Hi, this is Dr. Steve Gangemi and in this video, I wanted to discuss inflammation and how it pertains to injuries, whether you’re trying to prevent an injury, hopefully you are, or especially if you have an injury that you’re dealing with. Inflammation is one of these things that many people think of…and when I say many people, I’m also referring to doctors and therapists…everybody tends to think that inflammation is a really bad thing when you actually sustain an injury. But as I discussed in another video, especially the one on ice, inflammation is a necessary component of healing and repairing tissue when you become injured.
So we want to have a normal amount of inflammation, but unfortunately many people end up with widespread inflammation, more inflammation than their body needs to heal, and then they end up with a chronic type of pain pattern or chronic type of injury pattern because basically their body can’t deal with so much widespread inflammation. So we need a little bit of inflammation to occur, but not too much. It’s like too much of a good thing.
So how do you keep inflammation in check so if you sustain an injury, you have just the right amount of inflammation to help you repair and rebuild tissue? And that question is answered by looking at your diet because fats have a lot to do with the amount of inflammation that you have in your body or will have in your body when you become injured, if you become injured, as well as how quickly you’ll heal up.
Now you’ve probably heard about things like omega-6 fats and especially omega-3 fats, commonly known as fish oils. Fish oil is a very easily obtained food supplement today. High levels of omega-3’s, fish in general obviously, as well as flax oils and some walnuts, too, these foods contain a lot of omega-3s. It’s a really good anti-inflammatory type fat. And then there’s the omega-6 fats, which are mostly vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
The balance between these two, omega-6s and omega-3s, is very important because they’re both anti-inflammatory type fats. But when you have low levels of these anti-inflammatory type fats and high levels of pro-inflammatory type fats, then you end up having too much inflammation in your body and then if you get injured, you’re not able to deal with this inflammation properly.
So what happens biochemically in your body is that the pro-inflammatory fats are typically made from too many anti-inflammatory fats, and this is what happens when you consume the majority of your omega-6 fats when they’re not in their natural state. So raw nuts, seeds, vegetables, all these types of foods are very healthy for you. Of course, you don’t need to be eating a crazy amount of it, especially nuts and seeds, but vegetables are always pretty much good for you. But if you eat too many refined vegetable oils that are made from these raw nuts and seeds, such as sunflower oils, safflower oils, peanut oils, soybean oils, and cottonseed oils, then these refined oils tend to be converted to pro-inflammatory type fat.
So again in their natural source, they tend to be anti-inflammatory type fats and along with the omega-3 fats, you’ve got a good amount of anti-inflammatory compounds in your body. But if you have low levels of omega-3s because you’re not consuming some flax or especially fish and some walnuts, then you’re going to have low levels of anti-inflammatory fats and too many pro-inflammatory fats from the common vegetable oils that people eat day in and day out and then you have a high imbalance of fats in your body.
So one of the most important fats to understand when it comes to dealing with inflammation is a fat called arachidonic acid, and arachidonic acid is basically what your body makes when it converts anti-inflammatory fats into pro-inflammatory fats. But this happens when someone consumes vegetable oils, the cottonseed oils, the soy, the corn, with high levels…or even just higher levels than what they should normally be eating…of refined carbohydrates. Those are the white flours and the white sugars.
Basically too many carbs and too many refined vegetable oils make an inflammatory type of arachidonic acid. Then you end up with too much inflammation and it’s not able to be opposed by the anti-inflammatory fats, the raw nuts and seeds and the fish and the flax and the walnut oils.
However, if you consume arachidonic acid in its natural source…now this is grass-fed beef, this is egg yolks, hopefully pasture-raised, and this is hopefully organic butter and cream and even to some extent some shellfish…these natural sources of arachidonic acid are a great way to give you just the amount of proper inflammation that you need to help heal an injury. And actually arachidonic acid is the most plentiful fat when it comes to brain health and nervous system health, which is why it’s very high in breast milk so the mom can give it to her developing baby.
Arachidonic acid is also important for immune system function and, as I just mentioned, nervous system function. When it comes to injuries, if you don’t have the proper amount of arachidonic acid in your body, then you won’t heal up as naturally as you can. So the key points here are when you’re dealing with inflammation, when you’re dealing with an injury, is to balance the inflammation in your body.
Think about getting natural sources of arachidonic acid. Don’t worry about the high levels of saturated fats that many of these foods are linked with such as obviously the saturated fats in red meat and the cholesterol levels in eggs, which is a myth, and how bad butter and cream may be for you. They’re actually very good for you if you can eat them in an unprocessed source.
You’re going to get bad levels of arachidonic acid from too many refined vegetable oils and from trans fats also, in fried foods, as well as too many carbohydrate-type foods. What we’ll talk about next in part two is why people choose or tend to go to an NSAID, an anti-inflammatory type drug, to help balance these fats in an artificial state to deal with inflammation.