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HOLISTIC HEALTH - March 2017 - Kansas City

Inflammation’s Impact and Dealing with it Naturally

By Nancy Russell, M.D.



The foods we eat can lead to, or prevent inflammation. Harmful inflammation is one of the common causative agents for most of the common diseases affecting human beings. Inflammation is a crucial protective reaction by the body; it is to protect us so that self-healing can take place. Sometimes the inflammation response can be harmful.


Causes of Inflammation

Inflammation is our body’s normal response to an injury, an infection, stress, foreign or toxic exposures and anything that might be irritating us emotionally as well as physically.


Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease are all linked to inflammation in an exaggerated way. In fact, many cardiologists are less worried about cholesterol as it relates to heart artery blockages than about inflammation. Inflammation is more important. 


Polluted air, chemical irritants inhaled or applied to the skin, second-hand smoke, and pesticides are all seen by the body as foreign invaders. They turn on our immune system and acts as an irritation and after months and years of exposure lead to chronic inflammation of the lungs and even cause lung cancer. Our food supply also has irritants in the form of pesticide and antibiotic residues and strong hormones like growth hormone as well as genetically modified organisms (GMOS’s) than can lead to inflammation. Eating organic foods can prevent the ingestion of those irritants. 

Many stomach ulcers are caused by a chronic infection called helicobacter pylori. This bacteria sits in the stomach, produces inflammation, can cause ulcers, and even cause stomach cancer.


A sensitivity or allergy to a food causes an inflammatory response. An allergy is a quick reaction, and the immune response is a protein called IGE. As food sensitivity has a more gradual course that leads to chronic low-grade inflammation, and the immune response is IGG. These reactions can be measured by a blood test. When food sensitivities are found, usually an underlying small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or candida or other yeast infection in the intestinal tract. 


Another common cause of inflammation is midline weight, which involves wearing your weight around the midline of your body. Those fat cells are actually an inflammatory organ, and they produce cytokines, which raise blood pressure, cause inflammation and can lead to diabetes mellitus. 


If you have chronic sleep disturbance or untreated or inadequately treated sleep apnea with even just a few hours of lost sleep, the body may turn on its defense system, which leads to inflammation and weight gain. 


Food and Inflammation

What you eat can turn inflammation on, but more importantly, what you eat can turn inflammation off. 


There are 8 major foods that contribute to inflammation. The number one cause of inflammation if ingestion of sugar, which exists in many forms such as: corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltose and sucrose (table sugar). Next is bad oils that are high in omega-6 such as cottonseed oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil and ‘vegetable’ oil. These are industrial vegetable oils that are usually found in fast foods and processed foods. Trans-fats or partially hydrogenated oils are particularly bad and can lead to laying down of plaque on blood vessels. Trans-fats are found in deep fried foods, fast food and commercially prepared baked goods. Other products that can contribute to inflammation are cow’s milk, cured meats, excess alcohol, refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, and food additives such as MSG and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin. 


Preventing Inflammation

  1. Eat whole foods, organic as much as possible, fish high in omega-3, kelp (seaweed), and whole fruits and vegetables. 

  2. Use olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil or coconut oil instead of vegetable oils. 

  3. Minimize grains and eat brown or wild rice instead of white rice. 

  4. Drink filtered water and avoid using disposable plastic bottles as they are not good for the environment or your health.

  5. Green tea and Tulsi, also called holy basil tea are anti-inflammatory. 

  6. Broccoli, shitake mushrooms, green tea and turmeric can protect against cancer. 

  7. Add these powerful herbs for an anti-inflammatory effect: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, basil and rosemary. 

  8. Use natural cleaning agents in your home and on your body. 


As you journey on your path to health and wholeness, use these lists as a guide and utilize a holistic or integrative practitioner for your health concerns. Make sure you have had an adequate diagnostic workup by your medical doctor if you are not well. 

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Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.


Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.

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