inflammatory. Therefore the job of insulin is to keep blood levels between these 2 values. Outside of this range, our body is out of balance. On the high side, the excess glucose creates low-grade inflammation.
Consider this simple experiment. Take a pencil and rub the eraser on the back of your hand. If you rub for a moment, there is no damage. However, imaging rubbing that eraser on your skin for minutes, hours, or even days. What will happen? Your skin will become irritated, and the longer you do this the more irritated it will become despite your body's attempt to repair and recover. Look upon excess glucose in your blood as the eraser and the level of glucose equivalent to the amount of pressure you apply to your skin. Press harder to simulate more blood glucose. You get the idea, right? Chronically, damage in your vessels will develop just like on your skin surface (and beyond).
Fortunately, since our body profoundly has the ability to repair and recover - but only if we stop the "insult" cause by the eraser (glucose), this is a reversible process. We can accurately measure your body's repair process by measuring inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. In this case C-reactive protein is an indicator of repair. Another maker I favor is Fibrinogen.
White blood cell (WBC) levels, along with C-reactive protein, are markers of your body working in your favor to correct an adverse situation. White blood cells fight infection - another source of inflammation, just like excess glucose. WBCs are to be treasured as they are part of the innate immune system, at work to protect you.
So is inflammation the culprit in this circumstance? Certainly not. In fact, the Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2018 was awarded for the discovery that cancer cells actually turn down the immune system for its own benefit. Based on my research, I don't believe it is the cancer cells that do this, but instead, it is some type of stealth infection at the root of the cancer that is performing this devious act against your health. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2018/summary/
I owe gratitude to two mentors who helped me understand and simplify chronic diseases and premature aging.
Clint Carpenter: He was a Chemistry student at WPI where I did my undergraduate work. Clint was a year ahead of me and a very bright young man. He helped me through organic chemistry by offering very simple advice. He changed my life with this statement, "Tom, don't memorize reactions - learn mechanisms." This is true in medicine too. Most doctors play be the "coding" book that has over 68,000 codes for diseases. Try counting to 68,000. Instead, I believe 3 mechanisms describe at least 90% of all chronic conditions.
Dr. Clement L. Trempe of Harvard who, through his clinical work, showed me the profound connection between disease, symptoms, and infection of the chronic type - largely ignored by medicine today.
Simply put, these 3 mechanisms are:
Bad inflammation created by modern society's addiction to carbs, protein, and sugars.
Sensitivities that are relatively newly induced by "FrankenFoods" that create gut absorption issues and bad inflammation in the gut and beyond through adverse intestinal permeability.
Chronic opportunistic infection like Lyme disease and other infectious species of all ilk that lurk in our environment and bodies and can go unnoticed for years or decades before taking advantage of a vulnerability. They can take hold at any time and create havoc on our health despite our best efforts to be healthy.
Fortunately there are solutions for all 3 mechanisms once any or all of them have been properly assessed. You can certainly control and reverse "bad" inflammation caused by diet. Gut issues are also resolved using the same method. Chronic and stealth infection is a bit more tricky to uncover and treat, especially when it has progressed.
The way to determine if you have chronic infection is through proper blood testing and risk assessments. Consider reading my blog on acute vs chronic lab values to understand how we identify your chronic infection status. https://www.healthrevivalpartners.com/post/acute-vs-chronic-lab-values
Also, I wrote a book explaining this issue titled, "Uncovering Chronic Inflammation and Hidden Infections," available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Uncovering-Chronic-Inflammation-Hidden-Infections/dp/179051875X
I believe this book bring clarity to this issue.
Today, ill-defined conditions top the list of the most costly and detrimental conditions facing our modern society. I don't believe any of us have to fall victim to this. However, you will have to go outside of the "standard-of-care" for a proper diagnosis and solutions.
A good place to start is by taking our "risks at a glance" survey on our home page and then proceed to more advanced but not very costly follow-on testing and evaluation.
Consider making 2020 your year to become proactive in your fight for a healthy longevity.