Thursday, 11 May 2017

Inflammation and Exercise Revisited

I wrote about inflammation on Saturday, 8 April 2017 and Tuesday, 18 April 2017. I was telling the story that my very-low carbohydrate diet had reduced my inflammation if negligible levels and everything was under control.

Chronic Vascular Inflammation is caused by high Insulin levels in the blood.
Click Image to enlarge

You should never say things like that. It's the fruit season. There are free apples and pears and quinces. I've always enjoyed eating fruit. I wrote on the 8 April that excess fruit in the diet was probably the main cause of the chronic rash I developed in late summer 2014.

Early this month, I'm scratching at the varicose veins on my ankle. Then I had an itchy back in the shower and I used the back brush to give it a friendly rub. Why is my skin becoming itchy? It's inflammation in my body.

This didn't get serious, I acted on the warning sign. I've stopped eating fruit, and mostly the problem has gone. Not fully solved, but the inflammation is receding. Truth be known I'm also eating more than the 50g of carbohydrates I allow myself each day.

For me, not being diabetic, I can be a bit loose with my practice and I suffer very little. Insulin works, and now I might even be insulin sensitive again. So my weight is perfectly stable, at 75kg. My objective in maintaining ketosis is to minimise chronic inflammation. So; how do you do that?

If you read about reducing inflammation in the body you get conflicting information. Vegetarians are sure that the secret is to remove the meat from your diet. Vegan's go further and remove all dairy foods. I have no expertise here. I do have my own experience. There's lot of evidence that vegan and vegetarian diets are not healthy.

Suggested Anti-inflammatory Foods

We're not worried about the short term inflammation caused by exercise, or in response to infections or accidents. It's long term vascular inflammation that concerns us. If you suffer from any problem that's called xxxxitis, like arthritis, that is also caused by inflammation, and an anti-inflammation strategy should help you.

Reducing Chronic Vascular Inflammation

Let's deal with meat first. Meat in the diet does cause some inflammation, but it also has it's own anti-inflammatory properties. Net result zero, with the advantage high density nutrition.

The most damaging high-inflammation foods are omega-6 vegetable oils. That's why you should stop eating margarine and butter substitutes, and look carefully at the ingredients in sauces and dressings. Some people believe that whole grains also cause inflammation. Gluten intolerance is one example. Many people report that although they are not made sick eating gluten, they seem better if they avoid it. So perhaps many of us are a bit gluten sensitive.

A similar story exists for dairy foods. It's not normal for most species to use milk as a food after weaning. Thousands of years ago, during famine, humans who were able to use lactose in their diet had a survival advantage. That's still in our genes. Most of us are lactose tolerant and we can eat dairy food without problems. I get a bit of a runny nose when drinking milk, but nothing else. There are great nutritional advantages if dairy foods are used, but some people can't, and they will know about that.

Evidence from the Harvard Study of Adult Development

George Vaillant reports that as the men in the W.T. Grant study reached their 80's study staff anticipated that dementia would be a serious problem. That wasn't the case. Most of the men developed vascular problems which became important health concerns.

"Of 189 "healthy men" at age forty, 103 had no risk factors, and 86 had one or more." Those 86 were already well on the way to worse outcomes. Poor health is created over many years, by the life choices you make.

Of the 86, "healthy men" who were less healthy at forty, 65 were either dead or chronically ill at eighty (76%).

Dr Ted Niaman
Vegetarian Diet in his 20's
Very-Low Carbohydrate Diet at 43

In contrast, of the 103 healthy men with no risk factors, at eighty, only 45 were dead or disabled. (45%) That's much better. Refer to the Dunedin Study where the biological age of people at 38 years of age was evaluated.

It's important to note what Vaillant was measuring regarding vascular risk factors. He lists smoking (significant), alcohol abuse (very significant), high diastolic blood pressure (very significant), obesity (very significant), type II diabetes (very significant).

Vaillant says; "The main causes of early death (before eighty) are vascular factors over which we have considerable control." Good health self-care before the age of fifty is something you can do. Stop smoking, avoid excessive alcohol or drug use, watch your weight, and control your blood pressure. If you just do that, your chances of being healthy at eighty are very good, according to Vaillant.

Factors that were insignificant in leading a long life may surprise you. They include; cholesterol level, exercise, parental social class, and psychological defence's. Getting a university degree was a very significant advantage in extending one's life (adding about 4yrs). The longevity of one's parents is irrelevant for most of us. However, for the extreme groups, the top 16% and the bottom 16% of ancestral longevity, there is a significant statistical advantage or disadvantage once you are over eighty. Late in life good genes might be an advantage.

To Exercise of Not to Exercise

Walking Daily is Life Saving

There is a strong association between exercise and good physical health. Association does not imply cause. "Some things are horses and some things are carts," says George Vaillant. We might be wrong to assume that exercise is a horse.

In the Grant study, earlier good health was a good predictor of exercise at every older age. Good health at 55, was a good predictor of exercise at 60, and again at 80.

In contrast, those who were exercising at 60, correlated less well with both good health at 80 and exercise at 80. A habit of exercise throughout one's life, is helpful, but it's only significant, it's not a strong driver. In contrast, at every age good health predicts future exercise.

Before 1960, most people led quite active lives both at work and in personal activity. They didn't need to go to the gym. Doctors have been quite conservative in recommending exercise. They know that people can exercise and also be very unhealthy. But the reverse is never true, many people who are very healthy do not exercise. If Vaillant is right, these are the people who are likely to take up exercise in future.

The American NFL, give evidence of that. Players who are big people have and advantage if they are also fit. Too many successful NFL players, on retirement become very obese and die early, some before the age of 50. They were fit but not healthy.

There is value in exercise. Exercise, helps the body maintain homeostasis. Those who spend little time sitting each day have lower c-reactive protein markers. Exercise does do micro-cellular damage that causes inflammation. That mobilizes macrophage's to clean up the damaged tissues, and red blood cells, white blood cells, stem cells and platelets then repair the damage. The muscle gets bigger and stronger. Exercise also produces protective substances called cytokines like interleukin-6 which is anti-inflammatory when produced by muscle tissues.

Englishman, Prof. Jeremy Morris, studied bus drivers v ticket collectors, and postal workers comparing the postmen v office staff. His research demonstrated the exercise was protective against CVD. Morris said, "Exercise is the best buy in public health." He took up exercise himself, swimming, cycling and walking. He died at 99.

Prof. Ralph Paffenbarger in the USA, studied college alumni, and San Francisco Longshoremen. He came to the same conclusion, exercise had a powerful protective effect for one's health. At 45 Paffenbarger began to run marathons, he stopped running at 71. Five 100 mile runs and 151 marathons to his credit. He died at 84.

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