Targeting Inflammation with CBD

It is certainly clear that our most pervasive chronic conditions share a common feature in terms of their underlying cause. Whether we are talking about coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, or even Alzheimer’s disease, what current medical literature reveals is the powerful role that inflammation plays in these and other common conditions.

Ultimately, the main issue with higher levels of inflammation that manifests as damage to tissue is the fact that when inflammation has been turned on, it increases the production of damaging free radicals, a situation we call oxidative stress. When oxidative stress is running rampant, damage occurs to our proteins, and fat, and even our DNA.

Over the years there has been extensive research looking at how increasing the availability of antioxidants might help to protect our bodies against these damaging free radicals. But recognizing that the upstream instigator of this problem, to a significant degree, is inflammation, allows us to redirect our targeting in order to protect our body’s tissues.

I have written extensively about how reducing dietary sugar and carbohydrates, while at the same time increasing dietary consumption of good fats along with dietary fiber, goes a long way towards reducing inflammation. Emerging research now demonstrates that cannabidiol (CBD) has significant potential in terms of limiting inflammation and downstream effects in terms of free radicals as well.

In research published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, scientists at the University of Mississippi medical center described not only the complexities and challenges posed by trying to specifically target oxidative stress in a variety of disease states, but also the potential benefits of using CBD to accomplish this goal.

Unlike THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for the “high,” CBD is a non-psychotropic derivative of the plant. It was first isolated 1940 and ultimately chemically characterized in 1963. Recently, research has demonstrated that CBD has wide ranging activity in terms of reducing inflammation and the damaging effects of free radicals. Specifically, CBD modulates the function of the immune system. Research would indicate that overall, the effects of this modulation seem to be quite positive.

CBD, for example, has been demonstrated to be specifically effective in dealing with various types of pain. This activity is also thought to represent a manifestation of CBD working as an anti-inflammatory much as over the counter anti-inflammatory medications are used for typical aches and pains.

Further, many of the health-related issues associated with obesity are a consequence of increased inflammation. CBD is being explored extensively in relation to obesity in hopes of reducing some of these important health consequences.

In the conclusion of the research publication, the authors stated:

Inflammation and oxidative stress are intimately involved in the genesis of many human diseases. Unraveling that relationship therapeutically has proven challenging, in part because inflammation and oxidative stress “feed off” each other. However, CBD would seem to be a promising starting point for further drug development given its anti-oxidant (although relatively modest) and anti-inflammatory actions on immune cells…

The research in terms of medical application of CBD is expanding dramatically, and with good reason. As a natural, plant derived anti-inflammatory, CBD joins other familiar players in this arena like turmeric which is derived from curcumin, as well as ginger and many others.

Moving forward, you can be certain that CBD research will continue to expand, and likely validate it’s efficacy across a wide spectrum of health issues. As always, I’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest science here.

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Link to article: https://www.drperlmutter.com/targeting-inflammation-with-cbd/

Is The Primal Lifestyle For You??

The stretch from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is one filled with family, friends and indulging on food and libations.  So what exactly is a New Year’s Resolution.  It is a tradition in the Western Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

I make reference to the New Year’s Resolution because with it being the middle of January, fitness centers around America are slowly becoming less and less crowded as we inch our way to February.  In a 2014 report, 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

Always at the top of the list for resolutions is to lose weight and exercise more.  People start the year off with great intentions.  They’re doing their best to workout every day, eat more veggies, cut out sweets, and on and on.  As mentioned in the stat above, people tend to go back to their normal ways because they truly did make unrealistic goals and tried to bite off more than they could chew.  It’s not easy to go from your normal lifestyle that you’ve been working on for many years and then all of sudden come January 1st you are going to do a 180 and adopt it 100% and feel great.  Once people get sick of their new “diet” or the chronic cardio sessions on the treadmill, they slowly revert back to their old ways.

I have been working on living a Primal Lifestyle now for almost three years.  I have embraced this because of the simplicity of it once you understand the basic principles.  Finding your way here is a much more gradual process than the 180 degree change on January 1st!  There are three main principles to grasp:

  1. Eat Primal “Whole” Foods
  2. Ditch Toxic Modern Foods
  3. Exercise Primally

Eating Primal foods means you can eat meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  All of these foods are nutritious, highly satisfying, and promote stabilized energy levels and efficient burning of stored body fat for energy.  You will learn to become a fat burning machine versus being carbohydrate dependent.  No more “Carb Crashes”!

The excessive intake of processed carbohydrates and chemically altered fats in the Standard American Diet (SAD) may be the most health destructive element in modern life.  Excess insulin production from a high carb diet leads to fatigue, burnout, disease, life-long weight gain, and a continued dependency on additional health-compromising carbs!  You should seriously consider eliminating the following foods from your diet:

  • Sugars and Sweetened Beverages
  • Grains
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Processed and Packaged Foods

Exercising Primally doesn’t have to mean you beat yourself up each day at the gym and run like a crazy person on the treadmill, which is what I did for many years thinking I was doing the right thing.  What is great about Primal exercise is that it is much easier to fit into a busier lifestyle.  These are the core elements you try to follow:

  • Increase daily low-intensity aerobic workouts like walking, hiking, easy cycling, jogging, etc.
  • Shoot for 2 strength sessions each week lasting no more than 30 minutes.  You don’t even need to go to the gym, you can focus on the four Primal Essential Movements:
    • Pull-Ups
    • Push-Ups
    • Plank
    • Squats
  • Once every 7-10 days, push yourself to do sprints lasting 8-30 seconds for 20-30 minutes.  You can do this on a treadmill, or go outside and do them.

hiking

If you can adopt this simple exercise routine, it will help to optimize fat metabolism, delay the aging process, build and maintain lean muscle mass, and develop lifelong functional fitness.  This approach to fitness can deliver maximum results taking up less time and less suffering!

