Chronic Illnesses and Diet part 2
Chronic Inflammatory Illness and Insulin Resistance
Allowing for the fact that genetics affects an individual’s susceptibility to disease, the roots of chronic illness often lie in deficiencies of various nutrients, other dietary issues and hypersensitivity to foods and environmental factors, such as toxins. Whichever of these factors apply to you or your family, insulin resistance may be the easiest to recognize and correct. When you have this condition high levels of insulin, created by frequent intake of carbohydrates, spill over into biochemical injury that makes whatever you have worse. This can include asthma, eczema, colitis, depression, headaches, psoriasis and much more.
What is common to all of these problems is inflammation. Whether you’re looking under the microscope or studying its basic chemical reactions, inflammation is the same, wherever it’s found. Chronic cough and mucus; sore, swollen, stiff joints; cramps and diarrhea; a chronically red, itchy rash; or periodontal disease — all are inflammation. Even cardiovascular disease, which used to be called hardening of the arteries and is now called atherosclerosis, is recognized as a fundamentally inflammatory process.
The first step in the biochemistry of inflammation is the release of informational substances from injured cells that attract the attention of healing mechanisms, the way a phone call to the automobile club brings you roadside assistance. The aid mobilized by these cellular calls for repair work is usually limited to the immediate task at hand; it’s designed for mending a cut or recovering from a burn or fighting infection. But if the agent causing the inflammation persists or if something goes wrong with the signaling mechanisms involved in the call for help, the repair work and its accompanying signals (pain, swelling, redness and heat) may become stuck, leaving you with a chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammatory diseases are often described by medical terms that end in Itis’ and ‘,psis’.
Because the signaling mechanisms involved in chronic inflammation may be distorted by inappropriately high insulin levels in your body, this is something over which you have control. Controlling insulin levels through appropriate dietary changes, including reducing carbohydrate consumption or shifting most consumption of carbohydrates to the later part of the day, will result in a positive effect on the biochemistry of inflammation. Although this dietary change is not directed at a specific disease, it should be part of any comprehensive treatment since it is aimed at easing the predictably disordered chemistry of anyone with a chronic inflammatory illness.
Medications that simply squelch the inflammation may not always be the best course of treatment. Granted, there are instances in which the cause is long gone but the body has gotten stuck in some kind of inappropriate reaction. In these cases, subduing the symptoms temporarily may work. But it’s different when it comes to the daily, long-term application of steroid creams or the consumption of systemic steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs. These treatments have some fairly dreadful gastrointestinal side effects, including the tendency to create leaks in the intestinal walls that allow the entry of unwanted toxins, chemicals and allergens into the bloodstream.
The Body Clock Prescription for Treating Chronic Illness
Chronic illness makes you listen to your body. The message is not so precise that you know exactly what to change, unless of course it’s something like chronic cough in a smoker. Most of the time, chronic pain or other signs of inflammation don’t announce their cause. They demand that you do some detective work, presumably with the help of a professional who has good instincts and expertise at reading your body’s communications by carefully listening to your story, interpreting laboratory tests and then making educated efforts at trial and error.
Anyone with a chronic illness has to be especially aware of the second Tacks Law: if you are sitting on two tacks, removing only one does not necessarily make you feel 50 per cent better. This means that insulin resistance is just one of many manageable factors that may also include improving other aspects of nutritional status and looking for the trigger, irritant, allergen, toxin or germ to which your body may be responding.
Doing the detective work required to find underlying triggers of a chronic illness may take a long time; nor is it always successful. As a more generalized strategy, the ten steps of the Body Clock Prescription will not only prevent or tame insulin resistance, a major contributor to chronic illness, but will reinforce healthy body rhythms and foster rhythmic integration. Remember that flexibility is your body’s treasure; it enables you to be more like an orchestra, with its constant active effort to stay in tune and on beat, than a mechanical system. The same flexibility that allows you to fall victim to the negative effects of poorly timed eating, breathing, exercise or exposure to light also permits you to use such influences for your benefit.