What do broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapes, cherries, avocados and olives, as well as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies, all have in common? They are foods known for their anti-inflammatory properties. It is important to keep these foods in mind the next time you visit the grocery store. As many of you might already know, inflammation is considered a major contributor to the onset of numerous health conditions. It is now one of the hottest buzzwords in medical science, pointed to as a culprit in causing or aggravating conditions ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease.
Consuming high amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is believed to be particularly bad for you. It can lead to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity. Consuming refined carbohydrates, certain packaged foods, and processed meat can produce inflammatory effects on the body. Many non-dietary factors can also promote inflammation such as an inactive lifestyle. In short, an unhealthy lifestyle can be a fast track to chronic inflammation.
The point I am trying to make is there are a number of choices to make directly within your power that can reduce the threat of chronic inflammation. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and active lifestyle, for example, has proven effective in doing so and in improving a person’s overall health.
Inflammation is a natural process. It helps your body heal and defend itself from harm. When inflammation becomes a chronic condition however, it can lead to severe health problems. According to a recent report by Denise Grady in the New York Times, when it reaches a chronic stage, such inflammation can occur inside the body without noticeable symptoms. It can trigger an unnecessary state of hyperactivity in the body, where the immune system’s reserve capacity is thrown into overdrive. This excessive immune activity sends the wrong cellular signals to various parts of the body. It wastes a person’s energies and immune system reserves. But then, if you block inflammation, you are blocking a basic mechanism by which we are protected.
Preventing disease is not as simple as suppressing inflammation. While much of how inflammation contributes to disease is generally understood by medical science, there is a lot that remains unknown. What is known is that current treatments that call for the use of anti-inflammatory drugs come with predictable and often dangerous side effects. Every individual responds differently to anti-inflammatory drugs, based in part on their genetic makeup. Unintended side effects are sometimes not known until they occur.
The latest evidence of inflammation’s broad role in disease was recently revealed in the results of a global clinical trial of 10,000 patients who had previous heart attacks. The study showed that an anti-inflammatory drug administered to reduce their risk of further heart attacks or strokes had a surprise side effect: It also sharply reduced the risk of lung cancer. The news wasn’t all good. Because the drug suppresses part of the immune system, it also increases the risk of infections, including fatal ones. According to the report, deaths from infection appeared to match lives saved by the drug. Because of the potentially fatal side effects of the drug, as well as its high cost, many experts believe it is unlikely this drug will be widely used.
In the meantime, if you want to do something of a preventative nature to reduce inflammation, eat fewer inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods. Change your lifestyle and maybe save your life.
I am well aware of the devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Houston is within a couple hours’ drive of our Texas ranch and home. Along with millions of other Americans, we are doing what we can to help. Recovery will span many months and even years. Beyond the loss of life and catastrophic damage, a number of health hazards remain that put Texas residents at risk.
Exposure to floodwater carries risks, as this water can carry numerous pathogens, from bacteria to different viruses and fungi that can make people sick and bring on illness. Mold is common after heavy flooding and can grow relatively fast (within days, in fact). It can worsen asthma, allergies or other respiratory diseases. It is important to eliminate mold as quickly as possible to prevent potential health problems. This also applies to pools of standing water that can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can carry infectious diseases.
The entire microbiological environment in which people in the impacted areas live, both outside and inside, has been dramatically altered. If people notice differences in their health over time they should not ignore them, they should see a doctor.
As important a concern as physical injury, yet often overlooked, is the mental health impact of such an extreme weather event. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common after a disaster. Treatment needs to be sought and provided.
In declaring a public health emergency, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has already sent more than 500 personnel and tons of medical supplies to the region. The responsibility for protecting public health as we rebuild has only just begun.
Write to Chuck Norris with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at ChuckNorrisNews.blogspot.com.