Tel +27 (021) 880 1444 | Fax +27 (021) 880 0291 | P.O. Box 12602, Die Boord, Stellenbosch, 7613
DR HELEN MUIRhgmuir@mweb.co.za
Helen qualified in 1982 from Stellenbosch University as a medical doctor. She worked for years in the Department of Endocrinology at Tygerberg Hospital researching osteoporosis and diabetes mellitus. She studied homeopathy while in private practice and started an integrated medical and homeopathic practice in Kenridge in 1998. Helen has a special interest in the genetics of wellness, nutrition and the integrative treatment of cancer.
LINDA BENNETT, Scenar TherapistTwitter @tracetherapywww.tracetherapy.comFacebook @tracetherapy
She is the founder of Trace Therapy based in Sea Point, Cape Town – the first therapy centre of its kind in South Africa which offers a combination of energy-based treatments, natural healing products/tinctures and spinal/organ cleansers. All these treatments are non-invasive and effective for numerous illnesses, pain relief and nerve damage. Diagnostic full body scan Metatron and live blood analysis are also available.
Low-grade systematic inflammation is known as the silent killer. We often don’t even know we are suffering from this condition as it tends to go undetected for years before it manifests itself into a chronic disease. Learn how to reduce your risk of developing inflammation and associated ills.
Many of us are plagued by chronic inflammation, thanks to our increasingly high stress levels, overmedicated lifestyles, our poor gut health and an over-reliance on processed, chemically enhanced foods.
THE INFLAMMATION AND CHRONIC DISEASE LINK
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged that chronic diseases are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world. The best way to address the health risks of chronic disease is to reduce chronic inflammation.
The majority of inflammatory diseases start in the gut with an immune reaction that can progress into systematic inflammation. Gut health is often overlooked but is such an integral part of the puzzle. New research reveals that the health of your brain is, to an extraordinary degree, dictated by the state of your microbiome.
It is important to note that to effectively manage any disease one needs to look at the core of the issue – where and when did it all start? With inflammation this can often go back 20 to 40 years!
LIFESTYLE AND INFLAMMATION
Our lifestyle is the most influential factor in determining the risk for developing chronic inflammation and disease.
In order to live a long and healthy life, we need to be conscious of what we put into our bodies. The typical western diet is the number one cause of premature death and the number one cause of disability.
Red meat, especially if it is not pasture reared, is inflammatory. Animals that are fattened in a food lot are fed grains – this increases the amount of omega-6 fat in their muscles. If the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is too high in our bodies, it results in inflammation. Early man had a ratio of 1:2 omega 3:6, but now the ratio is often higher than 1:26. As a result, the incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases such as eczema, asthma, allergic rhinitis, osteoarthritis, autoimmune diseases and cancer has sky-rocketed.
Sugar, especially added sucrose, fructose and glucose, can lead to increased levels of inflammation. Read all labels. The incidence of insulin resistance and diabetes has increased as sugar has been added to the prepared food we buy. If it has been processed, it probably contains preservatives, bad fats or sugar to make it taste good. The safest way to avoid processed food and excess sugar is to prepare your own meals. Cut all refined sugar and artificial sweeteners out of your diet.
Try and get to at least 10 000 steps a day. This will help you to keep fit and improve circulation. Use one of the apps on your phone if you don’t have a step counter. Athletes that exercise excessively are creating massive amounts of oxidation in their bodies. Take extra antioxidants if you are doing more than 45 minutes of exercise daily. I feel that cancer patients should be very careful of over-exercising.
We have been told to reduce our stress levels to increase our longevity. The hormones that are produced when we are stressed are detrimental to our health if they are chronically elevated. High levels of adrenal hormones such as cortisol in the early stages of stress can lead to abnormalities in sugar metabolism and may eventually lead to insulin resistance.
Increased adrenalin can switch on clotting factors and inflammatory cytokines that in the short term can save your life (fight or flight) but, if the stress persists, these hormones can be detrimental to your health. Find a way that suits you to address the stress levels in your life. Remember that if you are not sleeping seven to eight hours a night, your stress hormones can also be elevated.
Your body mass index (BMI) should be between 20 and 25. BMI is a good way to determine a healthy weight for yourself. Calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.
We all know that at the moment the quality of water in our country is very poor. If you are not able to purify or filter your water, make sure you boil it to kill the bugs that are in the water. If you see big particles in the water, filter it through muslin, then boil it. Some small organisms can hide in the particles and evade death when you boil the water. South Africa also uses extraordinary amounts of chlorine to purify its water, all of which we consume and absorb when using regular tap water. Personally I encourage my patients to buy a water purifier before they buy their flat-screen TV or the pram for the new baby!
(Ed’s note:see our article ‘How safe is your water?’ on page 94.)
Over and above lifestyle changes I would suggest including the following supplements.
Supplement with omega-3 (not 6 and 9) at least twice daily – make sure that it is pharmaceutical grade and free of heavy metals. Include fatty fish like tuna, pilchards, sardines or salmon twice a week (beware of farmed, grain-fed fish). If you are vegetarian, grind flax seeds and eat a tablespoon a day or eat chia seeds. Avoid flaxseed oil, it has been shown to be pro-inflammatory.
Curcumin is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories at our disposal. It works on multiple inflammatory pathways and actually supports liver health and is anticancerous. Make sure that the supplement you are using has been researched to improve absorption of the curcumin. Curcumin is not well absorbed and if a regular extract is used, large amounts are required in order to be of benefit. The curcumin supplement that contains BCM-95 is a good choice as the manufacturer has used the essential oils of the turmeric root to improve absorption. Some suppliers use piperine (black pepper) and artificial substances such as polysorbate 80, which could be harmful, to improve absorption. Check the labels. BCM-95 works quickly and effectively at reducing inflammation and in my experience the benefits can be felt within the first three days of use.
