MUSCLE QUALITY AND INFLAMMATION

Inflammation is the single greatest cause of health problems today and is responsible for over 70% of our country’s health care costs. Not only is the number dramatically high at present (tens of billions of dollars), the costs are still rising. Dating back to our series on cholesterol, we have alluded to how inflammation contributes to numerous health conditions from heart disease, to cancer, to dementia, to autoimmune diseases, and digestive problems, and the list goes on. Inflammation is the one constant factor in all of these conditions.

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WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
 
When we think of inflammation, we often think of symptoms we can see like redness on a wound or swelling of an ankle. That is because Inflammation is the way in which the body responds to injury, illness, infection, trauma, and disease. However, inflammation can also occur at the cellular level and therefore, is not as readily seen or diagnosed. We often refer to this as silent or cellular inflammation.

On the positive side, inflammation is a part of the natural healing process within our body.  The key is to make sure that process is turned on when there’s an injury or infection and to shut off when the problem is gone.  What we don’t want is for the inflammatory process to remain “on” constantly inside our body while it’s battling a variety of potential invaders.  When things are working well, there’s a compliment between pro-inflammatory hormones that promote inflammation and tissue destruction, and those that promote anti-inflammatory hormones that promote healing.

WHEN IS INFLAMMATION A PROBLEM?
 
If our body is constantly under stress and battling irritants, then we are constantly inflamed.  More specifically, people typically produce too much pro-inflammatory hormones.  Oftentimes these conditions can be detected because of pain or swelling, and arthritis.  Of greater concern, however, are the conditions that aren’t easy to detect and don’t have physical or visual representation to alert us to a problem.  These problems can start with gradual yet constant increases in blood sugar, alterations of fatty acid profiles within our cell membranes, oxidative cellular stress, increased permeability of the digestive tract, elevated cytokines, free radicals, and cortisol.  What do all these things have in common? They all lead to cellular inflammation.  Welcome to the future of understanding health!

While some of these terms may seem a bit concerning, it’s only because we may be unfamiliar with what they actually are.  But, by understanding these things that cause inflammation, we can certainly take better precautions.  The problems listed above are responsible for the uncontrollable amounts of money being spent on healthcare and the growing numbers of people suffering from debilitating inflammatory related conditions. This is why we at The Exercise Coach® are so adamant about our Right Intensity Training™ and Metabolic Comeback™, because they specifically improve the things that cause inflammation.

So how does inflammation lead to problems from the gut, to heart disease, to cancer, to Alzheimer’s?

Here’s a breakdown of conditions referred to above:

Increases in blood sugar:

Chronically elevated levels of blood sugar lead to chronically elevated levels of insulin which is a storage hormone — e.g. storage of fat.  Not only are more fat cells created, but existing fat cells also house arachidonic acid.  Too much of this pro-inflammatory hormone leads to cytokines and increased inflammation that is turned on at all times.  Furthermore, the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin eventually wears out and a new Type II diabetic is born.  The equation looks like this:  High blood sugar = High insulin = High inflammation.

Related Conditions: Type II diabetes.
Causes: High Carb Diets.  Poor muscle quality.
Solutions: Right Intensity Training™ and Metabolic Comeback™*

Alterations of fatty acid profiles:

This specifically refers to the fatty acids found in cell membranes that regulate everything that goes in and out of our cells.  When proper nutrients, hormones and enzymes aren’t allowed to keep a cell healthy, inflammation kicks in.

Related Conditions: Any potential inflammatory related condition.
Causes: Diets high in processed foods and vegetable or seed oils…high carb diets.
Solution: Follow The Exercise Coach® Nutrition Playbook

Oxidative cellular stress: 

This refers to the ‘rusting’ or wearing out of cells which is normal, but when it becomes out of control and happening quicker than it should, the inflammation process kicks in.

Related Conditions: Heart disease, Cancer
Potential causes:  Free radicals from internal factors like stress and poor food choices, as well as external factors like pollution and chemicals create oxidative cellular stress and increase inflammation.
Solutions: Improve Muscle Quality and take part in a nutrition plan that recommends whole foods with plenty of vegetables, seeds and fruits like…The Exercise Coach® Nutrition Playbook.

Increased permeability of small intestine:

When we eat foods containing amylopectins (grains, breads, pastas, beans, and even potatoes) they can be difficult to pass through our small intestine.  The result is the amylopectins seep through the gut lining and aren’t recognized by our immune system, setting off an inflammatory process.  This can lead to significant autoimmune disorders.

Related Conditions: Leaky Gut, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis
Potential causes: grains, beans and potatoes.
Solution: Improve gut health and eliminate said foods from the diet.

Elevated Cytokines:

When inflammation is initiated by the immune system, messenger proteins called cytokines are released and can damage tissue and leave the brain vulnerable for disease.

Related Conditions: Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, and autism (Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter pg 52).
Potential Causes: Processed foods, grains
Solution: Metabolic Comeback™ and improved Muscle Quality (MQ)

Cortisol:

Cortisol is our stressor hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands to deal with inflammation (It is, therefore, anti-inflammatory). High cortisol is linked with insulin resistance, death of nerve cells, and worsening your immune system (anti-Inflammation, Dr. Sears pg 26).

Related Conditions: Most disease states.
Potential Causes: Poor diet, life stressors, improper exercise programming
Solutions: Rest, relaxation, improved muscle quality, and proper nutrition.

I hope we painted a better picture of some of the advanced metrics now being used to understand the causes of so many problems we face today.  I also hope everyone who reads this can understand why we at The Exercise Coach® are truly passionate about improving the quality of people’s lives.  From minor conditions like arthritis or heartburn, to the really big things like heart disease and dementia, we strive every day to impact the people we come in contact with and help lead the way to lifelong healthful living and active aging.

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Read the rest of this series:

Muscle Quality: Improving It Will Change Your Life

Muscle Quality and the Neurological System: Part 1

Muscle Quality and the Neurological System: Part 2

Muscle Quality and Fat Loss

Muscle Quality and “Cardio”

Muscle Quality and Cardiovascular Health

The Downside to prolonged “Cardio”

Muscle Quality and Osteoporosis

How to Combat Osteoporosis through Strength Training

Muscle Quality and Gastrointestinal Health

Muscle Quality and Inflammation

Muscle Quality and Brain Health

Muscle Quality and The Endocrine System: Part 1

Muscle Quality and The Endocrine System: Part 2

 
*  Resources: The Anti-Inflammation Zone, Dr. Barry Sears, pg 12, 22; Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors; A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial; Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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