As society became more farming-based, our diet included more grains, and cattle were more likely to be grain fed. All this resulted in higher levels of the omega 6 pro-inflammatory fats. These omega 6 fats stimulated cytokines and inflammation. At this time, inflammation began to increase. This problem had been seen once before in recorded history in ancient Egypt. This civilization also had the osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases seen today.
Our current diet has continued to degenerate to where we are getting as much as 12 to 20 times as many inflammatory fats in the diet as we used to! In addition, we have a massive amount of sugar, potatoes, and white flour in our diet. This stimulates insulin resistance and release, further increasing the production of pro-inflammatory hormones (arachadonic acid) from these omega 6 fats. At the same time, our intake of antioxidants to put out these fires has markedly decreased.
What Does Modern Medicine Do about This?
Doctors give anti-inflammatories like Motrin® and Celebrex®, which block conversion of the omega 6 fats to the pro-inflammatory cytokines by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase. Unfortunately, these also block your body's ability to make anti-inflammatory messengers. This is one reason why over 16,000 Americans a year die from NSAIDs and ~ 139,000 have had heart attacks or strokes from Vioxx. We also use high dose steroids as anti-inflammatories, which used long-term, can be highly toxic. Other treatments include new tumor necrosis factor blocking medicines for rheumatoid arthritis that cost $10,000 a year. We focus on prescription medications because that's where the money is—so the pharmaceutical industry makes sure that we learn about them!
What Natural Alternatives Do We Have That Are Safer and Effective?
Substituting olive oil for other oils can be very helpful. In addition, increasing fish, nuts and seeds, berries, free range chicken and grass fed meats, spices and herbs, and green leafy vegetables (not potatoes and grains) can be a very helpful start. For more information on this, there is an excellent book you can read, The Inflammation Syndrome: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies, and Asthma by Jack Challem. In addition to this book, an excellent set of two cassette tapes will help you understand excess inflammation in more detail. Inflammation and Aging by Ronald E. Hunninghake M.D. (Tapes 1 and 2) are available by calling 1-800-447-7276.You can either pay $10,000 a year to use the new tumor necrosis factor blocking medicines for rheumatoid arthritis, or you can take fish oil and other nutrients and clean up your diet(do it in ways that taste good)! Which one do you think the drug companies will be encouraging your doctor to recommend?
Does that mean you should only eat things that you hate? Of course not. You may find that substituting a wide variety of nuts such as peanuts, cashews, walnuts, etc. for chips and sugary snacks actually tastes better. Eating more salmon and tuna is not a big deal if you like these. If you don’t like them, don't eat them. You can always add fish oil (using one, of course, that is mercury free) instead. Take 1/2 to 2 Tbsp daily. When you feel better you may be able to drop to 1 tsp a day.
When you're shopping for meat, go to Whole Foods Market, Wild Oats, Sprouts, or a similar store where you can get free range chicken and grass fed beef. Although it is a bit more expensive, it tastes much better, may not make you put on as much weight, and will save you a fortune on doctor bills. Olive oil is also tasty and can be used for frying, cooking, and instead of butter on your bread. Substitute stevia or saccharin for sugar. Use sugar-free chocolates (Russell Stover® makes a delicious line and there are now an enormous amount of yummy sugar-free options for those on the Atkins' diet). They taste just as good as foods with sugar but will not make you sick. In addition, as a general rule of thumb, the more colorful a vegetable the healthier it is. For example, sweet potatoes or carrots are a lot healthier than white potatoes. The vitamin powder will also supply extensive antioxidant support, simplifying the process dramatically.