Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Medicine Can Treat. Why Can’t It Cure or Prevent?

Prescription for all diseases: Anti-inflammatory Shock Treatment

Cancer death rates may be finally slowing. Why has it taken so long? Medicine has some cobbled-together treatments for allergies, asthma, Alzheimer’s and atherosclerosis, but all of these are still increasing. Cures and prevention are always ten years away. Something is fundamentally wrong with medicine and the fatal flaw is obvious in the biomedical literature. Causes are not mentioned. Treatments are tested and evaluated. Pharmaceuticals are developed for therapy, not for cures.

Examination of medical websites reveals a public interested in why they get sick, but there is no explanation. There is a recent tendency connected to the concept of personal medical solutions, to attribute sickness to the unique genetics of the individual. Certainly there are some molecular genetic diseases, but this obscures the issue. In most cases the genetics only gives a predisposition. Biomedical research does not pursue why some people get the disease and others with the same genes do not.

The research literature shows abundant evidence that various diets and lifestyles dominate the outcome in health, but the medical industry fails to apply these factors. Why should someone spend a lifetime on drugs, if two weeks of intensive diet/lifestyle therapy provides a cure? Is a surgical intervention preferable over a gut flora exchange?

There is compelling evidence that chronic inflammation due to diet and lifestyle is the foundation for most degenerative and autoimmune diseases, and yet simple changes to avoid or eliminate inflammation are not emphasized by doctors to prevent or cure most diseases. It is quite possible to design a one-size-fits-all primary treatment for all diseases, an “Anti-inflammatory Shock Treatment.“ It would be a two week controlled diet and exercise program that provided the anti-inflammatory benefits of controlled carbohydrates, adequate protein, balanced omega-3/6 fatty acids, anti-oxidants, vitamins, exercise and meditation. Careful control of probiotic gut flora would be a priority. This system could be designed based on current research and would be generally applicable. The prescribed system for each patient would match severity of the disease with intensity of the anti-inflammatory intervention.


Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi. I'm not into writing blogs, but I found yours via Rosso (who I know from another site).

It's good to find someone who knows what they're talking about!

I'm an ex-electronic engineer who's taken an interest in diet & nutrition, with positive results.

I keep all my diet & nutrition information on a MySpace page (with no hideous graphics or music). If you'd like to critique anything that I've written, do drop in and critique away.

Cheers, Nige.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I took a quick look at your diet advice. It is all consistent with what I suggest on this site. The only quibble that I see is flax and other short chain omega-3 oils. Your body can lengthen them to the effective EPA and DHA, but your brain can't use them directly for anything but energy. You are also lucky that where you live, you aren't drenched in corn, soy, etc. omega-6 vegetable oils. Most processed food and even unexpected canned vegetables/fish/meat have added bad vegetable oils and HFCS.
Eat well and exercise!

Anna said...

My husband is a biomedical research scientist (in San Diego). So I'm not a scientist myself, but I do get a "ringside" view. What I see frustrates me to no end. So much focus on developing drugs and treatment (or surgeries/invasive procedures) and seemingly none on prevention and appropriate lifestyle interventions.

I've experienced this myself as a patient, too. A few years ago I realized I have to figure things out on my own in order to make sure that any medical care/advice I receive is not only going to be effective, but also to make sure it won't be deleterious in some way. Either some drug I don't feel is the best approach is being pushed on me (usually to manage symptoms), or a medication/treatment/test I do feel I need won't be prescribed or approved. And in the last 5 years or so since I've "taken back" the responsibility for preserving, maintaining, and enhancing my health, I have a much better track record than my doctors.

Much of what I have determined to being my best interests is exactly as you describe in your anti-inflammatory diet. But some of it sure is a hard sell with my doctors and acquaintances.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I am a professional skeptic, so I am innocently shocked when MDs try to take responsibility for the health of my family. They are quite ignorant of the biomedical literature and yet they pose as authorities? I remember one of the funniest moments was when I was told by our pediatrician, that my daughter would never learn to use a fork, if we persisted in letting her stuff food in her mouth with her tiny fists. He became red in the face when my wife and I laughed at him. He couldn't provide a single literature citation to support his hypothesis!

jean said...

Since this is an old post, I'm not sure anyone will see it, but here goes:
I was listening to an interview with Gary Taubes discussing the reception of his book 'Good Calories Bad Calories'. Total indifference. He was BEGGING researchers to read it. He and the interviewer went on to discuss the repercussions of the medical establishment ADMITTING that the advice they have foisted on the public is not only wrong, but that that advice has caused untold death and disease.
Medicine doesn't have enough courage.
I also think this is related to the 'Doctor as God' syndrome, which, as a longtime nurse, I am well acquainted with.
Thanks for the discussions you hold with us. They are illuminating and invaluable in spreading the word about our mainstream damaging diets.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Thanks for your comments.

I watch all of my posts for comments. So never fear. I will hear and respond. Your post also shows up on recent comments.

I think that the biggest problem with medicince, is that it doesn't do what people expect or think it is doing. People think that doctors listen to their problems and are sincerely interested in helping to improve their lives. In reality, it is closer to prostitution in which a service is provided and only an illusion of care is paid for and provided. It is telling that doctors do not follow up on their diagnosis and treatment plans. They are uninterested in knowing if the patient improves.

Vitamin D deficiencies, for example, are rampant and dangerous, but doctors seldom check. When they identify a deficiency they prescribe supplements that are insufficient to cure the deficiency and never measure again to discover if the patient is still deficient. This is totally bizarre when doctors are chastised for routinely ordering tests that are unnecessary.

