What is happening when your body just hurts all over?
Many patients have non- specific pain in both joints and muscles, have tried anti- inflammatories that work for a bit and then stop, and yet, according to their doctor, are showing no signs of arthritic changes.
The body is a web and symptoms are never in isolation. What else may be happening that will help to diagnose the cause of the chronic inflammation? Interestingly, in the extraction and investigation of the cause, there are 2 possibilities that may contribute to Chronic Inflammation.
Pyrroles are normal by- products of hemoglobin synthesis. Pyrrole disorder is a genetic (but fairly common) over- production of Pyrrole molecules. Pyrroles, in themselves, have no function in the body but they love zinc and B6 and bind to these substrates, pulling them out the body when the pyrroles are excreted. The result of this is a functional deficiency in both zinc and vit B6. Why is this important? Because the depletion of both zinc and vit B6 manifests in some unpleasant signs and symptoms, one of which is Chronic Inflammation.
What are the signs and symptoms of Vit B6 Deficiency?
A vitamin B6 deficiency can, over time, cause symptoms including:
Changes in mood, such as irritability, anxiety and depression
Worsening of PMS symptoms
Symptoms of anemia which may also be associated with iron deficiency or vitB12 deficiency.
In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers compared blood levels of vitamin B6 and 13 different indicators of inflammation in 2,229 adults enrolled in the Framingham Offspring study.
Although previous studies have linked low blood levels of vitamin B6 with various signs of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), researchers say this is the first large-scale study to look at the relationship between the vitamin and a variety of inflammation indicators.
The results showed that people with the highest overall inflammation score based on the 13 different indicators had the lowest blood levels of vitamin B6.
The reverse was also true. Those who had the highest blood levels of vitamin B6 had the lowest levels of chronic inflammation.
Skin, nails and hair. Zinc deficiency may manifest as acne, eczema, xerosis (dry, scaling skin), seborrheic dermatitis, or alopecia (thin and sparse hair).
White spots on nails
Diminished Vision, smell and taste. …
Compromised Immune system.
Poor Cognitive function
The following is a questionnaire to narrow down any possibility of pyrrole involvement.
If you have mood disorders, alcoholism, OCD or are bipolar, there is a possibility you have problems with pyrroles. However, signs and symptoms of B6 or zinc deficiency may not mean you have pyrroles in the urine but it is a good idea to check out any low nutrient status .
Both Pyrolurea and nutrient deficiencies are easily corrected.
___ ___ Do you sunburn easily? Do you have fair or pale skin?
___ ___ Do you react poorly to stress and avoid stressful situations?
___ ___ Do you have poor dream recall or only nightmares?
___ ___ Is it hard to recall what you’ve just read?
___ ___ Are you anemic or easily fatigue
___ ___ Are your eyes sensitive to bright lights?
___ ___ Do you sneeze in sunlight?
___ ___ Do you get frequent colds or infections?
___ ___ Are there white spots on your fingernails?
___ ___ Are you prone to acne, dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis?
___ ___ Do you have stretch marks on your abdomen or thighs?
___ ___ Do you prefer not to eat breakfast or even experience light
nausea in the morning?
___ ___ Are there severe mood problems, ADHD, mental illness, or
alcoholism in your family?
___ ___ Is your hair thin and sparse or do you have prematurely gray
___ ___ Have you been described as anti- social?
___ ___ Did you reach puberty earlier or later than normal?
___ ___ Do you frequently feel anxious or unreasonably fearful?
___ ___ Do you have frequent headaches?
___ ___ Do loud noises bother you? May also relate to a magnesium deficiency.
___ ___ Have you noticed a sweet fruity smell to your breath or sweat when ill or stressed?
___ ___ Do you have a poor appetite or a poor sense of taste?
___ ___ Do you have any upper abdominal pain? Do you easily get a stitch when running?
___ ___ Do your knees creak when bending or ache?
___ ___ Does criticism offend you?
___ ___ Do you have frequent mood swings and/or severe PMS?
___ ___ Do you tend to carry excess fat in your lower extremities (a pear-shaped figure)?
If you answered yes to more than 8 of the symptoms, it is worth investigating further. In this day and age, the possibility of simply being nutrient deficient, rather than having Kryptopyrrolia, is very possible but the impact of untreated nutrient deficiency grows as we age and some small changes to diet, as well as adding carefully chosen supplements is very do-able.