 

What Should I Eat??

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I recently saw this photo, which was shared by Dr. Mark Hyman on his Instagram feed.  I thought this was a great visual for people to look at when trying to figure out what to eat when trying to eat healthier.

On the left is where you can explore with a wide variety of vegetables, nuts & seeds, berries, avocado, leafy greens and more.  These are the low-sugar plant choices you can eat.  With regards to nuts, you can’t go wrong with Macadamia, walnuts and almonds.  Try to avoid nuts roasted in seed oils like canola, vegetable, etc.  Good old raw nuts will do!  For your proteins, it is highly recommended to buy the best quality your money can buy.  It is better for you to pay more for higher quality and eat less, than to pay less and buy more.  For example, getting grass-fed ground beef instead of conventional steaks would be a wise choice.  You’ll get more nutrients with the grass-fed than you will the grain fed beef.  One of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat is eggs.  Same rule applies here, go for the best quality (pasture raised) your money will buy.  Seafood can get tricky.  A good rule of thumb is to look for wild caught as opposed to farm raised.  Don’t be fooled by “Atlantic” Salmon and assume that it is wild caught in the Atlantic Ocean.  This is actually a species of salmon that does not necessarily mean it was wild caught.  A lot of the salmon you see in stores is farm raised, which is typically something you should steer clear of.

What I really like about this picture is the question “Did you work out?”  Depending upon the level of your activity each day, this should dictate how much food you need.  Our hunter gatherer ancestors would sometimes go days without eating.  I can assure you they were not getting in their miles on the treadmill during times of fasting!  Try to be aware of how much food you are eating compared to your level of activity.  On the days where you are getting in some miles walking, or doing some workouts with weights, you can treat yourself to some carbs with one of your meals.  I like to stick to sweet potatoes, or some form of organic sweet potato.  Other options to consider are wild rice or quinoa.

The more whole foods you can have in your diet the better.  Be mindful about what you are putting into your body.  The more you can treat food like medicine, the better you will feel in the long run!

 

Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive.

By James J. DiNicolantonio and Sean C. Lucan
December 22, 2014
New York Times

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YOUR co-worker brought in brownies, your daughter made cookies for a holiday party and candy is arriving from far-flung relatives. Sugar is everywhere. It is celebration, it is festivity, it is love.

It’s also dangerous. In a recent study, we showed that sugar, perhaps more than salt, contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Evidence is growing, too, that eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and kidney disease.

Yet people can’t resist. And the reason for that is pretty simple. Sugar is addictive. And we don’t mean addictive in that way that people talk about delicious foods. We mean addictive, literally, in the same way as drugs. And the food industry is doing everything it can to keep us hooked.

Up until just a few hundred years ago, concentrated sugars were essentially absent from the human diet — besides, perhaps, the fortuitous find of small quantities of wild honey. Sugar would have been a rare source of energy in the environment, and strong cravings for it would have benefited human survival. Sugar cravings would have prompted searches for sweet foods, the kind that help us layer on fat and store energy for times of scarcity.

Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. If you consider that the added sugar in a single can of soda might be more than most people would have consumed in an entire year, just a few hundred years ago, you get a sense of how dramatically our environment has changed. The sweet craving that once offered a survival advantage now works against us.

Whereas natural sugar sources like whole fruits and vegetables are generally not very concentrated because the sweetness is buffered by water, fiber and other constituents, modern industrial sugar sources are unnaturally potent and quickly provide a big hit. Natural whole foods like beets are stripped of their water, fiber, vitamins, minerals and all other beneficial components to produce purified sweetness. All that’s left are pure, white, sugary crystals.

A comparison to drugs would not be misplaced here. Similar refinement processes transform other plants like poppies and coca into heroin and cocaine. Refined sugars also affect people’s bodies and brains.

Substance use disorders, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, exist when at least two to three symptoms from a list of 11 are present. In animal models, sugar produces at least three symptoms consistent with substance abuse and dependence: cravings, tolerance and withdrawal. Other druglike properties of sugar include (but are not limited to) cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, opioid effects and other neurochemical changes in the brain. In animal studies, animals experience sugar like a drug and can become sugar-addicted. One study has shown that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable.

In humans, the situation may not be very different. Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. And although other food components may also be pleasurable, sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world. For instance, functional M.R.I. tests involving milkshakes demonstrate that it’s the sugar, not the fat, that people crave. Sugar is added to foods by an industry whose goal is to engineer products to be as irresistible and addictive as possible. How can we kick this habit? One route is to make foods and drinks with added sugar more expensive, through higher taxes. Another would be to remove sugar-sweetened beverages from places like schools and hospitals or to regulate sugar-added products just as we do alcohol and tobacco, for instance, by putting restrictions on advertising and by slapping on warning labels.

But as we suggested in two academic papers, one on salt and sugar in the journal Open Heart and the other on sugar and calories in Public Health Nutrition, focusing narrowly on added sugar could have unintended consequences. It could prompt the food industry to inject something equally or more harmful into processed foods, as an alternative.

A better approach to sugar rehab is to promote the consumption of whole, natural foods. Substituting whole foods for sweet industrial concoctions may be a hard sell, but in the face of an industry that is exploiting our biological nature to keep us addicted, it may be the best solution for those who need that sugar fix.

James J. DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. Sean C. Lucan is an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.