Today’s Solutions: July 25, 2024

Whole Body Healing

What does a stubbed toe or a splinter in a finger have to do with your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, suffering a heart attack or succumbing to colon cancer? More than you might think. After decades of searching for the mysteries behind the diseases most likely to afflict us, scientists found one factor common to virtually all of them: the immunological defense mechanism known as inflammation. What they have discovered has led to an emerging understanding of how lifestyle choices—like diet, dental health, and exercise—may influence inflammation and its potentially damaging downsides.

According to Johns Hopkins Health review, inflammation is a biological response to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells or irradiation. It is an essential protective attempt by the organism to remove injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process. This response includes the release of antibodies and proteins, as well as increased blood flow to the damaged area. The whole process usually lasts for a few hours or days in the case of acute inflammation.

When our body’s powers of correction go wrong, they can work against us. Problems begin when, for one reason or another, the inflammatory process persists and becomes chronic; the final effects are varied and depend a lot on where in the body the runaway reaction takes hold. Among the first to recognize the broader implications were heart doctors who noticed that inflammation seems to play a key role in cardiovascular disease. We feature this ground-breaking research below, along with tips for fighting chronic inflammation and a tasty anti-inflammatory recipe.

How to Fight Inflammation: The Root of All Disease

A 25-year research program made it abundantly clear that inflammation lies at the root of heart disease, and not cholesterol. In this study, 10,000 heart patients who had had a heart attack were monitored over the 25-year period. Patients significantly reduced their risk of a second attack if they lowered inflammation in their body, even if their cholesterol levels remained the same. The study was inspired by the observation that around half of the people who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels.

In this study, 10,000 heart patients who had had a heart attack were monitored over the 25-year period. Patients “significantly” reduced their risk of a second attack if they lowered inflammation in their body, even if their cholesterol levels remained the same. The study was inspired by the observation that around half of the people who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels.

The heart study follows a series of other studies about inflammation that we have recently reported on in the Optimist Daily. Here are links to a few recent stories:

The key message of all that research is that inflammation is beginning of diseases. So, then the question is: how do we prevent inflammation?

Fighting Inflammation Naturally
Our diets play an important role in chronic inflammation because our digestive bacteria release chemicals that may spur or suppress inflammation. Many studies point to the role probiotics play in creating a healthy gut and preventing inflammation:

Ultimately, a healthy digestive system—that prevents inflammation—begins with a healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet is probably the most researched diet in the world and that research consistently points to the anti-inflammatory effect of food that consists more of fat and vegetables and less of grains—and red wine:

As long as you are not allergic to any of these anti-inflammatory foods and beverages, they include the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and brightly colored vegetables naturally contain high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols — potentially protective compounds found in plants.
  • Nuts and seeds. Studies have found that consuming nuts and seeds is associated with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Beverages. The polyphenols in coffee and the flavonols in cocoa are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is also rich in both polyphenols and antioxidants.
  • Adaptogens. Adaptogen refers to a plant’s ability to adapt to its environment, to survive, and to adapt to exterior stress. Adaptogenic herbs—such as rhodiola, ashwagandha, ginseng, phosphatidyl serine, and maca—help strengthen and stabilize the body, thereby mollifying the impact of stress.
  • Other anti-inflammatory superfoods include: garlic, ginger, turmeric, and pepper.

And there is one type of food you want to avoid as much as possible: sugar. Sugar is increasingly viewed as the root of all the diseases of westernization, that is: the root of all inflammation. There is one more thing: our body quickly turns carbohydrates into sugar. So, even if you eat less sugar, you may still feed inflammation more than you want through your consumption of grains. The bottom line: replacing meats, sweets, and refined grains with beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish —and substituting oils for butter and margarine—is smart, even if it doesn’t change your inflammatory markers one iota.

Reduce Stress, Reduce Inflammation
Although the role of exercise in staving off chronic inflammation is less well documented than dietary changes, experts still tout physical activity as one of the best ways to keep inflammation at bay. Exercising causes an acute inflammatory response in the short term, but an anti-inflammatory one when we regularly get moving. The best part? It doesn’t matter how you move – just get out and go. The indirect results of exercise on inflammatory diseases are bountiful.
Sleep plays an important role in the inflammatory response as well. To get your full allotment of sleep, heed the advice of Dr. Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., a sleep specialist at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Naiman advises making it a priority to routinely get to bed early enough to allow the full amount of sleep you need. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to ensure quality rest that will allow your body to function in a happy and healthy way. 

Experiencing chronic stress has been shown to disrupt our body’s ability to control inflammation. In other words, if we are stressed out all of the time, we are likely to experience increased inflammation. This increased inflammation may increase risk of disease and negatively affect quality of life. Coping with stress in a positive way is known as resilience, and it has many health benefits.  Being resilient is a skill you can learn and sharpen every day, so it’s never too late to give it a try. Here are some ways you can build resilience:

Meditate. Mindfulness can help decrease anxiety, depression, stress, and pain, and help improve general health, mental health, and quality of life. Practicing a meditation technique counters stress by eliciting the relaxation response, which helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones. Elicit the response with yoga, tai chi, meditation, guided imagery, or deep breathing exercises. One of our favorite (free!) mindfulness apps is Insight Timer, which includes over 2 million guided meditations.
Laugh more. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, though, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life. Try watching a funny movie, reading a funny book, or even forcing yourself to laugh. In case you missed it, we did an entire feature on laughter and you can read it here.
Lean on your social network. Friends and family are important stress buffers. “You can cope better if you have people you can share your stressors with, or people to help you,” says Laura Malloy, the Successful Aging program director at Harvard’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.
Be optimistic. Optimism is more than a smile or a sunny disposition. Optimism is an intellectual choice and it’s a necessary ingredient of resilience. Research shows that part of what enables people to thrive, despite setback, failure, and hardship, is the ability to think optimistically in the face of adversity. Optimistic thinkers ask themselves, “Where do I have control? What can I do to make this situation better? What can I learn from this struggle?” Because optimistic thinkers focus on control, they don’t slip into helplessness. And because they persist, they tend to succeed in some way or another.
Additional ways to fight inflammation:
Research has recently found a successful role for cannabidiol (CBD) in treating inflammation. CBD is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid constituent of Cannabis sativa. CBD carries potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, translating to anti-inflammatory effects. These effects provide great hope to those suffering from conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, caused by inflammation in the central nervous system.
According to a new study, acupuncture stimulates anti-inflammatory biochemical responses in the body.
Turmeric is one of the healthiest and most powerful spices in the world. The main ingredient and most active compound in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is extremely powerful polyphenol and it can provide more than 150 therapeutic benefits, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Below is a downloadable recipe for a powerful natural turmeric drink, Golden Milk. This delicious drink is one of my favorite ways to stay warm and healthy through the colder months, so I thought I’d share how to make golden milk so you can do the same! 
Download Golden Milk Recipe Here
Let us know how you like it! Email your thoughts on Golden Milk to
Turmeric has a long term and immediate impact as researchers from the Monash Asia Institute at Monash University discovered. In the study, those who had turmeric with their breakfast showed better working memory for six hours afterwards. Other benefits include:

Turmeric Tea Golden Milk Cinnamon Honey

  • Improved immunity
  • Soothe a sore throat and cough naturally
  • Treat indigestion
  • Reduce inflammation in the body
  • Detoxify the liver
  • Blood purification
  • Prevent chronic disease
  • Contains potent antioxidants


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