I hear all the time from patients that our recommendations to reduce chronic inflammation have changed their lives, even before we ever get to trying to help them with precise stem cell injections. Now a new study highlights just how important controlling that chronic inflammation can be. This research now adds leukemia to the list of terrible diseases caused by inflammation, like heart attacks and strokes. In particular, this blood cancer has now been linked to chronic inflammation in the bone marrow.
Why Chronic Inflammation Can Wreck and Kill You
There are two types of inflammation—acute and chronic. One is needed to help repair tissues, while the other destroys them. Let me explain.
Acute inflammation is what happens when you injure something. The area swells as your body brings in an army of cells to try to repair the injury. If your body heals the problem, then the inflammation is turned off. If your body fails to fix the area, then low-level chronic inflammation can set in, which can lead to problems. Take, for example, a joint that has to repair small bits of cartilage damage every day. The stem cells in the joint, when exposed to the chronic inflammation, don’t produce normal cartilage cells but instead what’s called hypertrophied cartilage (abnormal tissue that’s not as durable as normal cartilage). Hence, controlling chronic inflammation in joints is essential.
Chronic inflammation (CI) can also build up in your body as you age. Being overweight with abnormal blood-sugar control (prediabetic or diabetic) can fan the fires of CI. Other things that can cause this problem include poor sleep due to apnea or other reasons, like eating a diet with foods that you’re sensitive to, lack of exercise, a bad mix of bacteria in your gut, and bad genes.
Chronic inflammation is known to cause some nasty stuff. This list includes arthritis, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Hence, fighting chronic inflammation as you age is crucial.
What Not To Do and What To Do About Chronic Inflammation
If you want to die an early and agonizing death, doing things, like those below, to cause more chronic inflammation is one way to go about it.
- Not recognizing that you have CI
- Allowing yourself to gain weight as you age
- Eating sugar, refined foods, and high-glycemic foods
- Eating foods that are wrong for your genes
- Skipping frequent exercise
How can you combat chronic inflammation? First, you have to understand the warning signs of a problem. One surefire sign that CI is in your life is the inability to function without NSAID drugs, like Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen, Celebrex, Mobic, or others. We have an entire generation of middle-aged and older people who have discovered that popping a Motrin helps them do things with less pain. Before long they’re taking one every day to function, becoming addicted to the drug. If this is you, please stop taking these deadly drugs that all by themselves can cause a heart attack or fatal stroke.
What can you do to get off of these drugs?
- Lose weight. An excellent way to do this is to try the eating recommendations in Dr. Pitts’s book—Nutrition 2.0. If that doesn’t work, then consider an elimination diet. The goal here is to eliminate foods that may not agree with you and then slowly add them back to see which ones are a problem. A good one is the CLEAN diet.
- Regain the ability to exercise. Many middle-aged and older people have lost the ability to work out due to musculoskeletal problems, like a bum shoulder, a bad ankle, or aching knees. Get those areas fixed through advanced regenerative medicine techniques, like the ones offered at Regenexx. On the other hand, avoid surgery as much as possible.
- Add supplements. I’ve discussed many times on the blog how you can add certain anti-inflammatory supplements to reduce this chronic inflammation and feel better. This list includes the following:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
- Fish oil
- Avocado pits
We’ve got an entire store full of anti-inflammatory–support supplements (except the avocados) at this link.
The New Study
The new research is focused one type of cell that lives in your bone marrow called hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). These cells do everything from creating new blood cells to assisting in muscle and other repairs. The researchers found that inflammation as measured through toll-like receptors (TLR) caused damage in the genes of HSCs, which lead to leukemic-type cells. TLRs respond to proteins commonly found on the surface of bad bacteria that your body needs to fight off. Hence, this is one part of your immune system that can cause inflammation to help fight an acute infection but that can also play a role in chronic inflammation.
The upshot? If you’re aging, like the rest of us, controlling chronic inflammation may help you live longer and healthier. I’ve given you some tools above. The beautiful part about that toolbox of things to do is that I hear several times a week from patients who have just read the website and whom we have yet to see in the clinic that making these changes has allowed them to have less pain and get rid of harmful over-the-counter or prescription medications!