Thursday, July 5, 2018
Before she retired, my all time favorite acupuncturist used to sometimes say to me, "Josephine, House too hot!" What she meant by this is that inflammation was running high in my body. And I've heard it said that inflammation is at the root cause of all of our diseases. When a house is too hot for too long, it can be in danger of catching fire.
Inflammation is a natural body response and generally it is a good thing. It is our way of protecting ourselves against injury or infection. Our immune system kicks into high gear and floods the area of concern with white blood cells to help heal whatever has gone wrong. But when inflammation gets out of control, as it can when our blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal, it can become a real problem.
As we round the bend into older age, it is especially important to keep inflammation down in the body. This is because recent journals of medicine have cited continual high blood glucose levels as being a primary cause behind Alzheimer's disease, gradually causing our brains to loose their good function. Having our C-reactive protein levels tested in our blood is a good way for us to keep track of our inflammation levels, so that we know whether they are getting too high or not.
Many health care professionals feel that cardio vascular disease, swollen or painful joints, skin rashes, increased fatigue and even cancer can be the result of chronically high levels of inflammation. My mother used to say that cancer was the result of any constant irritation in the body. And we know that constant irritations can cause hot spots.
So, what to do about it? Cooling herbs and well placed acupuncture needles can certainly help. But I, along with many others, find that watching our diet is the surest way to quickly cool our systems down. This is because a diet high in carbohydrates contributes mightily to rising levels of inflammation.
In general, I find that fruits are wonderfully wholesome and good foods to eat. The same is true for whole grains and carbohydrate-rich vegetables like potatoes, yams, beets, beans, winter squash, turnips and rutabagas. We need carbohydrates in our diets. They give our endocrine system the energy needed for quick bursts of movement and exertion when hormones like adrenaline come into play. Diets rich in healthy carbohydrates can be wonderful if inflammation is not a problem. But if there are rising levels of C-reactive proteins causing conditions like itchy skin or cranky joints, a carbohydrate-rich diet will contribute to higher blood sugar levels and can be like tossing kindling onto to those flames.
So, when I really need to cool my internal chemistry down fast, I go on a green juice feast. In such a scenario, I'll often drink two pints or more of fresh raw organic green juice a day. The fuice from cucumbers, celery, zucchini, kale and collards along with a few herbs like parsley or cilantro will not only cleanse and cool my body, but they also pump my tissues full of good nutrition, rich in vitamins and minerals.
Bieler Broth is another beautiful way to cool down inflammation. This is a soup that was recommended by Henry G. Bieler, M.D. back in the 1950's, in his book, Food Is Your Best Medicine. He used it for helping diabetics to stabilize their blood sugars. It is made from equal parts of fresh organic zucchini, parsley leaves, celery and green beans. To make it, you cover the vegetables with water, cook them until they are soft, cool it all down and blend it. It can be stored in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to four days. It is nice taken either warm or cold. Having just Bieler Broth and good clean water for a few days, while mostly resting, can cool down many a house that has become too hot.
Another strategy that helps to lower inflammation is exercise. Burning lots of calories helps us to use up all those carbohydrate fuels before they start to smolder. A healthy lifestyle of consciously chosen foods and lots of exercise can be the golden road to keeping inflammation levels low in our bodies while giving us plenty of steady energy to burn all day long.