“But doctor, I don’t understand. I still feel sick.”
I hear this all the time in my office. A new patient comes in with complete blood work, a recent physical, medication and/or a supplement regimen, yet they still feel sick. Why? According to current research, the cause of their ailments may lie just beneath the surface of their standard blood work. If certain components of their health aren’t analyzed and addressed, it’s likely they’ll never reach their full health potential.
So what’s the underlying problem? Inflammation. Now, I’m not talking about when you do a hard workout or twist your ankle. Most of these symptoms are related to acute inflammation: redness, swelling, loss or motion. I’m talking about a chronic low-level inflammation throughout the body that can be the underlying cause of fatigue, weight gain, high cholesterol or more advanced conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases.
How to check for inflammation?
This is usually done by a medical doctor, chiropractor, osteopath or other healthcare provider with a specialty in functional medicine. With this expertise, they can analyze blood work and symptoms more specifically than a physician who is just looking for a set of specific diseases.
For example, most lab results have broad ranges on which they determine certain conditions. The risk most people face is when they may be leaning toward a certain condition that isn’t showing up in the lab results. Inflammatory reactions can be seen in patients weeks or even months before the disease clinically manifests, but most traditional lab tests won’t detect this.
Since this is a low level inflammation, there might not be any outright symptoms of chronic inflammation initially, here is a list of conditions that can increase your risk.
- Being obese or overweight
- Eating a poor diet consisting of junk food and processed foods
- An existing heart condition
- A family history of heart disease or diabetes
- A sedentary lifestyle (no, or very little, exercise)
- Long-term infections
Which tests should you ask for and why?
When you have chronic inflammation the body is needing more nutrients in order to recover. Why? Think of what happens when you catch a cold. You may experience inflammation (i.e. a fever) as your body heats up to fight the virus. This type of inflammation is very normal but the modern epidemic of chronic, low-grade inflammation destroys the balance in your body. When your body’s systems experience a constant inflammatory response, you become more susceptible to aging and disease. Therefore, depending on the severity, you could be eating tons of high quality veggies, protein, and fats and still not meet the nutritional needs to completely control your inflammation (sources: here and here).
If you’re interested in testing for inflammation, there are several blood tests that check your levels for nutrients like potassium, magnesium and vitamin D to see if your diet is meeting your body’s demands. There are other tests such as C Reactive Protein and ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) that can look at the overall inflammation in your body. Your healthcare provider can also test to make sure your organs are functioning at high levels so he or she can develop a plan that’s right for you.
Here are some health tips to help reduce chronic inflammation.
- Drink fresh pure water.I know it might sound too simple but most people either don’t drink enough water or are doing too many dietary wrongs that cause excess excretion (excess coffee intake and alcohol). Drink a minimum of 8 8oz glasses of water per day.
- Minimize/eliminate processed foods. Most processed foods have many chemicals that can increase inflammation. Stay away from the canned foods and eat foods such as wild salmon, legumes, and deep colored vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and red/yellow bell peppers.
- SLEEP. Ideally get to bed as close as possible to 10-11pm and sleep until 7. Our bodies are rebuilding and repairing at night so sleep is vital to reducing inflammation.
- Supplementation: Fish oils, because of the high omega 3 fatty acid content, are high in anti-inflammatory properties. Also a high quality Vitamin D, Potassium or Magnesium can also help reduce inflammation. Also note, supplements that are in a chelated or glycinated form are more absorbable than ones made from oxide (i.e. Magnesium Glycinate versus Magnesium Oxide).
For more information, visit my site or read more about advanced health diagnostics here.
Dr. Scott Jurica, MS, DC, PAK, ACN
Dr. Scott Jurica is a chiropractic kinesiologist and clinical nutritionist dedicated to providing the most progressive and integrative healthcare by utilizing many innovative therapies such as advanced nutrition, applied kinesiology, chiropractic, herbal medicine, functional medicine, and advanced laboratory analysis to personalize a health program for each patient.