Are you a pill popper?
Anti-inflammatory medication like Aspirin and Ibuprofen work by inhibiting the enzymes required to synthesize a compound made by the body in response to inflammation, called Prostaglandin.
Unlike most hormones, the prostaglandins are not secreted from a gland and then carried in the bloodstream and work on specific areas around the body. Instead, they are made by a chemical reaction at the site of the inflammation, where they are needed. They can be made in nearly all the organs in the body and are part of the body’s way of dealing with injury and illness.
Prostaglandins are produced by the body in response to inflammation and they have a number of different functions, one of which is the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle. They are secreted by the lining of the uterus during menstrual cramps and contraction of the uterus during birth. In a woman suffering from endometriosis, prostaglandin production can be behind the high levels of pain.
So you could simply take pain killers that target the body’s response to inflammation, or you could look at a more natural approach that could save your body from toxins associated with drugs and save your wallet from the drugstore. You could simply look at adjusting your diet to reduce the inflammation and lessen the body’s response to it.
Most modern diets contains large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared to that of a generation ago, because high omega-6 oils from soy, corn and vegetable oil have been introduced into the food supply. They are used to make hydrogenated fats and as a replacement for traditional fats and oils such as olive oil, butter, coconut oil, goose fat and lard.
Omega-6 is a key player in our inflammatory response system and although it is important to include it in the diet, it needs to be kept in balance with Omega-3 oils, otherwise inflammation can become uncontrollable throughout the body.
According to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, dietary intake of Omega-6 should be 2-4 times higher than Omega-3 and yet their research found that most dietary intake of Omega-6 is found to be 14-25 times higher than Omega-3.
So if we continue with a diet high in Omega-6 and deficient in Omega-3, we are not only increasing the inflammation in our own body, we are also increasing the inflammatory response and pain we suffer from.
The most widely available dietary source of EPA and DHA Omega-3 oil is cold water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. There has been some marketing that consumers of oily fish should be aware of the potential presence of heavy metals and fat-soluble pollutants like PCB’s and dioxins, which are known to accumulate up the food chain. After extensive review, researchers from Harvard’s School of Public Health in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2006) reported that the benefits of fish intake generally far outweigh the potential risks. However, checking on the quality of the fish or fish oil supplements you take is probably a wise choice.
Krill oil has also been promoted as a superior source of Omega-3, however research has shown that the benefits are much the same as that of fish oil. In reality, including any kind of fish oil is better than none at all.
You can find plant sources of Omega-3, mostly in seed or nut form. Here is a list of some plant based Omega-3:
- Peril (wild sesame)
- Chia Seed
- Black Raspberries
- Persian Walnuts
- Pecan Nuts
- Hazel Nuts
Eggs from hens that have had a good diet of greens, seeds and insects – i.e free range and organic have higher levels of Omega-3 than soy or cornfed chickens. This is the same with grass fed beef and lamb, although your diet should restrict red meat as much as possible because this again contributes to the inflammatory system.
Additional here are some dietary tips to help reduce the inflammation inside your body:
- Eliminate completely wheat and wheat products like anything made using wheat flour. Also avoid anything that contains modified starch, dextrins, or malto-dextrin.
- Reduce the refined sugar and processed foods, especially those with high levels of vegetable oil.
- Introduce whole grains and legumes into your diet.
- Eat lots of organically grown fruits and vegetable (avoid pesticides).
- Eat very little red meat. If you do make sure it is organic.
- Eat moderate amounts of white meat like organic chicken and turkey.
- Avoid dairy products.
- Take acidophilus and digestive enzymes to balance your gut microflora.
- Take natural vitamin E, C, zinc, selenium, fish oil and evening primrose oil.
- Take a calcium and magnesium supplement.
- Drink purified water.
So, the choice is yours – continue to eat a modern western diet and pop those pills like I use to for two weeks of every month, or make subtle changes to what you eat, add good quality supplements and treat the cause of the pain at the source.