Whole Life Magazine

February / March 2019

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February/March 2019 13 healthy living Reduce Inflammation! WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR MOOD AND HEAL DEPRESSION? By Dr. Mark Menolascino I'm still awestruck by the number of times my patients present a wide array of issues — including brain fog, depression, high blood pressure, weight problems, and even the beginnings of heart disease and dementia — but then those symptoms improve dramatically when we uncover the inflammatory culprit causing the problems and target it with precision using personalized lifestyle medicine. Inflammation in the body is supposed to be a helpful part of the defense system, but if inflammation remains when it is no longer needed, it becomes an arrow right into the bullseye of your individual Achilles' heel — if yours is achy joints, inflammation makes them worse; if yours is mood, inflammation makes you depressed. We tend to think of mood disorders as somehow different from "physical" ailments, but many clinical studies show that physical, measurable aspects of the body (biomarkers) strongly influence the mental state — it's not just in your head. And inflammation is associated with depression. So much so that when patients without depressive symptoms are given medication with inflammatory side-effects, within three months 90% of them show at least two significant depressive symptoms according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The current understanding of the relationship between inflammation and depression is in its infancy. Also, what a study demonstrates does not mean you will have the same results. This premise, that the individual has unique imbalances that must be treated with personalized solutions, is central to the type of medicine I practice, functional medicine. In my clinical experience, if we can find the cause of your inflammation and reduce it, improved mood virtually always follows. To find your personalized solution for reducing inflammation, the first step is to collect data about yourself using the incredible resources readily available to us today. Ask your doctor about the following tests: FOOD SENSITIVITY – 95% of the body's serotonin, the "feel good hormone," is found in the gut and produced by cells lining the intestinal tract. Foods that cause your body to react in a defensive, inflammatory way influence your serotonin production in very direct ways. THYROID FUNCTION – Vast amounts of research have shown that thyroid health and depression are clearly related. Be sure to ask for the more thorough thyroid test that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, and the anti-TPO antibody, and don't allow your doctor to give you thyroid medication without testing first. Once you have this information, begin reducing your inflammation every day: LOOK AT FOOD AS MEDICINE – Eat to heal by increasing vegetable intake and avoiding sugar, heavily processed foods, and the foods indicated in your food sensitivity test. EXERCISE EVERY DAY – Even just a walk around the block is enough if you're new to exercise, and that's okay, but get your heart rate up every day. Exercise teaches your body how to manage inflammation, to use it when it's needed, but also how to turn it off and go back to normal. SOCIALIZE – Social support improves heart health, which supports brain health. You won't regret your efforts to reduce your inflammation. The inflammation solution is usually far more effective than medication (studies have shown some antidepressants are no more effective than a placebo, or sugar pill). And guess what kind of medication has shown to increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medicine in people who didn't respond well to treatment? Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory. But don't start popping aspirin – try reducing your inflammation on your own. It works! Dr. Mark Menolascino is the medical director of the Meno Clinic Center for Functional Medicine in Jackson Hole, WY, and author of Heart Solution for Women: A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. He is an MD with masters' degrees in pharmacology and immunology and assisted on the Heart Disease Reversal program with Dr. Dean Ornish. Visit menoclinic.com.

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