All about inflammation and anti-inflammatory lifestyle (Part 1)

inflammation

Over the course of evolution, our bodies developed some fantastically complex and truly amazing defense mechanisms.  Jointly, they keep us safe and alive, protecting us from foreign bacterial and viral invasions, ensuring tissue regeneration and healing, cleaning up cellular metabolic debris and deactivating and destroying malfunctioning cells to limit the damage that they can inflict on surrounding tissues.

Many times, however, the same processes that are supposed to protect our bodies from harm cause greater harm when allowed to progress unchecked.  For instance, cholesterol patches originally deployed to limit the damage from vascular lesions may lead to dangerous plaque formations that elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Free radicals, the generation of which is a part of normal ATP production in mitochondria wreak havoc in large amounts – to a point of causing DNA damage. Our immune system, designed to combat foreign microbes and irritants and keep us safe, can go out of control and cause a whole range of dysfunctions – from benign allergies to serious auto-immune disorders like lupus or arthritis, when it loses the ability to differentiate between foreign invaders and host tissues.

This article will discuss yet another biological process that is a part of your innate immune system and is intended to protect you from harm, but often gets out of control and creates the opposite effect.

We are, of course, talking about inflammation.

You probably hear about it quite often – most likely in the negative context.  From doctors prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs, many popular websites talking about anti-inflammatory foods and diets, etc. – but just as in many other cases, most of these measures are trying to fight the symptom, rather than the root cause.

What exactly is inflammation and should you really fear it or fight it?  What causes it and what effects does it have on your body?  What should you do to control it and how can you minimize any negative effects?

Continue reading to find out!

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Is red meat bad? (Part II – IGF-1, risk of cancer and more)

Is meat bad for you

Let’s continue our discussion that we started in Part I and see if there really is any association between meat and cancer.

It’s different if you already have a pathology

It is often implied that high-protein diet causes damage to your kidneys by “overloading” them with nitrogen by-products of protein digestion (that they naturally metabolise and excrete) – but as a healthy individual, you will have difficulty overconsuming protein, since your body has natural regulatory mechanisms that drive the desire for protein-containing foods.  So you are unlikely to ever eat too much.

But is it correct to say that eating any amount will put a strain on your kidneys?  Should you specifically reduce protein consumption to avoid damaging them?

The answer is – very unlikely.  If you already have a kidney disease – increased protein consumption can definitely contribute to their pathology.  But if you are healthy – you probably don’t have anything to worry about (read this article by Chris Kesser).

Methionine

Meat contains a complex array of several amino acids.  One of these amino acids is methionine – and recent studies have suggested that it’s this specific amino acid that may be responsible for increased oxidative stress and the ultimate link between meat, IGF-1 (see below) and cancer.

If you recall our discussion on organ meats – you will remember that methionine is balanced by glycine – another amino acid contained in large amount in bone broth, gelatin and organ meats – which helps your body metabolize and neutralize potential harmful effects of methionine. What follows is that if you balance your intake of methionine with your intake of glycine (by consuming collagen/gelatin, organ meats, bone broth, etc.) – potential harmful effects of overconsuming muscle meat can be greatly reduced.

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Nutritional Ketosis, Part III – Health benefits: ketogenic diet, cancer and more

ketogenic salmon recipe

Let’s revisit health benefits of ketogenic diet.

In Part I and Part II you learned how effective ketogenic diet can be in shedding extra body fat and making you perform better – both mentally and physically.  You have also learned that although it does not make you hungry like some calorie-restricted diets do, strict ketosis is, nevertheless, difficult to maintain because it eliminates some of your most favorite foods and leaves a limited number of ingredients that you can safely consume without shutting down ketogenesis.

So why would you subject yourself to this seemingly restrictive practice if you do not need to lose weight?

The answer is – because ketosis has several profound therapeutic benefits.

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Genetically modified organisms: the real facts

Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are restricted or banned in more than 60 countries in the world, but happily ingested by unsuspecting consumers in the USA, Canada, China, India, Brazil, Paraguay, South Africa, Uruguay, Australia and many other countries.

Even if a country does not commercially grow genetically modified crops (like the EU, for example, that only had small-scale field trials so far) doesn’t necessarily mean that population in that country is not consuming them – with Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now in place, US may import genetically modified crops into EU (which they do).  This includes human food, animal feed, agricultural crops and products from GMO- fed animals.

What’s the big deal?  Let’s take a closer look.

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Nourishing good bacteria to improve health

bad and good bacteria

How bad and good bacteria influence everything in your life

You have 100 trillion bacteria in your gut.  This is 10 times the number of all other cells in all your other tissues combined.

