In everything we do, we are sending a message to our body to heal or to cause damage. A cause of inflammation and disease is nutritional deficiencies and the direct effect on our gene expression. Let’s broaden our view on what nutrients are. A nutrient could be the vitamins and minerals you get from a salad, or the nutritional movement you got from a walk through the woods a.k.a. forest bathing, or the quality night’s sleep you just had because you’ve been destressing with a regular meditation practice. These are all forms of nutrients. It’s not just what nutrients you are consuming or not consuming, it’s also the choices your parents, grandparents, and stretching back further than that, made that counts for us or against us. We are going for Goldilocks here, that “just right” balance to keep you from tipping the scales into chronic inflammation. It’s not easy, believe me, I know. I like this quote by Catherine Shanahan, MD from her book Deep Nutrition: “Epigenetic researchers study how our own genes react to our behavior, and they found that just about everything we eat, think, breathe, or do can, directly or indirectly, trickle down to touch the gene and affect its performance in some way. These effects are carried forward to the next generation, where they can be magnified.” The multigenerational effect on our genes can be changed by addressing how we nourish, in all ways, our physiology. Essentially, yes, you can eliminate inflammation with the right balance of nutrients, and you can also significantly reduce your risk of chronic inflammatory diseases by keeping your genes clean. We have a lot of control over how our genes act.
Nutritionally, we can find support to significantly reduce inflammation and, in a lot of cases, eliminate disease. Yep, eliminate. A focus on healing the gut, increasing microbial diversity, maintaining oral health, healing emotional traumas, and moving our bodies are wonderfully powerful. Beyond cutting out the junk food, flossing and meditating, there are certain foods that have therapeutic benefits. The list is long, and I can’t do it justice here, so I’ll mention a few major ones. First, a diet focused on quality whole foods, organic, grass-fed, free range, and as local as possible will provide the most nutrient density available. Vitamins A (preformed), D, E, K2, and C are foundational in our development, immune system, and healing. These are all best consumed from whole food sources or whole food supplements widely due to bioavailability and the added benefits of all the other nutrients we gain from consuming a whole food (the exception is vit. D depending on which part of the country you live). High quality, omega 3 fish oils reduce systemic inflammation and support the immune system. I especially like the therapeutic use of specific probiotic strains. Beneficial probiotics are friends, not foes, and they help increase microbial diversity orally and in the gut. They crowd out pathogens and can be used for host modulation of the innate immune system reducing pathogen-induced inflammation. Yes, please! Getting to the root cause of inflammation is key. Testing such as MyPerioPath® can shed light as well as working with a skilled integrative or functional medicine practitioner.
The man I mentioned in Part 1 could be you, he could be your brother, your son, your husband, your coworker, he could be anybody. What a paradox – living in a time when people are still dying from diseases that we can naturally prevent. Genetics is not a lottery and there is no luck. We are always making choices about what we put in, on, and around our bodies. Maya Angelou said it so well, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”