TCM View of Diabetes (Part 1)

1 Sep

Today, let us discuss another common ailment in today’s society – Diabetes. Many are intimidated by the word “diabetes” whenever their blood glucose levels shoot above the normal range of about 4.4 – 6.1mmol/L. However, it is really the complications that arise due to high levels of blood glucose in the body that is worrying.

Western medicine group diabetes into 3 main categories, namely Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. But for today, let us forget about blood glucose levels momentarily and focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine’s(TCM) view on diabetes.

In TCM, diabetes is characterised by polydipsia (drink a lot), polyphagia (eat a lot), polyuria (urinate a lot), fatigue, sweetness in urine and loss of weight in certain cases. Anyone who has a combination of at least 3 symptoms as stated above can be treated using the TCM method, whether or not their Western doctors have diagnosed them as diabetic.

Like Western medicine, we also group diabetes into 5 different groups. But contrary to their system of grouping, TCM categorises diabetes according to its cause – Heatiness in the lungs causing fluids to be lost; Severe heatiness in the stomach; Deficiency in qi and yin; Deficiency in kidney yin; Deficiency in yin and yang. Whichever the category, the root cause is a huge deficiency in yin, indicated by dryness and heatiness. Hence, in treating patients with diabetes, we have to tackle the “dryness” and “heatiness” caused by the yin deficiency and our main focus is still on the deficiency in yin. If the root cause is not eliminated, no amount of “miracle” medicine can be able to control the uncomfortable symptoms associated with diabetes.

 

Main objective for all cases: Nourish/Replenish yin and eliminate the “dryness” and “heatiness”

 

1. Lung heatiness and loss of fluid
Symptoms: Thirst, polydipsia, dry mouth and tongue, frequent high volume urination, hot flushes, high volume of perspiration.
Treatment: As this is caused by heatiness in the lungs, we will focus on clearing the lung heat and replenish the loss of fluid, thereby eliminating the symptoms.
Herbs commonly used: Radix Trichosanthis (Mongolian Snakegourd Root), Radix Puerariae, Radix Ophiopogonis (Dwarf Lilyturf Tuber), Radix Rehmanniae (Dried Rehmannia Root), Rhizoma Anemarrhenae, Lotus Root Juice, Fructus Mume, Lily Bulb.

2. Severe Stomach Heatiness
Symptoms: Polyphagia, easily hungry, thirst, polyuria, loss of weight, dry stools or rabbit/goat-like stool.
Treatment: Clear stomach heat, nourish yin and replenish fluid.
Herbs commonly used: Gypsum, Rhizoma Anemarrhenae, Fructus Gardeniae (Dried Cape Jasmine Fruit), Radix Scrophulariae, Radix Rehmanniae (Dried Rehmannia Root), Radix Ophiopogonis (Dwarf Lilyturf Tuber), Radix Cyathulae, Chinese Yam, Ginseng, Licorice.

3. Qi andYin Deficiency
Symptoms: Thirst, severe polydipsia, fatigue, loss of energy in limbs, weight loss, polyphagia coupled with loose stools or loss of appetite.
Treatment: Tonify qi, strengthen the spleen and replenish fluid.
Herbs commonly used: Astragalus, Ginseng, Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae, Chinese Yam,  Indian Buead Tuckahoe, Licorice, Radix Puerariae, Asparagus, Radix Ophiopogonis, Cranberry.

4. Kidney Yin Deficiency
Symptoms: Frequent high volume murky/milky urination, sweet urine, sore lower back and weak knees, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, dry mouth and lips, dry itchy skin.
Treatment: Nourish and strengthen kidney yin.
Herbs commonly used: Cranberry, Wolfberry (Goji Berries), Chinese Yam, Radix Rehmanniae Preparata, Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis, Indian Buead Tuckahoe, Rhizoma Alismatis, Astragalus.

5. Yin and Yang Deficiency
Symptoms: Frequent murky/milky urination, direct urination after drinking in certain cases, haggard, dry helix of ears, sore lower back and weak knees, chilly limbs, unable to withstand coldness, erectile dysfunction or irregular menstrual period.
Treatment: Nourish yin, tonify yang, strengthen kidney.
Herbs commonly used: As this is very severe, immediate medical attention is advised.