You may not think much of bacteria and, in fact, try to eradicate it when you get a chance (using anti-bacterial sanitizers, soaps and shampoos to clean yourself up and gobbling up antibiotics when you get sick) – the symbiotic relationship of your gut bacteria with the rest of your biology has some people argue that we are nothing more than just vessels and vehicles for bacteria that control what we do, how we eat and how long we live – all as a part of a devious plan to ensure their survival and domination.

While this sounds a bit too much like science fiction, the reality may not be very far from it when you start considering a few facts.  We mostly think of our intestinal flora in the context of digestion problems, gas and stomach pains (and an odd yogurt advertised on TV), but it is so much more than just that.

In fact, your microbiome (gut bacteria) are responsible for a wide variety of functions, such as:

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Sun exposure, skin cancer and hidden dangers of sunscreens

It is amazing how much of public opinion on any subject is formed by marketing efforts of manufacturers and promoters of a specific product, as opposed to scientific facts.   For decades, we have been preached that sun exposure is bad and a direct trigger of skin cancer and have been advised to put on high-SPF sunscreen any time that any patch of our skin gets exposed to sunshine for any period.  We have been marketed sun blocking lotions for any age (including those that were said to be safe for infants) because- God forbid they get some sunshine on their ultra-sensitive skin!

The opinions formed by marketing and PR departments of giant manufacturers are extremely hard to change.  Even when they have very little basis and represent pure manipulation of pseudo-scientific facts for the benefit of a company offering some solution to a problem that it seems to have invented itself.  I see it all the time with people STILL trying to use awfully unhealthy margarine instead of, say, high-quality butter, because for several decades they’ve been told this is better for them and they remain oblivious to current research, debunked assumptions and inconsistencies between the results they were promised and what they actually get.  Masterful marketing seems to always trump all common sense.

Similarly oblivious to actual scientific data and common sense are people who rely on promoters of sunscreens and sun blocking lotions to educate them on “dangers” of sun exposure and kindly offer a solution.  Before you form your opinion on this, however, let’s get our facts straight, shall we?  Let’s look at what sun rays do for you (and where you’d end up if you ignore this), whether they actually cause cancer and what ingredients a bottle of sunscreen really contains.

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The Ultimate Guide to Eating Better Meat – Part II

(Continued from Part I – Buyer’s Guide)

Part II – Food safety, poisoning, and how to cook meat the right way

 

Disclaimer: 

The risks of food poisoning due to improper cooking – especially for certain susceptible groups of people – are real and consumption of undercooked food may lead to serious illness or, certain cases, death. This article does not constitute and is not intended to be used as medical, microbiological, or any other advice.  While the topics discussed in this article appear to have been researched and supported by various scientific sources, make sure you understand them and thoroughly research this topic further, prior to making any changes in your dietary habits.  Due to many variables affecting the risk of contamination, the author of this article does not guarantee that following the recommendations in this article completely eliminate the risk of food poisoning. Further, the author does not accept any responsibility for any health issues that may result from following the advice presented in this article.

Meat usually requires some sort of preparation to lower one (or all) of the following potential risks:

  • Parasitic worms
  • Viral infection
  • Plasmids
  • Prions
  • Bacterial contamination
  • Protist infection

Of all these, viral infection (led by Norovirus) remains the most prevalent in terms of the number of cases (according to estimates made in 1999 by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but these cases are usually mild and, while being responsible for about 68% of all food-related illnesses, the related death rate remains at about 7%. Even though illnesses attributed to protists amount to only about 3%, the death rate is about 20%, while bacteria, responsible for about 30% of all food poisoning are responsible for about 72% of fatalities.  These statistics make bacteria the highest-risk microorganism that may cause foodborne illnesses.  So we will make bacteria the center of our discussion.

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What is better than donating to find a cure?

Rarely a day goes by, when you don’t get bombarded by multiple calls to action to participate in some sort of an activity that is aimed to beat some sort of a bad disease.  Fundraisers, activities to “create awareness”, sales of various items where the proceeds are donated to research – the world at large seems to be constantly engaged in some grandiose charitable event.  The majority of people think It’s for a good cause – and spend countless hours running, riding, walking, climbing, rowing, shaving, singing and engaging in a lot of other activities to conquer ___________ (insert your disease of choice).

With so much collective effort spent and money raised by countless foundations established with a vaguely-defined mission of beating cancers, heart disease or stroke, we are still not much closer to doing this than, say, 30 years ago. In fact, World Health Organization predicts that the number of new diagnosed cases of cancer is expected to grow 50% by the year 2020.  Diabetes rates more than doubled in the last 20 years and some researchers predict that a whopping 40% of Americans (where the proliferation of this disease is the most serious) will develop type 2 diabetes during their adult lives.   Yet, this is a disease that is almost exclusively dependent on your diet and activity and this risk can be easily managed with a few simple rules.

Isn’t it time to evaluate if we are, maybe, not doing something right?  Are our efforts misdirected?

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