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How to Lower Inflammation

STEP 5. Feeling just generally lousy? There's a good chance that inflammation is behind it. The reason is that, like a cancer, elevated inflammation slowly worms its way through your body, slowly doing its damage in unexpected places. In some men, it anhilates the arteries. In other men it leads to diabetes. In still other men it leads to arthritis, IBS, Crohn's Disease, allergies or asthma. Of course, it very often damages multiple systems simultaneously in many men as well. And, as you get sicker, lose energy, exercise less, digest foods improperly, etc. - the downward spiral just accelerates.  This is why examining and, if necessary, lowering inflammation is "step 5" in the Peak Testosterone Program.

Remember that modern life seems almost designed to raise inflammation, making it a struggle for most men to keep inflammation in check.  The first step, as always, is to monitor you inflammation.  Probably the most well-known measures of inflammation are probably CRP (C-Reactive Protein) and TNF alpha (Tumor Necrosis Factor), but there are many others as well.  C-Reactive protein is a fairly standard test nowadays and many in-the-know doctors will order this as part of a standard physical.

Typical C-Reactive protein guidelines are given below (straight from the American Heart Association website):

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  • If hs-CRP level is lower than 1.0 mg/L, a person has a low risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • If hs-CRP is between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/L, a person has an average risk.
  • If hs-CRP is higher than 3.0 mg/L, a person is at high risk.
  • Besides cardiovascular disease, high C-Reactive Protein levels are associated with these common maladies:

  • Three of the biggest cancers for males:  colorectal, [1] and prostate, [2] and lung. [3]
  • Alzheimer's and dementia are associated with inflammation. [24] For more information, see this link on Brain Killers.
  • Often before high inflammation takes out your brain and heart, it hammers your sex life from endothelial and erectile dysfunction. [5]
  • So what do you do to reduce inflammation? Here are 20 Ways to Reduce Inflammation:

    1) Pomegranate (and Cranberry) Juice. This juice significantly lowers systemic inflammation. [6]  There are other juices that will also lower inflammation dramatically.  See the link on Juicing and Inflammation for more details.

    2) Magnesium. Supplementation with this mineral dropped hsCRP like a rock in prediabetic individual and here in the U.S., a huge percentage of adults are struggling the beginnings of insulin resistance.  The study noted that "at the end of follow-up, participants who received magnesium chloride showed higher serum magnesium levels (0.86 ± 0.08 vs. 0.69 ± 0.16 mmol/L) and lower hsCRP levels (4.8 ± 15.2 vs. 17.1 ± 21.0 nmol/L) compared with participants in the control group." [30]

    3) Moderate Alcohol. Moderate alcohol consumption lowers many inflammatory markers. [7]  Of course, you should also read my links on Alcohol and Testosterone and Alcohol: The Pros and Cons first.

    4) Exercise is well-known for its inflammation-lowering properties. [8]  Several studies have found that it lowers TNF alpha [17] and C-Reactive protein [18].

    5) Avoid High Protein Diets (such as the Atkins Diet). This type of eating has been shown in several studies to increase inflammatory markers such as fibronigen and C-Reactive Protein. [12]

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    6) Arachidonic Acid Reduction. Most guys need to lower their intake of Arachidonic Acid (AA).  One study found that those who ate high levels of Arachidonic Acid (AA) (> 1500 mg/day) had 41% higher levels of inflammatory messengers in their blood than those with low levels (< 200 mg/day). [9] These extra and unneeded inflammatory messengers flooding the body lead to an unneeded and dangerous risk in bodily inflammation.  Here are common foods with high levels of Arachidonic Acid (AA):  farm-raised salmon (1306 mg), 2 egg yolks (140 mg), turkey (70 mg), pork (50 mg) and chicken (50 mg). [10]  Those middle aged and beyond should also be aware that the concentration of Arachidonic Acid (AA) in the blood rises with age.  And notice that the diets I advocate on this site fit in perfectly with this strategy:  the Ornish Diet eliminates all of these foods altogether and the Mediterranean Diet limits them.  NOTE:  You may wonder why farm-raised salmon is so astronomically high in Arachidonic Acid (AA).  It is primarily because of diet:  farm-raised salmon are fed corn and soybean meal which is high in omega-6's whereas wild salmon, which averages in at 175 mg of AA, eats omega-3 rich algae.

