Slay the Pain
By Dr. Len Lopez
Nutrition and fitness expert
Pain and inflammation are growing problems facing an increasing number of Americans. Whether the pain is a result of arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, fibromyalgia, injuries, or sports training, inflammation is at the root of the problem. Therefore, if we can reduce the inflammation, we can reduce the pain, and this can all be done in a natural way with proper diet and supplementation.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, such as Aleve, Motrin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work by reducing inflammation in the body. Unfortunately, they also irritate the intestinal lining, which creates a vicious cycle; an irritated intestinal system only further exaggerates the inflammation in your body. Cox-2 inhibitors such as Vioxx, Bextra, and Celebrex were marketed as the only NSAIDs that didn’t irritate the intestinal lining; unfortunately, that wasn’t true. They also increased the risk of cardiovascular disease to the point that many people have had serious cardiac complications and even died.
Your Personal Pharmacy
Drug manufacturers recognize the whole principle of reducing inflammation to reduce arthritis, fibromyalgia, and joint pain. But they can’t reduce the inflammation without the negative side effects. This is where diet comes into play, because the good Lord designed our bodies with the ability to make the same little drugs we spend money on at the local pharmacy.
The foods we eat can have a tremendous affect on how our bodies respond to inflammation, because the foods we eat will either trigger our bodies to produce more inflammation or trigger our bodies to produce less inflammation. Saturated fats trigger our bodies to produce more inflammation. Monounsaturated fats, the omega-3s, and the fish oils trigger more of those coveted anti-inflammatory chemicals that we spend millions of dollars on at the pharmacy. The only question is which foods do we eat more of?
Americans are eating more processed, fast foods that are loaded with saturated and trans- fatty acids, as well as more dairy, chicken, and beef. This increases the amount of inflammation in our bodies.
When we eat more nuts, seeds, and fish and cook with olive oil, we produce more of our own natural anti-inflammatory chemicals that reduce inflammation. This is why diet can be very helpful for those who suffer with arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pain, injuries, and sports injuries.
If you eat more saturated fats and not enough monounsaturated fats, you need to supplement your diet with a good fish oil to help balance the ratio of saturated to monounsaturated fats. This will help decrease the inflammation in your body. Typically, 1-2 grams of EPA/DHA should be taken daily. The big benefit of fish oils is that not only will they help reduce inflammation, but they also have shown significant benefit for those who suffer from PMS, hot flashes, heart disease, depression, and ADD/ADHD.
Aside from eating more monounsaturated fats and taking additional fish oils, there are other foods, such as chili peppers and pineapples, that work as proteolytic enzymes to breakdown the inflammation molecules. Proteolytic enzymes work differently than fish oils. They reduce the inflammation by breaking down the inflammatory molecules, whereas fish oils reduce the amount of inflammation.
Ginger, boswellia, and turmeric are herbs that reduce the inflammation process. In fact, boswellia is better known as the incense frankincense in some parts of the world. These three spices can be used in cooking or as daily supplements.
Other Sources of Inflammation
Inflammation can come from many sources besides our joints. Inflammation is also a natural response by our immune systems to protect us from bacteria, viruses, allergens, yeast overgrowth, and other foreign invaders. Obesity and excess adipose tissue will also trigger the release of additional inflammatory complexes into our bodies. Yet the greatest source of inflammation for most Americans comes from our digestive systems.
There are millions of people who constantly struggle with bloating, indigestion, heartburn, and other irritable bowel-like problems who are constantly irritating their digestive systems and triggering additional inflammation. This daily assault of inflammation in the digestive system, plus the inflammation from joints, an overworked immune system, and excess weight can easily exceed the amount of inflammation the body can effectively handle. This is why repairing the digestive system is critical in helping those who struggle with joint pain.
It doesn’t matter where the inflammation comes from. The only question is can your body produce enough natural anti-inflammatory chemicals or molecules to counteract all the inflammation that is occurring in the body?
Simple Steps to Follow
A complete protocol for overcoming joint pain and inflammation is to attack the problem from both ends. Decrease the amount of saturated and trans fats. Increase the amount of monounsaturated fats. This will reduce the amount of inflammation. Add proteolytic enzymes to break down inflammation that is not controlled by the fish oils and monounsaturated fats.
This two-step approach has worked wonders on all those suffering from pain due to inflammation. Proteolytic enzymes are also great for allergies, sinusitis, and sports injuries and training.
Most importantly, repair your digestive system. Look at adding digestive enzymes, identifying and removing ‘hidden’ food allergies, and combining your foods properly. I’ve found that when I reduced the irritation and inflammation from my patient’s tummy, the pain subsided considerably. This is simply because we reduced the total amount of inflammation floating around in their body. It’s simple, effective, and, most of all, natural.
Dr. Len Lopez is a nutrition and fitness expert and creator of The Work Horse Trainer. He speaks extensively on diet, exercise, and how stress can affect your overall health and wellness.
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