 

The commonly used herbs recommended above are only for use in cases with symptoms similar to their respective category. However, please note that each and every one of us has different body types and needs. Therefore, if you suspect that you might have diabetes or you have family history of diabetes, please do a proper health screening and see a doctor if necessary.

 

Preivew for next few posts: We will be exploring herbal soups that can help condition those with milder symptoms for each category. So please stay tuned!

Hypertension

31 Jul

Hypertension, or high blood pressure as it is more commonly known, is a familiar chronic condition in modern society. However, despite various public health talks throughout the years, it is still a rampant condition especially among city dwellers. Why is that so? Let us first explore the causes of this potentially life-threatening condition.

Hypertension occurs when the force against the walls of your arteries exceed the boundaries of normal pressure. The measurement of blood pressure comprises of 2 components – the systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, whereby the former is the measurement when the heart contracts and the latter, relaxes between beats. A person is diagnosed with hypertension when either his/her systolic blood pressure or diastolic blood pressure or both, is elevated beyond the normal range. Your chances of getting complications such as coronary heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, etc are considerably higher when your blood pressure exceeds the normal range of 120/80mmHg. Blood pressure above 140/90mmHg is diagnosed as hypertension. And anything in-between is known as pre-hypertension. Note: As older people have stiffer arteries, blood pressure around 130/90mmHg is considered normal.

Hypertension is further classified as essential (primary) hypertension and secondary hypertension. When no obvious cause of high blood pressure is found, this is called essential hypertension. Secondary hypertension occurs when the cause is identifiable or is a symptom of another ailment/condition. Common risk factors of hypertension includes:

  • Family history of hypertension
  • Excessive salt in diet
  • Consumption of too much alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetic
  • Smoking
  • High stress levels and anxiety

What is notable here, is that once you are on medication for hypertension, you often have to take the medication permanently on a life-long basis. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent and lower your risk of hypertension before it hits you. Fret  not, healthy lifestyle changes can help a lot. Reduction in sodium, sugar and fats intake and smoking, as well as managing stress and having regular aerobic exercises (at least 150 minutes per week) can lower your risk considerably.

Moving onto the TCM part, I would like to share with you some acupoints which can regulate blood pressure. These are “dual action” meridian points, i.e. when your blood pressure is high, they help to reduce it and when it falls below normal (low blood pressure), they help to increase it. Regular massages of these acupoints are beneficial to our health. Moreover, when there is an emergency caused by high/low blood pressure, such as sudden fainting and sudden uncontrollable vomitting or severe headache, these points can help the patient before more medical aid arrives.

Acupoint 1: Bai Hui (DU 20) – Situated on the middle of the head 7 inches above the centre of the back-neck hairline. To find this point more easily, place your thumbs on the upper tip of your ear (one thumb on each side), then cup your palms onto your head and situate your middle fingers in the direction of the centre line from front to back of your head. The acupoint is where your middle fingers meet.

Acupoint 2: He Gu (LI 4) – Situated at the back of the hand between the metacarpal bones of the thumb and index finger.

Acupoint 3: Xue Hai (SP 10) – Bend your knees about 90 degrees. Acupoint is on the femur 2 inches above the inner top of the kneecap.

Acupoint 4: San Yin Jiao (SP 6) – Situated at 3 inches above the malleolus (or inner ankle). NOT SUITABLE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN.

Acupoint 5: Tai Chong (LR3) – On the dorsum of the foot between the first and second metatarsus.

You’d know you have found the right location of the points when you feel weird sensations or numbness on these points. Apply pressure and massage them regularly.

Dietwise, patients with hypertension are advised to increase intake of celery, black fungus (black wood ears) and wolfberries (goji berries). They not only lower the blood pressure, they also help to improve overall blood circulation.

Healthy blood pressure can be managed if you make proper changes to your lifestyle!

TCM Weight Management – Endocrine Disorder 2

9 Jun

As promised in my previous post, I shall talk about the view of Traditional Chinese Medicine on endocrine disorder.

It is interesting to note that more and more people are turning to TCM for treatment of infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, fatigue, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other illnesses attributed to the disorder of the endocrine system. So, what sets us apart from Western medicine and what makes our treatment effective? The answer lies in the general basic theory of TCM.