    7) Low-Glycemic Foods.  High levels of insulin activate enzymes that actually cause the body to produce more Arachidonic Acid (AA). [11] 

    8) Fish and Fish Oil.  Many studies have shown omega 3's to be proven inflammation fighters. [13]  See my link on Fish and Fish Oil for more details.

    9)  Eliminate Periodontal Disease.  Watch out for gum disease:  it leads to chronic inflammation and has recently been correlated to heart disease and recently erectile dysfunction. [14]

    10) Decrease Saturated Fat.  Saturated fat impairs some of HDL's good qualities, allowing inflammatory agents to accumulate in the arteries. [15]

    11) Laughter.  Laughter in one study of diabetics lowered C-Reactive protein by 66%! [16]

    12) Turmeric.  Turmeric, the yellow in yellow mustard and curry, is well-known for its inflammation-lowering properties and has been shown to provide relief for, among other things, Crohn's Disease. [19]

    13) Moderate Dark Chocolate and Cocoa. One study found that modest amounts of dark chocolate (20 g every 3 days) reduced C-Reactive protein levels by almost 20%. [20]  This is a very significant reduction, but it resulted from a relatively small amount of dark chocolate, about a square or two every 3 days. Another study gave volunteers 40 grams of cocoa and 500 ml of skim milk to patients at risk for heart disease.  What they found was that several key arterial inflammatory markers were reduced, an additional explanation as to why cocoa works its magic on cardiovascular disease. [22] CAUTION:  You may want to read my link on Does Chocolate Have An Ideal Dosage?

    14) Cholesterol.  A 2010 study revealed that one reason that high cholesterol destroys arteries is that it forms crystals leading to plaque-building inflammation along the arterial walls. [25]

    15) Lack of Sleep.  Going to just four hours of sleep per night will significantly raise your C-Reactive protein levels and your Pulse as well. [26]

    16) Testosterone. Perhaps surprisingly to some, that all-important male hormone reduces inflammation, specifically TNF-alpha and IF-1B, and is yet another reason to make sure you optimize your androgen levels. [27]

    17) Salt.  Salt intake can lower levels of adiponectin, a protein that inhibits inflammation. Dysfunctional levels of adiponectin have been associated with inflammation and many other nasty conditions.  See my link on Deadly Salt for more details.

    18) Boron. Boron is a proven inflammation decreaser and some research has shown it lowering both TNF-alpha and C-Reactive Protein.  It also positively impacted free testosterone!  See my link on Boron and Testosterone for more information.

    19) Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This simple tighten-and-release technique developed in the 1920's has proven itself over the years as a huge physical (and mental/psychological) health booster.  Regular PMR practitioners receive a huge TNF-dampening effect that can lower cortisol, TNF-alpha and IL-6.  In short it is one of your best protectors against The Common Male Enemies, and you can read about it more here in my link on The Incredible Many Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

    20)  Tart Cherry Juice. This juice lowers TNF alpha levels.  See the link on Juicing and Inflammation for more details.

    21) Vitamin C.  Yes, there is a cheap supplement that lowers C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels by 25%. At least that is what one study of men and womn with at risk CRP showed. [28] Furthermore, this was achieved with only a gram per days. For other reasons to consider this pennies-a-day supplement, see my link on The Many Benefits of Vitamin C.

    22) Creatine.  Creatine is known for its ability to fuel muscle growth throught satellite cells and increase your ability to workout.  Researchers have also found that it clamps down on post-exercise rises in TNF alpha and CRP (C-Reactive Protein), two of the biggest inflammatory cytokine troublemakers. [29] For more information on creatine, see my link on The Benefits of Creatine. The link says it is for vegetarians, but it will generally to meat-eaters and non. I also have some warnings about creatine in my page on The Potential Risks of Creatine.

