systemic inflammation

Inflammation: The Sand Castle Analogy

systemic inflammation

Recent studies are pointing to chronic, systemic inflammation (CSI) as the major cause of chronic diseases. Chronic diseases include, but are not limited to, heart disease, stroke, and cancers. Autoimmune diseases, heart attacks, thyroid conditions, lupus, diabetes, and even “genetic” conditions fall into this group.Have you ever considered why you may know someone who has Type II Diabetes, but their siblings don’t? Their excuse may be “it runs in my family.” With epigenetics we find common links to common diseases. However, the body is more complex than that. Someone may claim that predisposition (increased likelihood of contracting the common disease based upon common genes), but there needs to be a trigger to activate these genes. If the genes are not activated, the body does not respond by allowing the disease process to occur. Now that we’ve laid out epigenetics in response to chronic diseases, let’s talk about the most common trigger: chronic, systemic inflammation (CSI).

CSI is a state in which the body is in constant stress. It is influenced by a number of factors, most importantly: exercise, diet, and toxins ingested. Exercise eliminates deleterious effects of sedentary lifestyle. Next, everything we put into our mouth affects the body. There are foods/supplements that promote health, just as there are foods/supplements that diminish health. Out of the foods and toxins that diminish health, a majority of them cause systemic inflammation. With constant consumption of these foods, the systemic inflammation becomes chronic.
Let’s break this down. Chronic means a long period of time, usually longer than one month. Systemic means wide-spread, throughout your body. Inflammation is a process the body uses repair itself. If it’s a healing process, why is it so bad for the body to be in this state? In CSI, the body is stuck in the initial cycle, like a scratched CD (do you remember that thing that used exist before your mp3 player?). It’s a constant repeat of irritation leading to an increase in the immune response (inflammation) without allowing the second phase of the process to begin.

Picture building a sand castle too close to the water. The castle is your body, the water is inflammation, and you are the immune system. Initially, you have that perfect castle. But wait, the tide is coming in. Initially it may bump the sand castle and, while the tide is low, you can repair the castle as good as new. As time goes on, the body is getting increased amounts of irritation, much like the tide coming in. Eventually you are unable to repair the castle (body) as the wave (inflammation) strikes it and the castle will not be able to be fully repaired. This varies on a large scale of how close your castle is to the water, or how often you are exposed to those irritants to the immune system.With that being said, let’s touch on some of the foods that we eat everyday that have been linked to promote CSI.

Before we mention these foods, and I cannot stress this enough: check out It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. This book thoroughly explores both sides: health promoting and health diminishing foods. Also, it includes easy to understand explanations for the processes in the body affected by food. Finally, they include a 30 day challenge to clean up your diet and improve your health. The beginning of each chapter has quotes from success stories of individuals trying the Whole30 challenge which helps grab your attention. Alright, now for some foods that we eat everyday that deteriorate our health:

  • Sugars, sweeteners, and alcohol
  • Seed oils
    – canola – corn
    – peanut – safflower
    – soybean – sesame
    – sunflower – etc.
  • Grains
    – flour – breads
    – wheat – oats
    – cereals
  • Legumes
    – beans – peas
    – lentils – peanuts

Please remember this list is not all-inclusive and is a brief review of food groups that appear to promote CSI. It Starts With Food heavily breaks everything down in simple terms and lays out an excellent 30 day program to help you avoid the majority of these food to promote a healthy lifestyle. Once again, It Starts With Food should definitely be a book on your conquered checklist and is a great book to keep on your bookshelf to reference and review from time to time after implementing the Whole30 program. For any additional information regarding dietary changes, please feel free to check out and once again, check out It Starts With Food. For those individuals in the Pottsville area in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania looking to make a change in diet, feel free to talk to Dr. Brandon Aucker at Revive Chiropractic.

Sources: Hartwig D, Hartwig M. It Starts With Food. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.; 2012.

nutrition; tobacco; heart health

The Truth about Heart Disease!

nutrition; tobacco; heart health
Dr. Lundell, a heart surgeon with 25 years experience is now basically saying “Hey, these chiropractors may have it right all along.” To quote Dr. Lundell: “However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition occurs called chronic inflammation.” Many studies point to chronic, systemic inflammation (CSI) to be the root of all evil. (For more information on inflammation, please read the sand castle analogy.)

In western medicine, there was an early concept that seemed to make sense: if you eat cholesterol, the cholesterol in your blood is going to rise. This rise in blood-cholesterol (fatty materials) increases viscosity (thickness) of blood which then can cause clogged arteries leading to strokes and, the big one, heart attacks! However, multiple studies have overturned this concept. The most recent discovery is that inflammation in the wall of the artery is the real cause of heart disease.

So that means that approximately 25% of the population are being misled and the 12 billion dollars being spent on statin drugs to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease are pointless. Digested cholesterol does not immediately spike blood levels of cholesterol. In fact, the body has an endogenous (internal) process that creates cholesterol because cholesterol is very important for physiological processes in the body.