In TCM, we strongly believe that the human body is a complete system; a diseased organ can affect another organ, resulting in symptoms associated with the secondary diseased organ. In addition, there is also the concept of yin and yang. Yin is everything that is related to coldness, dampness, darkness, night-time, negativity, downwards, pessimism, while yang is the opposite. I’d like to think of yin as resembling the moon and yang as taking after the sun. In an ideal body, yin and yang must be balanced. In mathematics, it means that 50% yin + 50% yang = 100% healthy body. The concept of yin and yang is not just a general concept as every organ should have balanced yin and yang too. For example, in the case of kidney, there is kidney yin and kidney yang and both forces has to be balanced for optimal kidney health. TCM works on these 2 main concepts to treat patients. Instead of just tackling the prevalent symptoms, TCM works from within to eliminate the root of the disease.

With that in mind, let us move on to discuss the different syndrome types for endocrine disorder. Depending on individual’s body types, living environment, work environment, climate and lifestyle, there are a number of syndrome types, namely (but not limited to):

1. Kidney Yin Deficiency – Infertility, erectile dysfunction, irregular menstrual period, extended menstrual periodlarge amount of menstrual blood, back aches, constantly feeling hot and air-conditioning does not help at all, flushed cheeks, insomnia, constipation or dry stools, dry mouth, dry skin, tinnitus and generally impatient or hot-tempered.
What can be done: In most cases, yin deficiency is caused by sleeping late. Thus, it is important to sleep earlier, ideally by 11pm. Avoid fried and oily foods. In terms of diet, it is advisable to incorporate pears, apples, winter melon, American ginseng, ophiopogon (mai men dong), trichosanthin (tian hua fen) and adenophora (sha shen) into your diet.

2. Kidney Yang Deficiency – Infertility, erectile dysfunction, frequent occurance of wet dreams, irregular menstrual period with larger lapses in-between, menstrual cramps, puffiness, general feeling of coldness that even the wearing of more clothing or blanket does not help, back aches, weakness in the knees, soft stools or frequent diarrhoea, bloatedness, tiredness, edema and general negativity or pessimism.
What can be done: Avoid cold food and drinks including raw items. It would be beneficial to soak your feet in lukewarm – hot water before sleep every night. It is also advisable to wear slippers and socks at home. Diet wise, consider stocking up on mangoes, honeydews, Korean ginseng and black beans.

3. Kidney Yin and Yang Deficiency – Symptoms are a combination of 1 and 2.
What can be done: Resolve and make it a habit to sleep by 11pm everynight. Keep your feet and back warm by not exposing them to direct blowing of air-conditioning or fan. Soak your feet in lukewarm – hot water every night before bed and remember to wear socks to sleep. As for diet, it is advisable to keep your diet simple and basic, as well as easily digestible. As this is more complex than the other sydrome types, please approach your physician for a list of foods to eat/avoid.

4. Congestion of Flow of Qi and Blood – Infertility, erectile dysfunction, irregular menstrual periods, serious menstrual cramps, obvious blood clots in menstrual blood, PCOS, migraines with fixed spots, bad tempered, impatient, pronounced mood swings.
What can be done: In most cases, this is attributed to the liver. Hence, it is important to stay away from alcohol and drugs. Refrain from late nights. Avoid fried and heaty food. In terms of diet, consider incorporating orange peel, olives, radishes, carrots, bupleurum (chai hu) and herbaceous peony (shao yao).

5. Deficiency in Qi and Blood – Infertility, erectile dysfunction, low libido, amenorrhea, slight but extended menstrual cramps, pale face, extreme tiredness and fatigue which do not go away even after sleeping for long periods of time, dizziness/dizzy spells, low blood pressure, general passiveness.
What can be done: Ensure adequate rest and refrain from physical demanding work whenever possible. Consider adding dark cherries, orange peel, olives, beet root, purple cabbage, ginseng, angelica (dang gui), long gan, acanthopanax (ci wu jia), polygonum multiflorum into your meal plans.

Please always keep in mind to seek professional medical attention when you have the above-mentioned symptoms. In all cases of endocrine disorder, avoid consuming royal jelly, large amounts of honey, farm-raised poultry (more specifically poultry which have been injected with growth hormones) and carbonated drinks.

TCM Weight Management – Endocrine Disorder 1

30 May

In this post, I’d like to highlight one of the most understated causes of weight gain – endocrine disorder.

