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With so many patients and friends asking me about aches and pains in their neck, back, shoulders, knees, etc… I have decided to offer some guidelines for you to follow to help maintain healthier inflammation levels throughout your body. 

Research is showing with increasing clarity that many common diseases of aging are intimately associated with a hyper-inflammatory state. These include: heart disease, arthritis, myalgia (muscle pain), atherosclerotic plaquing in arteries, many cancers and age related cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s disease. 

With the above in mind, the pursuit of healthier inflammation levels seems to be a worthy goal. 

Keep in mind that some inflammation is normal and good.  For instance, I recently sprained my ankle playing basketball.  It swelled up, became red and hot and then turned various shades of black, blue, purple and green.  This was a normal appropriate healing response.  The inflammation subsided over the course of a few months as my ankle healed.   However, when inflammation is inappropriate it does not subside.

When we have inflammation at appropriate times, that subsides after the injury or infirmity is resolved, it is normal.  However, when we have ongoing inflammation, for prolonged periods of time, in an area or throughout our bodies, this is an abnormal state, and can lead to pain and disease.

We can control inflammation by using NSAIDs, however they have serious side effects.  On the other hand, we can effectively control inflammation in our bodies by making better nutritional choices.

First the "Dont's"

 1) Don't eat too much junk food.  Minimize your use of junk food, especially any food which is high in sugar or deep-fried. 
 2) Don't eat trans-fats.  Minimize or eliminate trans-fats or partially hydrogenated fats from your diet.  There are no safe levels of these fats and most researchers consider them to be the most dangerous foods of all.  These include most types of purchased donuts, muffins, chips, candy, cakes, french fries and the like, along with margarine and vegetable shortening.
 3)  Don't eat excessive amounts of saturated fats.  Minimize your use of saturated fats found in butter, cheese, meat, cream, whole milk (substitute 1% or skim) and chicken with skin (remove the skin prior to cooking), as well as palm kernel.

 4)  Avoid omega-6 fatty acids as much as possible.  Reduce your use of omega-6 rich vegetable oils like: corn, sunflower, safflower and cottonseed (for more on this subject see my article: Is Fish Oil Really That Important?).

 5)  Don’t overdo the alcohol.  If you do drink, enjoy your alcohol in moderation.  Red wine is best (high in positive phytonutrients).

Now for the "Dos"

 1) Do take fish oil.  Let me repeat that more emphatically. Take fish oil!!  Use only molecularly distilled varieties, high in omega-3’s.  These are the only type that you will find on this web site. Make sure your fish oil supplies between 1000 and 2500 mgs of EPA and DHA per day. Feel free to add or substitute the newer Krill Oils as some of research on Krill Oil is stunning. 

 2) Do use extra virgin cold pressed olive oil as your main oil especially when cooking. You can also use: other types of cold pressed olive oil, flax oil, expeller pressed canola oil, and high-oleic versions of sunflower or safflower oil (non-gmo please).  Always look for organic varieties if possible.

 3) Do eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables (choose organic whenever possible).  They are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  Shoot for all the colors of the rainbow.  The brighter, deeper and darker the better.  Women shoot for 7 servings while men should shoot for 9 servings per day.  Fruits and vegetables help to balance inflammation levels in your body.  If you don’t feel that this number of servings is possible, use a scoop of one of my phytonutrients drinks every day.  They are made with the most nutrient dense super fruits and vegetables and are a great way to insure that you are getting enough phytonutrients.  See: Triple Greens, Organic Triple Greens, Super Reds or Perfect Purples.

 4) Do try to drink tea rather than coffee.  The best choices are white, green or oolong tea as they are less processed with higher antioxidant potential then black tea.  My favorite Green Tea is Chinese Flower Green Tea, Flowers & Lemon, by Harney and Sons, which you can find at Starbucks.

 5)  Do take a good multi-vitamin, multi-mineral daily.  I take The Perfect Multi Super Greens by Purity Products.  It has a full 2000 IU of vitamin D, which is especially important in the winter (less conversion by the skin from sunlight).  He has also included many fruit and vegetable extracts for superior antioxidant protection (5000 ORAC).

 6) Do indulge in dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa content as your dessert.  It’s high in healthy phytonutrients (not too much please as it is also high in calories).

 7) Do drink lots of clean water.  Drink HALF your body weight in ounces of water per day (ie: a 150 lb. person would drink 75 ounces per day).  Tea, seltzer water, sparkling water and very diluted fruit juices are fine choices as well.

 8) Do aim for 35 grams of fiber per day.  This will happen if you increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.  You can also utilize a fiber supplement.

Adopting these changes will have a dramatic, positive impact on your health and help to control inflammation throughout your body.  You don’t have to make all of these changes at the same time.  Then again, the more of them that you do utilize, the better off you will be.  You might try picking the 2 or 3 that seem easiest for you.  After you have successfully worked them into your daily routine, pick 2 or 3 more, etc…

Dr. Neil Levin
Chiropractor practicing in East Northport, NY
(631) 651-2929