Many patients come to me with dry, itchy skin, cracked heels and flaking nails. The first question I ask is, ‘What does your diet look like?’ and almost invariably, their diet consists of highly processed foods, foods cooked in sunflower or canola oil, take away foods, and the occasional salad or vegetable. Alternatively, the opposite is true. The patient has removed all fat from their diet in an attempt to lose weight and the result, in both case, is problematic.
Our body needs good quality fat to function optimally. Every single one of our approximately 100 trillion cells, is surrounded by a fatty membrane. In addition, the precursor to our hormones, is cholesterol, so a balance between saturated fats and Omega 3, with minimal omega 6, (with the exception of omega 6 oils such as evening primrose), is essential for health.
So how do you know if your body is not getting enough good quality fat?
Dry skin and cracked heels
Inflamed and painful joints
Dry, flaky nails
Hard ear wax
Small bumps on the backs of your arms
Memory and mood problems
Poor stress management
While the body is an interconnected web and some of the conditions mentioned have a cascade of other contributory factors, low and poor quality fat intake is a player in poor health, in contrast to the outdated belief that fat is bad for you.
Not one of us would consider building our house using poor quality bricks and cement and yet we continue to feed our body with food that ultimately leads to poor health and in some cases, catastrophic challenges such as cancer. Far better is developing a practice of feeding the body with high quality materials that will result in prompt and efficient repair, high energy and efficient cellular communication.
Poor quality fats result in a cell membrane that is stiff and rigid and not soft and fluid. A fluid membrane allows the transference of nutrients, vitamins and hormones that assist the cell metabolism. In contrast, when the membrane is rigid and inflexible, the receptor sites are distorted and do not offer docking sites conducive to efficient transfer.
In addition to that, because communication between cells is poor, this increases susceptibility to inflammation, immune problems and DNA damage, as necessary vitamins and minerals are also prevented from reaching their targets. Consuming healthy fats also helps us absorb the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
What foods must I avoid
Processed foods. These contain cheap fats, high levels of omega 6 and trans fats
Please see the following article on oils and fats used in processed foods.
Deep fried take away and commercial foods.
We all love that heady smell of take- away chips. That delicious aroma of salt with a touch of vinegar, crispy edges, soft inside. Yum. Or what about that quick mid afternoon snack of crisp chips, purchased from the vending machine or the company kiosk.
Aside from the sublime eating pleasure, what are we really putting inside our body and is it worth it?
A few years ago, we were told that saturated fats were lethal for heart health and that margarine or ‘heart healthy’ tubs of spread were suddenly a healthier choice. Food manufacturers were delighted with this. Liquid fats such as sunflower oil, corn oil and canola oil are cheaper than butter and coconut oil but the downside to these liquid fats, is that they destabilize and deteriorate quickly. Light and heat negatively affect their chemical structure. To stabilize these oils, manufacturers ‘hydrogenated’ them (combined them with hydrogen atoms using a nickel catalyst) and lo and behold.. a longer shelf life. However, this process produced trans-fats which are deadly to health. There are no safe minimal levels to trans-fats and as consumers have become aware of this, manufacturers have been forced to re-look at the way they produce their processed foods. Many processed foods such as biscuits, popcorn, frozen pies, pizza, coffee creamers and many others, still contain hydrogenated fats and margarine. Indeed margarine is still sold as a ‘healthy’ alternative to butter in spite of undisputed evidence that it is not healthy at all. On the contrary, it is downright risky.
Now few people are unaware of the dangers of trans-fat. We look for labels that state, NO trans-fats and we believe we are doing the right thing. We use sunflower oil to fry at home and because sunflower seeds are plants, we again believe we are making healthy choices. Butter bad, sunflower oil good!
