Friday, July 2, 2010

Apple a Day, or Aspirin a Day? Part II

So yesterday I wrote about 2 categories of hormone-like substances that play different roles in the body.  One category the body uses to repair injuries, or for infections by stimulating the process called inflammation.  The other category offsets these effects by promoting things like relaxation of blood vessel walls, decreasing sensitivity to pain, relaxing muscle spasms, etc.  If you need a refresher, check out yesterday's post.

Aspirin works by blocking the enzymes that activate the hormone-like substances we just talked about.  But it blocks BOTH groups.  So while there will be a decrease in the production of inflammatory signals, it also cuts off the body's anti-inflammatory signaling pathways.  Probably alright for short term relief, but clearly not a good long term solution.

The good news is that there are ways to increase the production of the anti-inflammatory signals, and that is by make sure the nutrients are there to do so.  EPA and DHA, two essential fatty acids that are found in cold water fish, ARE the precursors that are necessary to run the anti-inflammatory pathways in our cells.  Research has shown that the average American is terribly deficient in these nutrients, which tips the balance in favor of producing too many inflammatory signals, which is why chronic degenerative diseases, mediated by an inflammatory process gone wild, is the cause of 1 in 7 deaths in the US is the cause of 1 in 7 deaths in the US today.

EPA and DHA are two of the primary factors in fish oil, which also belong to the Omega 3 Fatty Acid family.  That's why fish oil has recieved so much attention over the years.  The typical diet is high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids, which promote production of the inflammatory category of hormone-like substances, which ends up looking like this:

You don't want that.

Live Better Through Balancing out your body's biochemistry!  Make daily supplementation of high quality essential fatty acids a part of your ongoing nutritional program.  Fruits and vegetables just happen to be very anti-inflammatory (unless you have an allergy or your digestive tract is in severe distress like in Chron's disease).   and live a longer, happier, healthier life!

For more information on this fascinating subject, check out

  • has a ton of useful information, the most visited "natural" health site on the planet
  • Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill - a book by Udo Erasmus
  • or shoot me a message with your question
It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the idea of an anti-inflammatory diet
and learn to work it into your lifestyle. 

I know, just in time for picnic and party food for the 4th of July weekend. 

Have a safe and happy 4th of July.
-Dr. D

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