    Also, a must-read book that will potentially save your life is Inflammation Nation by David Chilton.  It exposes many of the major causes of inflammation as no other book or site that I have seen: Inflammation Nation. He explains how many of the underlying issues to our Western societies, such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders and heart disease, are really just inflammatory in nature.

    CAUTION: If you have a medical condition or are on any medications, please discuss any changes with your doctor first. Certain supplements, foods and even juices can alter absorption rates of certain medications for example. Play it safe.

    REFERENCES:

    1) JAMA,2004,291:585-590

    2) Oncology Times,April 10, 2007,29(7):24-25

    3) J Clin Oncol,2006 Nov 20,24(33):5216-22

    5) International Journal of Impotence Research,2003,15:231–236

    6) Nitric Oxide,Aug 2007,17(1):50-4 (Epub, May 5 2007)

    7) Diabetologia, Oct 2004,(47)10:1760-1767(8)

    8) Eur Heart J, 2006, 27(11):1385-1386

    9) Inflammation Nation, by David Chilton, Ph. D., 2006, p. 81.

    10) Inflammation Nation, by David Chilton, Ph. D., 2006, p. 81, 92, 94, 95.

    11) Inflammation Nation, by David Chilton, Ph. D., 2006, p. 116.

    12) Angiology, 2000, 51(10):817-826

    13) Life Sciences, 2006, 78:2523-2532

    14) See http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152856.php

    15) Journal European Journal of Applied Physiology, Oct 2006, 98(3):256-262, "The effect of acute exercise on endothelial function following a high-fat meal"

    16) Presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society, Apri 18-22 New Orleans Experimental Biology 2009 scientific conference, "Mirthful Laughter, As Adjunct Therapy in Diabetic Care, Increases HDL Cholesterol and Attenuates Inflammatory Cytokines and hs-CRP and Possible CVD Risk", Birk, Tan.

    17) Nature, 2010; 464(7293): 1357, "NLRP3 inflammasomes are required for atherogenesis and activated by cholesterol crystals"

    17) Intl J of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, Sep 2000, 24(9):1207-1211, "Moderate-intensity regular exercise decreases serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha and HbA1c levels in healthy women"

    18) Amer Heart J, 152(4):793-800, "Response of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein to exercise training in an at-risk population"

    19) Inflammatory bowel diseases, 2008 Jun, 14(6):780-93, "Protective effects of dietary curcumin in mouse model of chemically induced colitis are strain dependent"

    20) J Nutr, Oct 2008, 138:1939-1945, "Regular Consumption of Dark Chocolate Is Associated with Low Serum Concentrations of C-Reactive Protein in a Healthy Italian Population"

    22) Am J Clin Nutr, 90: 1144-1150, 2009, First published September 23, 2009; "Effect of cocoa powder on the modulation of inflammatory biomarkers in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease"

    24) J of Alzheimer's Dis, 2007, 12(2):151-156, "Elevated Serum C-Reactive Protein Concentration in Bosnian Patients with Probable Alzheimer's Disease"

    25) Nature, 2010; 464(7293): 1357, "NLRP3 inflammasomes are required for atherogenesis and activated by cholesterol crystals"

    26) J Am Coll Cardiol, 2004; 43:678-683, "Effects of sleep loss on C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker of cardiovascular risk"

    27) J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2004; 89: 3313–3318, "The effect of testosterone replacement on endogenous inflammatory cytokines and lipid profiles in hypogonadal men"

    28) Free Radic Biol Med, 2009 Jan 1, 46(1):70-7, "Vitamin C treatment reduces elevated C-reactive protein"

    29) Nutrition, Sep 2013, 29(9):1127-1132, September 2013"Effects of creatine supplementation on oxidative stress and inflammatory markers after repeated-sprint exercise in humans"

    30) Archives of Medical Research, May 2014, 45(4):325-330, "Oral Magnesium Supplementation Decreases C-reactive Protein Levels in Subjects with Prediabetes and Hypomagnesemia: A Clinical Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial"

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