This points out that patients have made doctors the way that they are by respecting their degree and not requiring performance in healing. It is enough for most patients to just unburden themselves of their complaints and receive a laying on of hands. Knowledge and common sense is not required.

Patients are shocked when they have a bad outcome and sue as a result. Patients don't take responsibility for their own health, but pay doctors to accept that responsibility.

Fortunately for doctors, the pharmaceutical industry and patients, most people benefit from the natural ability of their bodies to heal, so little competence is required. This is also why so many drugs don't actually work -- anti-depressants are a documented example. The question is why patients pay so much for a system that doesn't work.

Tanya said...

This is page 2 of a three page article. I found the info on blood tests, including cytokine panel, quite intriguing. The only thing I read (quickly) that seemed to disagree with what is being said here is the arachnoid acid issue (avoid overconsumption of beef, eggs, dairy...but no info as to what constitutes overconsumption.)
However, if there is more that is offbase, feel free to remove this comment.

Anonymous said...

Dear Art

I maybe your outlier. I am a neurosurgeon who focuses in on spine issues. Over the last three yrs the focus of my practiced has changed dramatically to prevention diet exercise smoking prevention and I really get deep into metabolism. The line I use now with patients is this......My job as a doc is deliver you good health care. It is your job to make the healthy choices. If the decisions are congruent on both sides this will be a profitable relationship. You will also be glad to hear I began getting Vit D levels and estrogen and Testosterone levels on most patients and I have just completed an article that I think will shake up my field when and if it gets published in Spine. I will my eye on you but I would strongly recommend that you dont paint us all with a broad brush. There are many of us out there fighting the dogma and the policy of the food industry and pharma industry.

Dr. K

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Dr. K,
Some of my best friends are MDs... No, that's not actually true, but I have encouraged a lot of my best students to go into medicine to become healers.

I have great respect for MDs who actually try to cure rather than just treat their patients and I realize that standard practice makes seeking a cure problematical.

I would enjoy your input and would appreciate knowing when my speculation strains credibility. I also have some questions about how stimulation of heat/cold sensory neurons of the skin can trigger anti-inflammatory signaling. This is supposed to involve vagus nerves, but what about the odd nervous system of the face? Will the face respond the same way? Is this actually a reflex via the spine? What type of cells are responding to the neurotransmitters that initiate the anti-inflammatory response?

I am supportive of healers, but a critic of the medical business model.

Thanks for your comments.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I have some prejudices about acid reflux. I think that your comments were deleted by the spam filter, since you made several corrections close together??

My impression of recent studies is that persistent acid reflux, i.e. GERD, is caused by a bacterial infection rather than changes in stomach acid production. Half of people with GERD also have Helicobacter pylori infections. Using proton pump inhibitors helps H. pylori to spread and kill the acid producing cells of the stomach, so stomach acid production is reduced. People with GERD have an infection by another bacterium in the cardia, the junction of esophagus and stomach that serves as a valve. Inflammation of the infected cardia stops the cardia from functioning properly. Acid alone cannot duplicate the symptoms.

As you indicated, higher stomach acid helps to decrease the time that food is in the stomach. Calcium antiacids actually increase the acidity and thereby increase emptying.

There are mechanical and behavioral reasons for temporary heartburn. These can be alleviated by making sure that your last meal is several hours from bed time. Wikipedia has many suggestions.
I would suggest trying to lengthen the time between dinner and breakfast instead of many small meals. I also wouldn't get concerned about Hp infections, since those are usually benign and actually associated with good T reg production. I would suspect that the acid reflux is just transitory as your gut flora sort out your new diet. It is a significant change in hydrogen and short chain fatty acids metabolism.

Thanks for your comments and questions.

Jack said...

Dr Ayers,

I was just reading your response again and I really think you may be on to something. That might sound like a strange comment but I say that because nobody else is coming up with an explanation like that. When I research GERD and heartburn, I get a mish mash of the same-o same-o theories, and so I am left unsatisfied. Your comments about the infection playing the role of causation and how acid alone cannot be the actual 'cause' but more so the factor that might exacerbate the real issue... now that I can work with.

You say not to be too concerned about Hp infection... but will my body fight this off? I still definitely feel the heat in my chest. Spreading around the Hp sounds backwards to me so I've been off the Nexium for 2 days now. I read this post on WAPF about nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers…) possibly playing a role, but I’ve eaten that stuff all my life without issue, so I dunno. I'm really looking for a way to alleviate the discomfort the *right* way. I feel very strong and healthy otherwise, and I began taking a digestive enzyme complex before each meal last night.

Thanks again Art,

Jack said...

Ok sorry for the double post. I am happy to say that your comments have led me in the right direction for sure. I love it when that happens. Persistence pays off!

Chris Kesser, from has produced a stellar series on GERD/Heartburn:


It centers around exactly what you said, an overgrowth of H. pylori. It's an excellent series, and I am now very thankful that I got off the Nexium after only 3 days. I'm glad I took it, cause it helped me identify the problem. Now I know what to do!

Thanks again Dr Ayers!

Steve said...

Here's a (semi) recent article (july) showing what you have already pointed out regarding H. pylori, thought others might be interested:

Thanks for all your awesome work Dr. Ayers


Anonymous said...

Interesting New York Times article re study for possible treatment of Alzheimer's: