Falling into Gold
Inflammation is at the crux of all chronic disease. Although a healthy level of inflammation functions as a beneficial signal in the body, excess inflammation wreaks havoc on your health. Inflammation over a long period of time, referred to as chronic inflammation, is a large contributing factor in many of the most common disease processes of our time.
We are all familiar with what inflammation looks like from a superficial level. You may cut your skin and notice redness, or heat, emitted from the wound. If you don’t take good enough care of it, you may find that puss will be buildup and it may become increasingly painful. This is a classic expression of acute inflammation. When this happens internally, however, this classic picture is often lost. While long standing, chronic inflammation may be a product of acute inflammation, it may also be due to a low-grade smouldering process that worsens over time. In its presence, you may experience a large range of different symptoms, subscribing to inflammation in various areas of the body.
Chronic inflammation is understood to underlie various presentations of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 DM, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. (1) You may recognize these disease processes as being many of the dominant ‘silent killers’ of our time. Unsurprisingly, the increasing levels of obesity is playing into this trend. Adipose (fat) tissue serves as an endocrine organ, releasing adipokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines in an obese state.(1) Visceral fat is a breeding ground for chronic inflammation, contributing to issues of insulin resistance and metabolic syndromes.
Mechanisms at Play
Interestingly, there are mechanistic commonalities to all cancer states which play into this visceral fat phenomena. All cancer sites show that “excess of intra-abdominal adipose tissue favors insulinoresistance, chronic hyperinsulinemia, increased production and activity of the mitogenic factor insulin growth factor (IGF-1), estrogen production, via the aromatase activity, chronic low grade inflammation resulting from the production of pro-inflammatory factors i.e., tumor necrosis factor-alpha, Interleukin 6, and adipokines, and oxidative stress due to lipid peroxidation production” (2). Although there are specific mechanisms playing into certain cancer types, this process is present in all known cancer types. This realization in the scientific community, as well as the preventive medicine community, is huge.
Although visceral fat can deposit anywhere in the abdomen, the liver is specifically sensitive to accumulation of visceral fat. Although the mechanism is not entirely understood, there are many well sounded hypotheses’ that strive to describe the implications of this process. Firstly, the liver is your main metabolic organ. When it is surrounded by fat, especially in the area of the portal vein, it’s function is hampered, leading to metabolic dysfunction. (3) Further, adipocytes (fat cells) themselves release free fatty acids, along with the pro-inflammatory cytokines, as mentioned earlier. This trio, amongst other factors, is believed to contribute largely to the process of insulin resistance, and therefore inflammation.
Reversing and Preventing this Cascade
If issues of visceral fat, obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic dysfunction are at the root of the chronic inflammation that contributes to cancer states, how can we reverse and prevent this process? For starters, taking a look at diet and lifestyle is key. Many moderately simple shifts in everyday life can go a long way. According to recent studies on nutritional and lifestyle factors, the main nutritional objectives to improve cancer prevention specifically include reducing consumption of alcoholic beverages, having a balanced a diversified diet, and being physically active. (4)
I think we can all agree that these factors are relatively sensical and are very much controllable. Although alcohol consumption has become an integral part of societal pleasures for many, there are clear molecular and physiopathological effects that have been identified and are deserving of another glance. These include, but are not limited to, the pro-carcinogenic effects of the main metabolite of ethanol (acetylaldehyde), liver injury, folate deficiency, elevation of sex hormones, and the gross increase of radical formation. (5) This alcohol factor contributes greatly to visceral fat, and is very much responsible for the well known Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD), associated with metabolic syndromes.
A balanced and diversified diet as a preventative measure for chronic inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and cancer alike, is hopefully an empowering realization for many. We are very much in control of what foods we choose to consume. Increasing your daily intake of fresh vegetables and fiber fuel your body with the tools it needs to prevent and reduce inflammation. Let your food be your medicine. According to Dr. Jill Stansbury, in her Endocrinology focused 'Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals', specific food groups, including berries, the allium family (garlic and onions) legumes, and mushrooms can be particularly useful in improving insulin sensitivity and overall blood sugar control.
Coupling a well balanced diet with physical movement makes for a happy internal terrain. A sluggish body leads to a sluggish metabolism, creating an environment of smouldering inflammation. You must move and liberate the toxic byproducts of metabolism, and of those toxins you encounter in the environment, so that they do not contribute to this chronic process. Further, exercise is essential for ridding your body of any current stores of visceral fat!
The metabolic systems of the body respond greatly to herbs. Botanicals, including spices and teas, can be an easy addition into your routine and serve you greatly. Adding spices, such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek, and nutmeg, to your cooking cabinet will promote an anti-inflammatory environment on a regular basis. Our “Golden Drinking powder” was formulated for the very purpose of reducing inflammation and promoting a healthy metabolic environment. A daily intake of herbs in this formula, from turmeric to red root, will tonify imbalanced tissues and help to prevent/reverse the factors leading to chronic inflammation. This blend can be consumed as a tea, added to a smoothie or a porridge/oatmeal, or added to your food while cooking. There are a variety of ways to squeeze medicine into your everyday life.
Surrender to the energy of autumn,
Fall into gold.
4. Latino-Martel, Paule, et al. "Alcoholic beverages, obesity, physical activity and other nutritional factors, and cancer risk: a review of the evidence." Critical reviews in oncology/hematology 99 (2016): 308-323.