Saturday, 8 April 2017

Fighting Inflammation in the Body

The authors of "The Modern Nutritional Diseases," Alice and Fred Ottoboni write; "The broad underlying cause of all noninfectious diseases that are now epidemic (in modern communities) is chronic inflammation. All of these diseases have the same underlying cause; long term, low-level inflammation, brought about primarily by unhelpful diet."

Hives over my back. Itchy skin.
This problem lasted a year, 2014-2015. I'm sure it was caused by my "healthy diet," in this case eating far too much fruit. It took me a long time to "discover" that.
Three years ago I got quite sick, with a rash all over my body. I couldn't sleep in a warm bed. I couldn't resist scratching, until the skin started to bleed. The rash that the doctor called hives, occurred all over the body. It was worse at night, one factor that made me think it was related to my diet.

Sometimes it was so bad I didn't want to leave the house. In public resisting scratching was a burden.

My doctor said it was caused by an over-reactive immune system. That I'd never find out what caused it. One day it would go away as strangely as it came about. In one sense he was right about that, although it was about a year, before that happened. This was the first time I became aware of what generalised inflammation could be like.

Elimination to "discover" a Healthy Diet

I was convinced that my diet was causing the problem. There's a list of foods people are often allergic to, and I tried to eliminate those foods from my diet. With no effect. Many months later, when I tried gluten free (an idea I rejected for a long time), there was some improvement. By now my diet was quite restricted, and I tripped over the Banting Diet idea. Low-carbohydrate. I was almost there. "Cut out all grains and potatoes and eat less fruit." I could do that.

The result was a surprise. The rash went away and I began to lose weight quite quickly. I now think that the fruit I was eating, fruit I thought was "healthy," was the main dietary cause of my rash.

But I struggled with the new diet. Low-carbohydrate, is half of the story. For energy, on a low-carbohydrate diet you MUST eat a lot of fat. It took some months for me to learn that lesson. I experimented with coconut oil and olive oil. I ate quite of lot of coconut flesh. But in the end the best answer is the natural fat on the meat and lots of delicious butter.

Weight Loss Without Effort

Dr Jeff Volek has done a feeding experiment lasting five months where people only ate the meals supplied from the research kitchen. The group began in a very low carbohydrate diet (50g a day). There was a three week lead in period, so the subjects were already in ketosis to begin with.

Every three weeks the diet changed, but the calories in the diet were held constant. In six stages the carbohydrate in the diet was increased. The six steps were: 50g, 83g, 130g, 180g, 250g and 346g of carbohydrate per day.

Briefly, on less than 130g of carbohydrate a day, most people lose weight. From 130g to 250g of carbohydrate a day weight trends to be stable. Above 250g of carbohydrate a day weight tends to increase. So to lose weight you need to eat less than 130g a carbohydrate a day. But, if you get that amount down to 50g a day you'll be in ketosis and the weight loss will be more rapid and you'll fuel your body with ketones, rather than glucose.

Depending on your metabolism, somewhere between 130g and 50g of carbohydrate a day, there is a switch of metabolism from glucose burning to ketone burning. This switch takes a little time to settle in, seven to twenty days, perhaps longer if your diet is erratic. In the same way once ketosis is established, you tend to stay there unless you break the restriction several times.

There are two ways to do a very low carbohydrate diet. Choose not to be in ketosis. Eat about 130gm of carbohydrate a day, and have more carbohydrate options in your diet. Or, bite the bullet and keep you carbohydrates very low, aiming for 50gm a day. Being in ketosis will reduce the inflammation in your body, and you'll feel better for that.

Disseminated Vascular Inflammation

Dr Tim Noakes argues that type two diabetes is "disseminated vascular inflammation" caused by an excess of insulin in the blood vessels over a long period of time. When the arteries are inflamed in this way the smallest blood vessels are destroyed, and larger blood vessels develop problems in their walls. This might be the beginning point for a build up of materials in the cell wall that partially obstruct the flow of blood.

Like most things that happen in the body, normally inflammation is tightly controlled. For instance when glucose is oxidized in the mitochondria, free radicals, or more correctly reactive oxygen species are produced. Simultaneously the anti-oxidants to control that release are also made.

