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Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Groundbreaking 1 – 2 Punch for Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Producing  more BHB to fight  inflammation
“Really, another study extolling exercise’s benefits?” I said to my coworker, motioning to a recent study sitting on my desk"Do we really need researchers telling us exercise increases energy, protects against illness, or puts us in a more optimistic mood? I mean, duh."

Well, yes and no.

Any athlete, personal trainer, or gym buff can rattle off a killer workout’s countless benefits. Studies simply validate our predilections. And every so often, a study catches even our attention.

This one on my desk certainly did.

Researchers here found a novel mechanism whereby exercise could decrease susceptibility to inflammatory diseases. That mechanism involves a ketone metabolite called β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which helps block inflammatory processes.

You want plenty of this anti-inflammatory metabolite around, because
BHB inhibits production of a protein called NLRP3 that contributes to inflammation and all its ugly ramifications. My friend Dr. Jonny Bowden said inflammation plays a role in nearly every disease, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and diabetes.

In this recent study, published in Nature Medicine, researchers at Yale School of Medicine found high-intensity training (HIIT) creates more BHB to fight against inflammation. Again, what can’t exercise do?

But wait. Here’s where the study gets interesting.

Researchers also found caloric restriction, intermittent fasting (IF), low-carbohydrate diets, and ketogenic diets – sometimes chastised for being ineffective or “dangerous” diets – similarly boost BHB for even more anti-inflammatory benefits.

Let’s backtrack a minute. Despite its benefits, prolonged, high-intensity exercise also creates oxidative stress or oxidative damage. Think about a car rusting or an apple browning and you begin to understand what oxidative stress does to your body.

"We now know that oxidative damage plays a major role in every degenerative disease of aging, from Alzheimer's and cancer to heart disease and diabetes and even immune dysfunction," writes Bowden in The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer

Small amounts of oxidative stress can actually benefit you (think “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”), yet excessive amounts trigger inflammation.

Now you've got a double whammy – oxidative stress and inflammation – that Bowden calls two of "The Four Horsemen of Aging." If you’re an athlete or otherwise train vigorously, inflammation and oxidative stress can become your worst enemies.

Numerous culprits create oxidative stress overload. Pesticides in food, polluted air, crappy sleep, and gut dysfunction are major players. So is over-exercise

But wait, you say. What does this have to do with BHB? Well, while exercise increases oxidative burden, anti-inflammatory BHB, which you remember high-intensity exercise creates, can swoop in and offset or counterbalance that oxidative stress.

Pair high-intensity exercise with one of these BHB-producing diet plans and you’ll deliver one serious one-two punch against oxidative stress and inflammation.

Researchers here validate what I’ve said for decades: An intelligently designed diet coupled with the right workout can create lasting, sustained optimized health.

I’ve discussed seven ways athletes can intelligently create a ketogenic diet. IF works well for some people; others, not so much. I’m not a fan of caloric restriction, which ultimately creates a crash-and-burn hunger cycle that slows metabolism. The cool thing is, when you follow IF or even a low-carb diet, you automatically reduce calories by cutting junky foods.

If these diets aren’t for you, you’ll get similar benefits adding more anti-inflammatory foods like wild-caught fish, low-glycemic fruit, loads of veggies, and nuts and seeds. 

You also want to liberally sprinkle turmeric and other anti-inflammatory herbs and spices onto your foods. And ditch inflammatory culprits including gluten, dairy (unless it is fermented, like yogurt), and sugar.

Supplements like curcumin and fish oil can complement those anti-inflammatory foods. Factor in stress control, post-workout recovery, eight hours’ quality sleep every night, along with plenty of joy and bliss, and you’ve got a surefire plan to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress for a long, lean, active life.

Customization becomes key here for creating an effective, maintainable eating and exercise plan. Figure out what works for you. Hint: If IF makes you nosedive into a box of Krispy Kreme donuts, this is not the diet for you.

Have you ever tried a low-carb, caloric-restricted, or a keto diet? What about intermittent fasting? Did you get the results you wanted? Share your story below or on my Facebook page.

Additional References

Jonny Bowden, The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer (Massachusetts: Fair Wind, 2010).

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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!
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