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Preventing Degenerative Disease

Inflammation (Definition) & Pain Management

Dr. Ray Strand: Most of us just have too much inflammation in our bodies. We need to bring this excessive inflammation back into balance, and nutritional supplements are the key

The inflammatory response is the result of a complicated chain of events involving the immune response, which releases tremendous amounts of free radicals, caustic enzymes, and inflammatory cytokines. We have looked at the basic immune response, but we now need to look at how to handle the prolonged inflammatory (chronic inflammation) response that these cytokines create.

Antioxidant supplements are our best tool. They improve our immune system, they help control the inflammatory response, and they build up our antioxidant defense, which in turn protects our normal cells from inflammation's destruction. But there is another important aspect of this inflammatory response we need to look into: our bodies' natural anti-inflammatory system. That's right. Has it ever crossed your mind as you reach for the bottle of Advil that your body makes its own anti-inflammatory products?

Let's take a look at what those products are.

Essential Fatty Acids

Not all fats are bad. In fact an essential fat is just that-essential to the body. The body cannot manufacture these fats and therefore must get them from food. The body uses fats for the production of healthy cell membranes as well as certain hormones called prostaglandins. The two most important essential fatty acids are omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linoleic acid, and omega-6 fatty acids, called just linoleic acid. Our bodies turn omega-3 fatty acids into prostaglandins that are primarily anti-inflammatories. Omega-6 fatty acids become prostaglandins that are primarily inflammatories.

The generally accepted optimal ratio of dietary intake of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids is 4:1. This means we should take in four times as much of omega-6 as we do omega-3.

Omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in the western diet; they are in our meats, dairy products, and processed foods. We get omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable oils such as flaxseed, canola, pumpkin, and soybean oil. These fats are also found in such cold-water fish as mackerel, sardines, salmon, and tuna. As you might guess, the average American consumes a few more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s-a lot more, in fact. On average we consume a ratio of 20:1 or even 40:1 of these fats in our diet!

This results in our bodies producing significantly more inflammatory products than anti-inflammatory products. Our bodies are simply too inflamed. The imbalance in the consumption of these essential fatty acids is the main reason for the imbalance in our body's production of these hormones. That is why many individuals in the industrialized world need tc take flaxseed oil and fish oil in supplementation in an attempt to bring these back into balance.

Here is another unknown fact: essential fats also have the ability to actually decrease our total cholesterol levels and our LDL (bad) cholesterol levels This means that not all fats are created equal. I not only encourage my patients to supplement the omega 3 fatty acids but also to decrease their intake of saturated fat. When you combine these two efforts, the inflammation in the body readily comes back under control and your cholesterol levels improve.

Several studies have shown significant clinical improvements in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and almost any disease that involves inflammation when they consume these important essential fats in supplementation."~ This is a very important aspect of maintaining your health or redeeming your health if you have already lost it.

We have looked at various aspects of our immune system and how it is supposed to work. We have also looked at the problem when this normal inflammatory response gets carried away. But now we need to look at the very worst scenario-what happens when our immune system mounts a mutiny and actually starts to attack our own body.

"What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You."
Dr. Ray Strand