Some teas such as stinging nettle (Urtica urens) and rosemary (Carnisol) are also anti-inflammatory.
The herbal extract Boswellia (commonly known as frankincence) may reduce inflammation in those who suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.
Buchu is endemic to the Western Cape, and is one of South Africa’s most ancient and celebrated medicines. This plant has proven anti-inflammatory properties: it manages the inflammation process and wards off chronic inflammation. Buchu products can be taken to treat several inflammatory-based conditions including arthritis, gastrointestinal and urinary tract disturbances, hypertension and skin conditions such as eczema, amongst others. (Ed’s note: see our article, ‘Buchu – the fynbos doctor’ on page 86)
Black seeds (Nigella sativa) and black seed oil are well recognised as highly beneficial herbal medications. Black seeds have numerous health benefits including the ability to reduce inflammation.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring form of sulphur found in our body tissues. Supplementing with MSM supports healthy connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and muscle – it is therefore beneficial for arthritis and muscle pain.
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body to maintain the health of cartilage. It can be taken as a supplement to counteract the breaking down of joint cartilage as you age. It can also help with certain inflammatory conditions such as RA, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.
Check that they can be used with any medication you may be taking.
This extract is found in red wine and helps combat inflammation. It may also protect against cancer.
As it has been shown that many of the inflammatory diseases we suffer from are gut mediated, it is wise to take a probiotic every day. Kefir and yoghurt with live cultures can be included in your diet to provide good bacteria for the gut.
You have the power to take responsibility for your health. Prevention is better than cure so live healthily and well: In the words of Dr Wayne Pickering, naturopathic physician, ‘You are automatically healthy by design and sick only by default.’
‘Leaky gut syndrome’ or intestinal hyperpermeability can occur when the gut microvilli, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, are damaged. Undigested food particles, toxins, yeast and microbes can cross over into the bloodstream causing a host of symptoms that can include bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal cramps, food sensitivities, joint pain, fibromyalgia, mood swings, brain fog and depression.
The microvilli in the small intestine are easily damaged by the use of antibiotics and other drugs as well as the consumption of processed food, sugar, trans fats, and food additives. There are also a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites that can damage the delicate balance of the gut lining.
The digestive system hosts a community of friendly bacteria that helps break down our food, process nutrients and protect the body from invading species. Without a healthy balance within the microbiome (colony of micro-organisms), the body is left vulnerable to attack.
If you suspect you have leaky gut syndrome, have an assessment done by a naturopathic doctor or holistic medical doctor. Both of these specialists have been trained to help patients with leaky gut syndrome. Once you have a diagnosis, you can seek the assistance of a nutritionist to help set-up nutritional re- commendations.
REPAIRING THE GUT
Repairing the gut lining is a lengthy process. Often it has taken years for a person to get to the point of a health crisis and it can take many months to see a complete recovery.
A rapid reduction in many of the symptoms can occur by removing certain foods that exacerbate the condition:
■Remove all refined foods including sugar, gluten, trans fats, preservatives and food colouring. In some cases a complete removal of all grains, beans and legumes may be required. In extreme conditions all complex carbohydrates (disaccharides and polysaccharides) may need to be removed for a period of time until the gut heals. Raw foods may also be a problem at this time as they are more difficult to digest. Cooked/steamed foods as well as warm blended soups may be the only food that does not cause digestive upset until your condition is healed.
■Remove high-allergen foods such as dairy and gluten grains such as wheat, corn and soy.
■Have IgG, IgE blood testing done to help determine if you have built up antibodies to specific foods. These tests can be done through a naturopathic doctor or holistic medical doctor.
■Have Candida and parasite stool testing done. If these microbes are present in high numbers, you will need to be treated for them in order for the gut to heal. These tests can be done through a naturopathic doctor or holistic medical doctor who can also recommend treatments for these conditions.
Include naturally fermented foods such as sauerkraut and fermented carrots and radishes. These foods contain beneficial bacteria which are powerful detoxifiers capable of ridding the body of many toxins and heavy metals. These foods can often be purchased in the fridge section of your local health food store but you can also make your own.
There are several supplements that may help with symptoms.
■Include a high-dose probiotic supplement (50 billion one to two times daily). In a 2014 study the high-dose probiotic VSL#3 was found to offer the benefit of inducing as well as maintaining short-term clinical response in patients with active microscopic colitis.1 Though VSL#3 may not be available globally, products that are comparable in dose and quality can be found in many countries.
■Include a vitamin D supplement. A 2015 study showed that a significant proportion of the irritable bowel syndrome population are vitamin D deficient.2 Vitamin D deficiency has been associated or implicated with the pathophysiology of the gastrointestinal conditions inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer, as well as with depression. Consider asking your medical doctor or naturopathic doctor for a vitamin D blood test to determine your level and if supplementation is warranted.
■Include a high-quality omega-3 supplement to help heal the gut lining.
Reprinted with the kind permission of Julie Daniluk, RHN, NNCP.
Ever wondered why we are more prone to snuffles and sneezes in the autumn and winter months rather than in spring and summer? There are some simple, and interesting, answers to this question.
Oh dear, here we go again; it’s only autumn and you are already fumbling for tissues, blowing your nose, and coughing up a storm. Why, you wonder, when just last month you were perfectly healthy. The most irritating thing is that this seems to happen every autumn or winter.
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