Most people believe that weight gain is caused by inappropriate diet and inadequate exercise. This is, of course true, especially in our present society and developed countries where over-nutrition is a cause of many “affluent” diseases. However, what if you have been following the right diet and exercise, but yet is still unable to lose those extra pounds or even gaining more weight? Something is clearly not right. Some start to question the said “diet plan” and may even substitute it with “crash diet plans”. This will only worsen your condition.

In my clinical practice, I have seen many patients who have tried all kinds of weight loss programmes but are still gaining weight. During the consultation session, many have revealed that if it doesn’t work this time, they are just going to totally forgo the whole idea of weight loss and resign to “fate”. Yet, when I probe questions with regards to their other seemingly unrelated symptoms, the puzzle starts to piece together. Yes, they are suffering from endocrine disorder.

So, what exactly is endocrine disorder? Endocrine disorders are diseases related to the endrocine glands of the body. The endocrine system produces hormones which in turn help to regulate bodily processes such as breathing, weight control, digestion, sexual functions and fertility. Any hormonal imbalance will cause diseases related to the corresponding organ. Weight gain is, in such cases, one of the warning signals from the body.

Endocrine diseases related to weight gain include, but are not limited to, diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, infertility and sexual dysfunction. Other than weight gain, they also display other symptoms accordingly. But many a times these symptoms seem “normal” to the patient as they are either relatively mild or have been there long enough for the patient to think they are normal. Please take a look at http://www.localhealth.com/article/endocrine-disorders/symptoms for a list of symptoms.

Today, I would like to discuss more on TCM’s views and aspects on weight gain due to endocrine disorders.

In order to treat or prevent endocrine diseases, we need to examine the causes and avoid them:
1. Physiological Factor: This includes physical constituition by birth and hereditary factor.
2. Nutritional Factor: The human body needs all types of nutrients in order to function optimally. Lack of adequate nutrients due to picky eating causes derangement of the endocrine system.
3. Emotional/Mental Factors: Anxiety, stress, flutuating and extreme mood swings, as well as depression all results in tension in the body which in turn affects the nervous system. When the nervous system is affected, there will be irregularity of the secretion of hormones, thereby causing endorcine diseases.
4. Environmental Factors: Air pollution, food pollution etc all have a negative effect on our endocrine system.

Telltale signs of endocrine disorders which you can check on your own usually include bad temper, bad skin conditions, weight gain, irregular menstrual periods, menstrual cramps and  hyperplasia of mammary glands (tenderness of breasts). Therefore, if you have unexplainable weight gain and difficulty in weight loss together with the above symptoms, please seek a professional doctor for a thorough physical examination and blood test to diagnose/eliminate endocrine disorders.

Remember that weight gain may only be a symptom to a much more nasty condition! Weight loss can only be acheived if the root cause is eliminated!

Ps: In the next post, I will talk about TCM syndrome types related to endocrine disorders and what should/can be done.

TCM Weight Management – The Food

26 May

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is important to stick to a NORMAL diet with REAL food guided by the Food Pyramid. You should never starve yourself especially if you’re trying to lose that extra pound on the scale. Starving yourself or embarking on some “special” diet programmes would only make you miserable and depressed, while wreaking havoc to your metabolism and bodily functions. In managing your weight, you would want a faster metabolism so that your fats can be, well, metabolised smoothly. Moreover, when your body is in starvation mode, it tends to pull an alarm and start storing fats, making your goals harder to achieve.

Today, I would like to introduce 2 food items which are easily available in Singapore. These foods are touted to boost weight loss. I’d like to call them “super foods” due to their “superb” weight loss functions. You can easily incorporate them into your daily diet! (Ps: Follow the proper Food Pyramid and not eat these at every meal. Remember, moderation is key!)

1. Winter Melon (also known as Wax Gourd)
Unknown to most people, winter melon is actually a herbal medicine frequently used by practitioners. With it’s excellent diuretic properties, it is commonly used to treat Edema and swollen faces or limbs caused by dampness in the body. Low in staurated fat and cholesterol, this super food is high in dietary fibre, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, beta-carotene, thiamin, magnesium, zinc, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin K. According to Self Nutrition Data’s website at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2720/2 , winter melon is given a rating of 4.5/5 for it’s weight loss properties.