The most common source the body utilizes to make cholesterol is refined carbohydrates, most commonly flour products (breads, cakes, pastas, etc.) and sugars (high-fructose corn syrup found in everything from imitation “pancake syrup” to sodas). The simple process: the body stores excess calories for energy in the liver and muscles. When these stores get full, the liver turns the carbohydrates into fat, specifically palmitic acid (the saturated fat linked to elevated triglycerides/cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation).

Directly from the heart doc: “The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.” So he is reiterating what I just mentioned. An overabundance of refined carbohydrates are the biggest culprit of excess stores of cholesterol AND the cause of injury and inflammation! So the low-fat diets that increased consumption of refined carbs and omega-6 vegetable oils (canola, vegetable, corn, soybean oils, etc.) put us at greater risk of heart disease.
Why do the omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils and low-grade animal meats increase inflammation? The body needs to keep a 3:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. With the over-consumption of omega 6 fatty acids, the balance is thrown off and allows the body to choose one pathway over the other. In this pathway, it creates cytokines (cell-messengers) that signal to increase inflammation to surrounding areas.

Yes, cholesterol is being deposited into the wall, but it cannot take place without the irritation from the toxins or foods exposed to the body causing the CSI. What makes more sense: lowering cholesterol that is very important to physiological processes in the body or preventing the chronic systemic inflammation from ever happening?

For more information and to read Dr. Lundell’s original article, please check the source listed below. Please check back next week to learn about some dietary changes you can make to prevent heart disease.


New Year, New You

Along with the New Year, most people make resolutions to eat healthier, lose weight, or just become more active. Unfortunately, these efforts frequently remain efforts rather than evolving into results. So why do most efforts fail?Here are some tips and tricks to help you with your diet and exercise goals.


Let’s start by talking about the major two things to avoid during this time. Then, check out the additional pointers to help you change your diet and avoid falling off the wagon!


These foods include canned foods, foods with a laundry list of ingredients that you cannot pronounce, anything with high fructose corn syrup, and anything with bleached flour. Some might call these all the stuff that tastes good. The reason we try to avoid these foods is because they are composed of harmful ingredients that can create inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract which increases inflammation throughout the body. The other reason is because they are usually simple carbs and empty calories. This means you’re taking in a lot more calories than you can use, so the body stores these calories into the fat cells.


One of the best things you can do when trying to lose weight is by just eliminating sugar intake. I know some of you are saying, hey, shouldn’t that be considered processed foods? I wanted to separate it to talk about how just eliminating excess sugars can help you LOSE WEIGHT. This is the same premise as the processed foods, which are chock full of sugars and simple carbs. Some condiments have sugars added to them. Generally, if it has less than 5g of sugar per serving, you should be okay to use it. If you want to lose weight, eliminate excess sugar. After about two weeks you will notice you’re not craving it anymore and you will notice an increase in energy and mood!

Some additional pointers:

Small changes go the distance– when trying to remodel your diet, small changes make the biggest impressions and last longer.

Keep a diet diary– just by writing down everything that enters your mouth, you can easily see that you may not be eating as healthy as you thought!

Fruits are naturally sweet desserts– having a craving for something sweet? Try fruits as a snack. They are made up of complex carbs that don’t digest as easily and are naturally sweet. This helps curb the sweet tooth.

Still hungry? Add more veggies, protein, or good fats– fiber in veggies and complex macromolecules like proteins and fats can help you feel full longer.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.


So what things will help you meet your exercise goals and prevent you from falling off of the wagon?


This may seem like a no-brainer, but, without fail, many people cut their resolutions short because of injury. We tend to fall into a sedentary lifestyle, especially, around the holidays. Muscles tighten, joints get achy, and our bodies adapt to these changes. Then we make a resolution and the next day we’re out there training for a marathon or training to lift a bus. We forget that before you can run, you need to (re)learn how to walk. Some keys to injury prevention are warming up before work outs, working on mobility and stretching, and a progressive workout regimen.

See your chiropractor

We spend 4 years (after college) studying movement patterns, injury prevention, and treatment methods to improve function and pain. Chiropractors are the biomechanical specialists in the medical world and can make sure the joints are moving properly, muscles aren’t inhibiting your efforts or at risk of injury, and your movement patterns aren’t altered. Pain is often the last indicator your body gives when something is wrong. Ignoring that is like ignoring your smoke detector even after you smell smoke – it doesn’t make sense!

Some additional pointers:

Set minor goals and major goals for the future – I love to sign up for 5K races for the spring, summer, and fall because it helps me train. Setting minor goals gives you something to work towards and keep you on track.

Don’t forget to lift weights – Compound movements mimic our natural movements so it makes sense to train that way. Furthermore, muscles burn calories. By lifting weights, you won’t get bulky or big (unless you train that way and intake huge amounts of calories), but you will look and feel better.

Mobility!– Don’t forget to stretch and warm-up. This is key for injury prevention. I prefer to use a foam roller to work out my tight muscles, especially on my rest days.

Pain alters movement -Soaking in Epsom salts can help reduce muscle tension and relieve delayed onset muscle soreness. Biofreeze is also a great product for pain relief. When topically applied, it helps create a cool sensation over the area which helps you reduce pain and prevent altered movement patterns.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.