Sunday, July 7, 2013

Beyond Food and Fitness: Inflammation

It's a bummer when bad things happen to good dieters: weight gain, acne, need for naps, and indigestion in my case. You can go bananas trying to figure what you ate to make things go wrong.

I recently had all the things I just mentioned, and I know it wasn't diet. The same diet I normally feel good on hasn't changed recently (except for subtracting dairy). The only thing that has been different over the past month is that my TMJ was acting up from my taking my big, strong, sled-dog wannabe for walks every night. I think the continual muscle strain led to systemic inflammation.

Inflammation indicates a mobilization of your immune system; it's a call to arms. Whether the damaged tissue is a result of infection from bacterial invaders, overuse, or physical trauma, the purpose of the inflammation that ensues is to prevent additional damage and repair the damage already done.

But what starts out as a healthy response can have adverse effects if it persists for too long or spreads too far. (1)

Apparently, even a serious, one-time injury can lead to systemic inflammation. Some people get deadly inflammation with no sign of infection. It could be from their bodies releasing a lot of mitochondrial DNA into the bloodstream, and then attacking it.

In a new study, [surgeon Carl] Hauser and colleagues focused on plasma, the colorless fluid in which blood cells are suspended. They took samples of the fluid from 15 seriously injured patients who had just arrived in an urban emergency room. The samples contained a surprising amount of DNA. Specifically, the researchers found 1000 times more mitochondrial DNA—the genetic material belonging to the cell's power plants--than that seen in normal plasma. The data suggest, says Hauser, that when many cells are damaged in an injury, they release a large amount of mitochondrial debris into the blood. "That was the eye-opener for me."
The body responds to this mitochondrial DNA as if it’s a bacterial invader.(2)

Maybe lesser but repetitive injuries bring on lesser systemic inflammation, but enough to cause some problems, including acne, gastroenteritis, and weight gain, which are all associated with systemic inflammation.(3) Yes, I know it sounds nuts. But four years ago, I'd have thought everything on this blog was bonkers.

If this is the case, it's all the more reason why heavy people shouldn't force themselves to exercise. The main reasons are the studies have shown their metabolism actually goes down, and they sustain injuries to their "ankles, knees, hips and low backs."(4) If they injure or strain themselves repeatedly and it causes systemic inflammation, it will make any metabolic syndrome they have worse.

A few days ago, I stopped walking my dog and started taking her on more trips to the dog park where she can run free. I've also gone to weekly yoga classes twice, which has relieved my pain. The acne just showed up; it always takes awhile for the result of bad food or stress to show up on my skin. My middle is a little less squishy and my stomach feels better, but I'm still taking digestive enzymes.

1. It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Victory Belt Publishing, Las Vegas, 2012. Kindle Location 1218.
2. "Deadly Inflammation, but No Sign of Infection" by Lauren Shenkman, Science Now, March 3, 2010.
3. Hartwig, Kindle Location 1343
3. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. Beyond Obesity, 2012. Kindle Location 242.


Galina L. said...

Everything in our bodies is connected to the point it is unbelievable. You made a very good observation about injuries and inflammation. I guess the main thing we get grom reading blogs of similarly minded zealots is the reminder to listen to our bodies.

Lori Miller said...

Thanks, Galina.