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Around Our Town...To Your Health

Chronic Pain and Diet

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06/01/2006 - Howdy Folks;

Well, I am in a state of panic; I'd been developing this month's article in my head and notepad when the editor said it was due the next day. (Yikes!) Unfortunately, it is lengthy so I will have to do it in two, maybe three, parts since I only have the piece partway done. Again, I apologize.

The next segment we are dealing with regarding reducing chronic pain is the diet. I have given some of this information in the past but I read an article in the journal, The Pain Practitioner, Winter 2005, called "Reducing Inflammation Through the Anti-Inflammation Diet" which generated a lot of beneficial information that I will use in this article.

As you may be aware, our American diet has changed over the past 100 years:

--Increased consumption of animal products

and processed foods

--High consumption of Trans fatty acids

--High ratio of Omega-6 fatty acids

--Refined carbohydrates with a high

glycemic index

All these factors stimulate inflammation and result in increased levels of arachidonic acid. What's arachidonic acid? It is an omega 6 fatty acid found in cell membranes, especially in the brain. Arachidonic acid is converted by Cox enzymes (Remember NSAIDS prohibit this) to prostaglandin E2 the inflammatory molecule.

"The goal of an anti-inflammatory diet is to decrease the influx of preformed pro-inflammatory mediators and substances that cause an increase in free radical and antigenic stressors." In plain language, this is to quit eating things that promote the development of prostaglandin E2, free radical damage, and allergic reaction. The primary offenders are foods that are high in arachidonic acid.

The anti-inflammatory diet has the proper ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty acids. Humans must consume essential fatty acids in their diet. Essential fatty acids are important components of our cell membranes, influencing the integrity and biochemical properties of the membrane. This affects cellular, tissue and organ functions. (Important) Essential fatty acids are in all cells, especially nervous system and vascular cells. Essential fatty acids are critical for oxygen transport and energy production. Since omega 6 and omega 3 are essential, lets look at them. First omega 6...there are three kinds: Linoleic Acid--these are corn. safflower, cottonseed, sunflower and soybean oils. Gamma Linolenic Acid--primrose, black currant and borage oils.

Arachidonic Acid

Trans fatty acids are omega 6 fats that have been hydrogenated [read your food labels], producing a more stable and solid product (longer shelf life). The metabolism of Trans fats releases significantly higher amounts of free radicals. [Remember free radicals damage and age the body.] Increase in free radicals from metabolism of Trans fats increases the release of Arachidonic Acid from cell membranes causing even more inflammation and more free radicals [Positive feedback loop]. You should know by now that Trans fats raise cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, lower HDL cholesterol, and have adverse effects on cell membranes and the immune system.

Obesity itself promotes inflammation. Your abdominal fat is full of arachidonic acid that the body will release and store, thus the importance of maintaining proper weight.

Pain is not the only outcome of a pro-inflammatory diet. Diets high in margarine and fried vegetable oils [Trans fatty acids, omega 6 oils] double the risk for asthma in preschool-aged children.

Well I'm sorry I got this far (Boo, Hiss). I'm out of time and space. I hope this is making some sense to you so far. I will be discussing the omega 3 next month and I hope I can get to the dietary recommendation. If not there is always the next month. See Ya.

Marc Delgadillo is a chiropractor practicing in Casper

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