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Alkaline diet and chronic inflammation.

Alkaline diet and chronic inflammation.

At some point you may have seen some tidy picture on social media of “alkalizing foods” without any proper explanation of what that even means. Or maybe you saw one about making the body more alkaline, either way these pictures offer very little technical information and/or explanation. So what exactly makes a food alkaline? Lemons should throw people for a loop because we know lemons are acidic right? But its still typically listed on the food pictures. High mineral content is what determines whether or not a food is considered “alkalizing”. That doesn’t necessarily explain why or how it helps. Especially since it is physically impossible to change the pH of your blood without killing yourself (I have no fucks to give about what the damn picture said). Here is a video:

Our bodies are EXTREMELY determined to maintain that narrow pH range in our blood. If our diet lacks the minerals and other resources we may need to do this then it will be pulled from places like our teeth and bones. This obviously can lead to weak bones and teeth, in addition to that our other organs may also become depleted depending on how bad the deficit is. Over time this leads to chronic inflammation which has some serious consequences for our health.

Not all inflammation is bad however. Short term inflammation activates our immune system to build, repair, or fight off invaders. Bee stings and colds are examples of short term inflammation. Allergies are the short term inflammation response gone waaaaay overboard. Long term or chronic inflammation however is not so friendly. It depletes the body of resources and on top of that, when the immune system doesn’t have a target it will find one within the body when chronic inflammation is an issue. When the immune system attacks our own bodies we call that an autoimmune condition, the technical definition according to thefreedictionary.com is:
“disease associated with the production of antibodies directed against one’s own tissues.”
Some of the specific risks known to be associated with chronic inflammation include cancer, heart disease, and age related diseases. I’ve given a few studies below.


Multiple Associations Between a Broad Spectrum of Autoimmune Diseases, Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Cancer

“Background: Many recent studies suggest the immune system plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Materials and Methods: Literature published between 2001 and 2011 was reviewed for risk of cancer development in patients with autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. Mode of risk assessment employed did not limit inclusion of studies. Autoimmune conditions developing after diagnosis of a pre-existing cancer were also considered. Results: We report a pervasive, largely positive association between 23 autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and subsequent cancer development. We discuss associations for celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis in detail. We also address the less frequently reported development of some autoimmune conditions within the course of some malignancies, such as vitiligo developing in the course of melanoma. Conclusion: Evidence demonstrates that chronic inflammation and autoimmunity are associated with the development of malignancy. Additionally, patients with a primary malignancy may develop autoimmune like disease. These relationships imply a need for surveillance of patients on immunomodulatory therapies for potential secondary disease processes.”

Arterial Stiffness in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases

“Chronic inflammatory diseases are associated with premature atherosclerosis; however, it is unknown whether arterial stiffness is increased in this setting, possibly as a manifestation of vascular disease preceding and/or independent of atherosclerosis. Carotid ultrasonography and radial applanation tonometry were performed in 101 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, 80 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and 105 healthy control subjects. The 3 groups were comparable in age, gender, and carotid artery absolute and relative wall thickness. Atherosclerotic plaque was more common in lupus (46%) and rheumatoid arthritis (38%) patients than in controls (23%) (P<0.003). Although control subjects had higher central and peripheral blood pressures, arterial stiffness was increased in patient groups compared with controls (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, controls, respectively: β: 3.36 versus 3.22 versus 2.60, P<0.001; Young’s modulus: 441 versus 452 versus 366 mm Hg/cm, P=0.004; Peterson’s elastic modulus: 278 versus 273 versus 216 mm Hg, P<0.001) after adjustment for differences in mean brachial pressure. In multivariate analysis involving the entire population, arterial stiffness was independently related to age, serum glucose, and the presence of chronic inflammatory disease. In multivariate analysis restricted to the patients, arterial stiffness was independently related to age at diagnosis, disease duration, serum cholesterol, and C-reactive protein (and IL-6, when substituted for C-reactive protein). When analyses were repeated in the 186 study subjects without carotid plaque, arterial stiffness remained significantly elevated in patient groups after adjustment for differences in age and mean brachial pressure. In conclusion, arterial stiffness is increased in chronic inflammatory disorders independent of the presence of atherosclerosis and is related to disease duration, cholesterol, and the inflammatory mediator C-reactive protein and the cytokine that stimulates its production, IL-6.”

Chronic Inflammation (Inflammaging) and Its Potential Contribution to Age-Associated Diseases

“Human aging is characterized by a chronic, low-grade inflammation, and this phenomenon has been termed as “inflammaging.” Inflammaging is a highly significant risk factor for both morbidity and mortality in the elderly people, as most if not all age-related diseases share an inflammatory pathogenesis. Nevertheless, the precise etiology of inflammaging and its potential causal role in contributing to adverse health outcomes remain largely unknown. The identification of pathways that control age-related inflammation across multiple systems is therefore important in order to understand whether treatments that modulate inflammaging may be beneficial in old people. The session on inflammation of the Advances in Gerosciences meeting held at the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging in Bethesda on October 30 and 31, 2013 was aimed at defining these important unanswered questions about inflammaging. This article reports the main outcomes of this session.”

Maybe another video will help.

Chronic inflammation can be reduced by identifying irritants that are in your daily life. These may be found in your diet, your personal grooming products, or products for your home. One way to identify dietary irritants is to ask your doctor for a “skin prick test”. Your doctor will then refer you to an allergy specialist who can do the test. Skin prick tests are much more accurate than a blood test for allergies and sensitivities. Once the irritants are removed we can further reduce inflammation by increasing the overall mineral content in our diets and consuming herbs with known anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric. If you opt to take any herbs make sure you double check for any drug interactions! Autoimmune conditions are not the only possibility when dealing with chronic inflammation. There is a growing body of evidence that is implicating chronic inflammation with most if not all major diseases. Cancer, heart disease, even Alzheimer’s is being connected to chronic inflammation. The hard part is figuring out if you have or are at risk for this. One way is to list on paper, any family members with autoimmune conditions and/or serious diseases. Another list would be lifestyle choices that you know are not healthy such as smoking. One more list would be to go through your fridge and cupboards and look at how much of your food comes out of a box, or is otherwise processed rather than fresh. Don’t let this concept turn you into a ball of stress because that won’t help. Just breath and make the lists. If you feel that you are high risk you can start making a plan of action for your health and your family (if applicable). For myself I started with diet by drastically cutting down sugar intake. Then I went through my home, room by room and started reducing irritants in the home.

Citations

  1. Arterial Stiffness in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
  2. Multiple Associations Between a Broad Spectrum of Autoimmune Diseases, Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Cancer
  3. Stress, chronic inflammation, and emotional and physical well-being: Concurrent effects and chronic sequelae
  4. Chronic Inflammation (Inflammaging) and Its Potential Contribution to Age-Associated Diseases
  5. Chronic Inflammation in Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome

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