2. Bamboo Shoot
This refreshing vegetable is not just delicious, it is also one of the best foods for weight loss. However, it is not always readily available in our local markets. It is given a 5/5 rating for it’s weight loss properties on Self Nutrition Data’s website at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2322/2 . Being extremely low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol, the humble bamboo shoot is high in protein, amino acids, dietary fibre, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin C. In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat swollen bodies.
*** However, please note that people with Nephritis, Urinary Tract Stones and Gastric Ulcers should AVOID consuming bamboo shoots due to their mild inflammatory factor.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if you could make use of both of them to make into a healthy dish as part of your meal? Below is a recipe for you.

Winter Melon Bamboo Shoots Make-Me-Slim Soup

200g soya beans, soaked and ready to use
1 chicken breast or 250g lean meat
500g winter melon, with skin on and cut into cubes
300g bamboo shoots
10g mushrooms, soaked and sliced
500ml water
1 thumb sized ginger
salt and pepper for seasoning, according to personal preferences

1. Poach the chicken breast or lean meat in boiling water for about 3 minutes to get rid of any unpleasant smell or taste. Discard water.
2. In a pot, put in the soya beans and mushrooms with 500ml of water. When the water has come to a boil, put all the other ingredients including the slightly poached chicken or meat in.
3. After the water comes to a boil again, lower the heat to low-medium heat and let it simmer for 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
4. Eat the ingredients (excluding the skin of winter melon) and drink the soup.

This is such a fast and simple dish that everybody can make with minimal effort. And best of all, it is delicious!! Be on the express track to an ideal body!!

TCM Weight Management – The Diet Q & A

23 May

I am here today to address some burning questions which are being repeatedly asked in my course of work. I hope it helps you! If you have any questions of your own, please feel free to post a comment.

Q & A Session:

1. Can I eat salad?
In TCM, there are many reasons as to the cause of obesity. Generally, it is not advisable to eat RAW salad. According to TCM theories, RAW foods constitute to dampness in the body and they are mostly cooling in nature. Hence, it is better to consult your physician as he/she is able to give you a more accurate diagnosis of your condition. If, for some reason, you must eat salad, replace the dressing with no dressing, or a natural citrus fruit juice dressing or non-fat yoghurt.

2. How about fruits?
Fruits are great foods as they are loaded with lots of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, anti-oxidants and fibre. Because of their high fibre content, they help to produce a sense of fullness as well as regulate bowel movements. However, do note that fruits are generally high in sugar content, so EAT IN MODERATION!! Please refer to 1 for TCM views.

3. My favourite food is bread, it is less fattening than rice right?
Bread are made of flour which is complex carbohydrate. It is not true that bread is less fattening than rice. If your favourite food is bread, you should opt for high-fibre whole grain or whole wheat bread instead. As for rice, opt for brown rice.

4. Why is it that I only eat lots of fresh vegetables without dressing but yet I still gain weight? What is wrong with my body?
As mentioned in 1, there are many causes of obesity according to TCM theories. Maybe your obesity is caused by dampness and coolness in the body and eating raw vegetables will only add on to the dampness and coolness, resulting in weight gain. Therefore, it is highly advisable for you to arrange a proper full consultation with your physician.

5. Can I drink milk and eat cheese?
Unless you are lactose intolerant, of course you can! Milk and cheese are great sources of calcium. However, choose fat-free/low-fat/skim milk and fat-free/reduced-fat cheese. In addition, consume the non-flavoured original options. Flavoured milks and cheeses are “traps”. They are laden with tons of sugar and other food additives (Yes, even if they have the “low fat” sticker).

I’d like to add on that there really are many causes of obesity, such as endocrinic disorders, liver problems and stress. So please consult a trained personnel before embarking on special meal plans.

* If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment here or email to me.

Real Natural Food to a Healthy You

19 May

The following is an article by Dr Dwight Lundell, a heart surgeon with 25 years of experience. (Extracted from Ezen Ho’s Facebook Wall) Please cut down on processed foods and get back to REAL NATURAL UNPROCESSED FOODS!! Like the saying goes, “if your grandmother doesn’t recognise it, don’t eat it“.

Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease ~Dr. Dwight Lundell >We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here… it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well, smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

 

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

 

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

 

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding.  You kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

 

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

 

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

 

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

 

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

 

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

 

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

 

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

 

Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6′s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell — they must be in the correct balance with omega-3′s.

 

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

 

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

 

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

 

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

 

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

 

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.

 

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

 

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

 

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

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