However if your system isn't functioning well ROS are not controlled and damage to your tissues will occur. This sort of damage is typical of the aging process in the body.

Varicose Veins Improving

The following result is quite unexpected.

I've had varicose veins all my life. My mother had them badly. I've had six previous operations and some other treatments over the last 40 years. Today those operations are not available under the public health service. Back in 2013, because of the ulcer, my doctor and I were discussing future surgical options. I needed to start building a fund to pay for that surgery.

I had always believed that varicose veins were caused by faulty valves, and that it was a simple, incurable mechanical problem. Hence the surgical solution was obvious, even if it only worked for 10-15 years.

Early in 2016, I changed to the Banting diet. Two key things happened. I lost almost 20kg, and because I'm in ketosis most of the energy my body uses comes from ketones. There is very little surplus glucose in my body, and insulin levels are always low.

I think that as a result of my diet, the amount of inflammation in my blood vessels has gone down, apparently to zero. The photographs tell the story. Somehow those faulty valves seem to rediscovered their power. Not perfectly, because I still have varicose veins, but today there is no sign of that ulcer, although you can see where it once was.

Which leg would you prefer to have? The 2013 version or the 2017 version?

Leg swollen, painful to touch, itchy at night. Ulcer. Considering surgery.
My left ankle 2013. (About 50% full size.)
My ankle was sensitive to pressure, and often itchy during the night. You can see that the leg is full of fluid, swollen, and the veins are under pressure. Half way up the image, above the ankle bone, there is a wound from an ulcer not fully healed yet (now 6mm across), after three months of healing. It had been six times that size. Notice the blueness of the veins under the ankle bone.
Swelling gone. No pain or itchiness. No sign of the ulcer returning.
My left ankle 2017. (About 50% full size.)
My ankle isn't very pretty, but it's in much better health. Notice first that the swelling has gone, and while there is still some pressure in the veins it's not nearly as great. The ropes of expanded blue veins, that used to cross my feet have gone. The ankle is no longer sensitive to pressure and the itchiness has gone.

What is Inflammation

Sometimes inflammation is obvious – it causes redness, warmth, and/or pain. Inflammation in the body is a normal and healthy response to injury or attack by germs. We can see it, feel it and measure it as local heat, redness, swelling, and pain. This is the body's way of getting more nourishment and more immune activity into an area that needs to fend off infection or heal.

However, chronic inflammation can be invisible and silent. Chronic inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular diseases. ... Because the cytokines that respond to these insults are in the bloodstream, they can lead to systemic inflammation. Inflamed blood vessels and growing fatty plaque can cause blockages and blood clots, which can cause heart attacks.

Inflammatory skin diseases are the most common problem in dermatology. They come in many forms, from occasional rashes accompanied by skin itching and redness, to chronic conditions such as dermatitis (eczema), rosacea, hives, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Skin inflammation can be characterized as acute or chronic.

Eating foods to which you are allergic causes inflammation which makes your adrenal glands secrete hormones which destabilize your insulin and blood sugar levels. ... Thus, food allergies can lead to weight gain, and a high amount of body fat can promote inflammation and exacerbate problems with allergies.

Three years ago, when my body was highly inflamed, but I didn't understand that language. My hives reaction was chronic (long lasting), and sometimes acute. That condition is technically called chronic idiopathic urticaria. My doctor offered me a cream to reduce the itching and antihistamine tablets.

Inflammation Laboratory Test

Recently at my request, my doctor ordered a C-reactive protein (CRP) test for inflammation. The result was negative. My doctor said that there was medical interest in inflammation, but the test wasn't done very much because nobody knows what to do if the test is positive.

I think I have the solution. Eat a diet that allows you to be in ketosis. When you body burns ketones, it produces very few inflammatory ROS, and your vascular system will become less inflamed.

Usually inflammation is fairly obvious anyway but there are three laboratory tests for it. C-reactive protein (CRP) is one common test for inflammation. The level of CRP increases when you have certain diseases which cause inflammation. CRP can be measured from a blood sample.

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