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by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath Let’s start by shouting out what should simply be obvious to all of us, INFLAMMATION IS TAKING YOUR HEART DOWN! Most will agree that the three biggest factors in heart disease are chronic stress, poor nutritional choices and inflammation. Here’s the kicker though, chronic stress and poor dietary habits, such as the standard American diet or SAD, full of sugar processed foods and inflammatory foods are all triggers for inflammation. So when you really break it down, inflammation is the big Kahuna that leads to heart disease. Interestingly enough, heart disease does not get much attention these days. We’re all so busy talking about the latest gut issue, hormones, brain disorders and autoimmunity that we forget the impact that heart disease still is on our culture. After all according to the CDC, heart disease was still the leading cause of death in 2013. See this for yourself. So do you think that heart disease is still an issue? Heck yes it is! So what are you doing to prevent heart disease? And don’t tell me that your prevention is that you are taking a baby aspirin every morning. That does not count. Have you been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, do you have a family history of heart issues or is this simply a concern of yours? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions I would suggest that you consider the possibility that you may be chronically inflamed. You may be reading this thinking “I’m not inflamed!” Maybe, maybe not. If you are chronically inflamed, you would often deal with at least one of these issues.
  • You wake up stiff and it is tough to get the body moving when you first get out of bed in the morning
  • If you have been sitting for long a long period you may notice that you get up slowly from the chair
  • You are living with low level aches and pains on a consistent basis
  • Allergies or asthma
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Chronic fatigue
Do you see yourself in any of these? If  you do, make sure you look into this a bit deeper. After all, it is easier to address this now, rather than waiting until you have a heart attack. I am sure you would agree! If you have any of the regular symptoms mentioned above, it would be smart to test for inflammation. The problem is that many of the test for inflammation are not exactly precise. You may have heard of C-reactive protein (CRP), cardiac CRP or  homocysteine but there is also another marker that is often tested but not utilized for it’s gift as an inflammatory marker. This would be A1C. A1C is typically used as an assessment for diabetes but I have found this to be one of the best inflammatory markers also. So just look at A1C right? Actually no. I would recommend to look at all of these markers, or at least as many as you can to get the most comprehensive representation of inflammation possible. I would also share that reference ranges are not always the best analysis for inflammation. If you are close to the high level of the reference range, I would consider this an inflammatory risk factor for you. If you do not have easy access to testing for your heart, Walk In Lab is running a Heart Health special for the month of February. Review this here. And as mentioned earlier, it is much better to prevent a trauma rather than heal from one. Let’s say you suspected inflammation and you’ve had some blood test run and inflammation is showing to be an issue for you. What next you may ask? If you find that your body is inflamed, the next step is to address what is underneath the inflammation. After all, the inflammation is simply a part of a healing crisis response in your body. Here are the steps I follow with my clients to help them escape the pain of inflammation.
  • Address your fundamentals of health
    • Incorporate deep belly breathing in your daily routine
    • Stay hydrated with approximately one quart of water for every 50 pounds of body weight daily
    • Eliminate sugar and processed carbs
    • Assess and eliminate food sensitivity (extremely important)
    • Focus on proper sleep by reaching goals of sleeping about 8 hours, early to bed and early to rise
    • Move your body in a healthy way, preferably anaerobically
    • Visit a quality chiropractor if you do not already
    • Focus on enjoying at least two healthy bowel movements daily (one bowel movement daily is still considered constipation)
    • Get out in the sun daily
  • Address stress in your life. While we often cannot change the stress in our lives, we can perceive this differently and create healthier reactions to stress and learn new tools to release emotions in a health way.
  • Assess and address adrenal gland function. I see this all the time with clients. They have enough vitality to create an inflammatory response as a part of a healing crisis but they often do not have enough vitality in the adrenals to create the necessary anti-inflammatory response. Ultimately this leads to chronic inflammation.
  • If you are curious if adrenal function is an issue for you, click this link for a FREE adrenal assessment.
  • Address any gut, brain, immune connection issues. Based on our client base this is most often either gut infections such as detrimental bacteria, parasites, protozoa or other infections, neurotransmitter imbalances or deficiencies and/or immune dysregulation. These would have to be assessed by a quality natural health practitioner.
  • Also assess the likelihood of toxicity in your body. If you would like to learn more about heavy metal toxicity and how this weighs on your heart, view last week’s article here.
  • Last but not least, once you have addressed these underlying areas, you can address inflammation with the confidence that you have taken care of the triggers. I always use an aggressive anti-inflammatory protocol with my clients to support the body’s natural anti-inflammatory process and address the feedback loops that feed chronic inflammation.
Addressing the inflammation aggressively while also addressing the feedback loops is an essential factor for most. This is due to the fact that if your inflammation is chronic, this can continue even if you eliminate all the triggers. This is because the chronic inflammation will fuel itself once this has taken a stronghold on your body. If you would like to learn more about this chronic inflammatory state also known as a NF-kB state, visit this article hereIn the end, do not let inflammation take your heart down! This is such a rewarding preventative focus for all of us and can be accomplished with moderate effort but understanding this inflammatory response and taking action steps to recover and balance is the key. Your body already knows what to do, it just needs your help. If you have any comments or questions regarding this article please post this on our Facebook page or on our Twitter page for us to address personally. Contact Depke Wellness directly here.