Food and Pain
If you’re in pain and your back aches, it just might have more to do with what you ate than you might think.
There is an important change in how adipose tissue has been viewed over the last few years; adipose has been put into the endocrine system. The larger those cells are allowed to grow, the greater their inflammatory response is to the body as a whole. The best way to control weight and therefore inflammation is the reduction of carbohydrates—keeping carbohydrates under 100g per day. That is not considered low carb, but rather a moderate carb diet.
Reduce all inflammatory agents, and after 30–45 days see how your pain and vitality have improved. The effort will at the very least give you a better idea of what runs you the best.
Choose your fats wisely. Consume no partially hydrogenated oils, which are found in many packaged foods. These are trans fats and have been linked to heart disease since the ’60s—no corn oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, or soybean oil. These oils did not become part of our diet until 1909. They are extracted under very high pressure, in a chemical or heat process. All are too high in omega-6s. Fats to consume are extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, or ghee (butter with milk fats removed, so there is an ability to use it at higher temperatures without burning). Coconut oil, a very unique saturated fat, is made up of medium chain triglycerides that are absorbed much more quickly into the body than other saturated fats. We want these products to be GMO-free.
Reduce all high sugar content food, especially soda. Remember we want to keep our total carbohydrates below 100 grams per day. One soda is approximately half a day’s worth of carbohydrates.
Avoid meat and eggs from grain-fed animals that are not able to graze. These products create in part a change in the type of fat in an animal. The animal ratios of omega-6s, known as linoleic acid, to omega-3s, known as linolenic acid, are out of balance. Grain-fed animals have a much higher omega 6 content. Both are essential fatty acids. (See Appendix A.)
Essential fatty acids are required for health, but our bodies cannot produce them. Your diet is the only method of obtaining these fats. What you must understand and know is that omega-6 fatty acids, for the most part, are very pro-inflammatory. You might think, “Why would my body have an essential fatty acid that promotes inflammation?” The body always prefers to be able to push or pull to maintain balance, or homeostasis. Sometimes the need to inflame is critical. For example, at the time of an infection, inflammation is there to help wall off or isolate. On the other hand, omega-3s are very strong anti-inflammatory agents, especially the longest two carbon molecules that make up essential fat. (See Appendix A for meat ratios of omega-3 & -6.) One trouble with the American diet is that the ratio has become very askew between omega-6s and omega-3s. The ratio of the hunter and gatherer was close to 1:1 omega-6 to omega-3. Today, depending on the source, the ratio is 25 or 30:1. No wonder we hurt so much. The fats we are using and the changing of farming practices have had devastating effects on our health.
Remove all grains from your diet. I am often asked why this is the bottom of the food pyramid. Today grains have been genetically modified. So the amount of protein known as gluten has been increased. This is an irritant to most guts, but to some it is a full-blown disease. Grain is high in omega-6s, which we know is proinflammatory. It is also acidic to our bodies. It contains the antinutrients lectins and phytic acid. Phytic acid reduces the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and zinc from our gut. Lectins are found in highest amounts in genetically modified grains.
Eat soy in very small quantities. Dairy should be consumed in small quantities as well. Nuts in not too large of quantities are a great source of healthy food. Remember, nuts grow on trees. Peanuts grow underground and are actually a legume. Legumes should only be consumed in small quantities; they are a very large source of carbohydrates. Seeds in general are very high in the proinflammatory essential fatty acid omega-6. The three exceptions are flax, chia, and hemp. Strong anti-inflammatory spices include turmeric, dill, oregano, coriander, fennel, red chili pepper, basil, and rosemary.
Water consumption should be approximately one half the body weight in ounces. A 100-lb. person should drink 50 ounces of water per day.
Sleep is a critical link to inflammation and weight control. It is believed that the best time for soft tissue healing is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. It is important to be down and asleep by 10 p.m. Sleep 6–9 hours per day.
In summary, give the dietary change process six weeks to make a change in your life. I know this all seems so overwhelming, but your effort will afford you a great opportunity to find out what runs you the best. If you are like my typical patients, they will cheat—and feel poorly again. The decision is yours: Is that favorite food worth your vitality?
- Try at first to get to bed by 10 p.m., or at least a half hour sooner if you are a night owl. Start the day with a large breakfast full of protein and fat.
- Your plate of food should be by volume 30% protein and 70% dark green vegetables. This will keep acid/alkaline ration in the right zone. (See Appendix B for acid and alkaline foods.)
- Add wholesome fat to your vegetables; it will help with your satiety (feeling satisfied) and slow down digestion. This gives your body a better chance to absorb micronutrients.
- Get most of your carbohydrates from dark green, leafy vegetables. Avoid the starchier ones—e.g., potatoes, corn, peas, and carrots. Eat fruits much more sparingly, especially if you are trying to cut weight. Fruit can be very high in carbohydrates; some of the best fruits to eat are berries.
- Avoid packaged food during this trial period. This will change the types of fats you are consuming. During the trial, also keep dairy, lentils, and soy to a minimum.
- The tough one: Eat no grains, including oats, barley, and wheat (to name a few). That means no pizza, pasta, breads, waffles, pancakes, bagels, and all the rest.
- Try to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If that is too hard, add 16 oz. more toward your final goal.
- Do buy grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish high in omega-3s and CLA. (See Appendix A.)
- Move your body 6 days a week at first; maybe take a short walk daily. Eventually the movement should be a stronger cardiovascular challenge and strength training.
- Lastly, it may seem odd, but proper respiration is a large part of this inflammatory response. Please see previous blog on diaphragmatic breathing.
David Seaman, D.C. – Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Paul Chek – Eat, Move and Be Healthy
Richard Bernstein, M.D. – Diabetes Solution
Chris Crowley and Hendry Lodge, M.D. – Younger Next Year
Please follow the link below for Appendix A and B as well as a list of grass-fed meat farms.