Some manufacturers have reverted back to the liquid, more unstable fats and this is where the ‘hidden’ dangers lie.
Buying deep fried ‘slap’ chips for example.
The oil in the deep fryers is re-used repeatedly and the degraded oils have health as well as practical disadvantages. One of the practical disadvantages is a ‘mist’ of polymers that clings, like a varnish, to stoves, extractors and even the clothes and hair of the cooks.
Health-wise, the aldehyde, caused by the chemical breakdown, is extremely toxic and has been cited in scientific journals as being responsible for several diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So even though manufacturers are eliminating trans-fats, the alternatives with deep fried foods, is not much better.
What alternative is now emerging?
The latest oil for frying is high in Omega 9. (That’s sounds better we think) We see combinations of omega 3, 6 and 9 in the health shops. Surely this is a healthier alternative. But is it?
Sadly, at high heat, omega 9 (including olive oil) denatures into acrolein, (acrylamides) a strong smelling, possibly carcinogenic aldehyde that irritates the eyes and respiratory tract. The oxidised monomeric triglycerides produced at high heat have also been linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Every time the oil is reheated, it breaks down still further and oils in factory settings are sometimes reused for up to 2 weeks. That is a lot of breakdown happening.
That is not the only assault to our health. The oils used are also treated to make them acceptable for commercial use. They are certainly not gently pressed and virgin, as we would hope from our salad oil. They are known rather as RBD oils. RBD stands for refined, bleached and deodorised.
This process involves the seeds being crushed and the oil extracted using solvents such as hexane. Then more chemicals are used to remove as much of the solvent as they can from the residue (not all is removed). The result leaves a bit of a gummy residue, which is then ‘degummed’ using acids or enzymes. At this point the oil is already hot and breakdown has begun.
Oh yes… and now it’s a bit smelly and not very appetizing so now the process of bleaching and deodorizing starts, using clay and then heating it to very high heat, at least twice, to get rid of the smell. ( I am smelling a rat by now!)
Food manufacturers also add chemicals to the oils to extend the ‘fry life’. Some of these are the same chemicals that are added to resins and varnish. One of these is actually the same chemical, propylene glycol, you put in your car as anti -freeze. After that, an antifoaming agent is added (a type of silicon called polydimetholsiloxane) plus an anti-splatter (Lecithin.) (Whew, I recognise that name, thank goodness.)
Oh yes, I forgot. Now there is an emulsifier added and sometimes filters are used such as silica, bentonite and perlite, to filter out the gunk from the previous day.
Deep fried commercial foods include: chicken nuggets doughnuts, chicken Kiev, yet when I looked on the label, none of the above was mentioned. This is because they are ‘processing aids’ and not additives, and therefore there is no legal requirement to mention them, but they certainly do not evaporate into thin air once the food is on my plate, about to enter my body.
In the US, the acrylamide produced by the high heat has been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a ‘probable carcinogen’, especially to children. Crisps and chips have been identified as the biggest source of acrylamide in the diet of children.
Take Away Point We all love these convenience foods but the impact on health can be profound. I suggest you have a ‘food holiday’ once a month, where you allow yourself a day of enjoying the foods you love, but have abstained from for the month. You will possibly find that your enjoyment of them changes over time but if you really feel like a ‘cheat’ from health, you know there is a day allocated to enjoy them.
What shall I add to my diet?
Omega 3. Around 2g per day. Alternatively, add sardines and other small oily fish such as herring. Salmon is wonderful for Omega 3 but sadly most salmon is farmed and full of mercury. omega-3s, help lower levels of bad fats (triglycerides) and raise levels of good fats (HDL). Omega-3 fats make blood more slippery, reducing the likelihood of artery disease.
Healthy Omega 6 from whole nuts and seeds such as Brazil nuts
Organic ground Flax seeds or flax seed oil. Add the oil to your salad. Do not heat either olive oil or Flax oil
Coconut oil for cooking or frying. Coconut oil has beneficial medium chain triglycerides. Organic butter from grass fed cows is very beneficial. Use ghee if you are sensitive to dairy. Butter also does not denature at high heat as oils do.