Taming Inflammation Naturally
By Dr. Abigail Seaver
[January 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage | Dr.Abigail Seaver]
What better way to kick off a healthy New Year than to address the incredibly important but poorly understood topic of inflammation?
What is inflammation? It’s the body’s natural response to injury or infection. Inflammation is the immune system’s way of signaling a need for repair of damaged tissues and responding to foreign invaders such as viruses or bacteria. This is a crucial function necessary for our survival.
Why do we hear that inflammation is a bad thing? Inflammation can become chronic when an infection or injury goes untreated or triggers the immune system to create an autoimmune response. This often results in tissue damage in the case of arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and cancer. It may even be connected to mental illness.
Other causes of chronic inflammation include obesity and exposure to environmental pollution. Obesity is connected to inflammation in that an excessive intake of macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) stimulates the release of inflammatory compounds called “cytokines.” Increased levels of cytokines predispose one to an elevated risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Environmental pollutants such as the tiny particles from vehicle exhaust, power plants, wildfires, and wood-burning stoves are able to lodge deep in the lungs where they irritate lung tissue. This inflammation then spills out into the bloodstream and damages blood vessels, potentially contributing to cardiovascular problems.
How can inflammation be reduced without shutting down the body’s natural response to injury and infection?
• Weight loss: Reducing caloric intake will reduce the secretion of cytokines.
• Stress Reduction: Prolonged stress creates constant tissue breakdown and impaired immune function. Stress may come from toxic relationships, a job you dislike, an overloaded schedule, or sleep deprivation.
• Address Allergies: Food and environmental allergies can cause chronic inflammation in the form of asthma, eczema, migraines, and other symptoms.
• Optimize Diet: Limit or avoid foods that increase inflammation such as white flour/refined flour products, red meat, french fries and other deep-fried foods, soda and other sweetened beverages, and margarine and shortening. Regularly enjoy foods that reduce inflammation, including olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts such as almonds and walnuts, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges, broccoli, and herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary, sage, oregano, and black pepper.
• Exercise: Recent research suggests that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise daily, such as brisk walking, reduces inflammatory compounds in the body.
Dr. Seaver is a Naturopathic Doctor in Family Practice in Ridgway since 2004. She specializes in the treatment of hormone imbalance, fatigue, digestive problems, and inflammatory conditions. Abigail Seaver, ND, 195 S. Lena St., Unit B, Ridgway, CO 970-626-3188.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine combines safe and effective traditional therapies with the most current advances in modern medicine. Naturopathic doctors address the causes of disease with natural therapies that impact the body, mind and spirit. The goal isn’t just to help you overcome disease, but to also maximize your health and vitality. A registered naturopathic doctor (N.D.) attends a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in the same basic sciences as medical doctors. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor is trained in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, counseling, and physical medicine. A naturopathic doctor takes professional board exams in order to be registered by a state or jurisdiction.