PFTL NEWS October 2016

 WHAT INFLAMMATION DOES TO YOUR BODY (Excerpt from Health Magazine Sept 2016))

If you have ever twisted an ankle, you probably know that the puffiness you notice and the heat you feel around the base of your foot means your body has entered repair mode. The painful swelling is the body’s acute inflammatory response, when additional white blood cells, plasma proteins, and other specialized helpers rush to repair the damage. It’s your immune system’s way of remedying any problem, from sprains to infections.

The inflammation usually dies down in three to five days, when you can get on with your life like that injury never happened. But in some cases, the off switch for inflammation never gets flipped, and that’s when you start to encounter chronic inflammation. When that happens, some trigger—and often it’s hard to identify—sends distress signals even when there’s no problem to fix, so the immune system still dispatches microscopic helpers to your body’s tissues.

As they hang out there over time, they can cause damage to nearby organs. Since this is all happening internally, you don’t tend to feel symptoms of chronic inflammation until it turns into something bigger.

In particular, chronic inflammation been linked to a number of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.  More research needs to be done to determine the role that inflammation plays in these diseases (e.g. is it causation or merely correlation?), but the prevailing scientific thought is that we should try and decrease chronic inflammation. The question is, how?

Some people have genes that predispose them to inflammatory responses, which we have little control over.  Luckily, researchers are starting to uncover ways that we can limit chronic inflammation.

  1. Food – Anti-inflammatory diets are all the rage today. Foods with anti-inflammatory properties include those that are naturally fatty, naturally leafy, contain protein, and contain fiber. A number of small studies have found that foods often associated with the Mediterranean diet (tomatoes, leafy greens, nuts, fish, olive oil) reduced chronic inflammation in test subjects.  But , these findings are only preliminary and cannot be thought of as cure-alls at the moment.
  2. Supplements- Reach for a bottle of turmeric, mangosteen, or cat’s claw, and you’ll find they all tout their anti-inflammatory properties. These supplements are common parts of treatment regimens prescribed by integrative medicine practitioners. Some have found success using these supplements with patients, and an initial batch of studies backs up these claims.  But, again note , that research needs to be more substantial before drawing a direct connection between supplements and lowered inflammation.
  3. Vices – If you need another reason to ditch cigarettes, put chronic inflammation at the top of your list. Most smokers experience background inflammation for years after they quit. On the other hand, moderately intense exercise can help decrease inflammation—so now you have another motivation to get your sweat on.
  4. Future Treatments – Just a few years ago, science had a huge breakthrough in the study of inflammation: Turns out, it might come from our gut. More specifically, from our gut microbiome—the combination of bacteria in our digestive tract. Research has been conducted that found one type of bacteria prevented or halted rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis in mice. Next step: Test it on humans.

The Takeaway – While new findings about inflammation and the gut are exciting, we have more questions than answers at this point. But if you suspect you are dealing with chronic inflammation, consult a physician.

STRESS RELIEVERS TO TRY  (From Health Magazine Sept 2016))

Stress can manifest itself in numerous ways, both in the long-term and short. Whether you’re having a tough time unwinding after a long week, or you’re preparing for a big presentation, too much exposure to stress hormones can put you at risk for certain health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

But if you equip yourself with effective stress busters, you can help yourself relax almost anywhere. Try one of these methods, which will help you beat stress depending on how much time you have to spare.

1 minute: Breathe
Place one hand an inch above your belly button. Inhale for a count of four. Your belly should expand by about an inch.

2 minutes: Eat a little chocolate
One study found that eating 1.4 oz. of dark chocolate a day for two weeks helped reduce stress hormones. Or, try eating one square mindfully, without any distraction.

3 minutes: Stare at a picture of a snowflake
Or a nautilus shell, fern branch, or lightening strike. Their fractal patterns can help your mind unwind.

10 minutes: Make Art
One study found that arts and crafts helped relax people who were caring for cancer-stricken relatives. Try an adult coloring book.

15 minutes: Brew some tea
Green, black, or chamomile tea all show promise in relieving stress symptoms.

20 minutes: Get outside
Taking a walk can increase your levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps the brain deal with stress. Also, doing light activity outdoors has been shown to boost mood and energy.