< The Defy Aging Newsletter | Inflammation: The Root Cause of Chronic Diseases

The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

May 21, 2009 Number 209

This issue:

Inflammation: The Root Cause of Chronic Diseases

Action to take

If you haven't had one, get a C-reactive protein test the next time you have your annual physical. It will help you gauge whether you are having serious problems with inflammation. Make adjustments in your diet and lifestyle to reduce inflammation.


Most health and wellness gurus and authors emphasize their niche or try to be "comprehensive" and cover diet and exercise. Dr. Duke Johnson or Dr. Duke as he is often called, presents a very holistic approach with avoiding inflammation as a key integrating concept.

When I read their books and interview experts, I try to focus on what is most unique about the expert and their area of greatest expertise. Consequently, time did not permit going into all of the issues and recommendations Dr. Johnson covers in his new book, The Optimal Health Revolution Here is the essence:

A century ago, most Americans died from acute illnesses. Today modern medicine can prevent or cure most acute illnesses. We also are better educated, more informed, and have more money to take care of ourselves. Consequently it is the chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes that kill most Americans.

In conducting research on C-reactive protein, Dr. Johnson found that virtually all of the chronic diseases were associated with high C-reactive protein levels and with inflammation. Inflammation is the way your body rallies to fight toxic substances and infections. Thus it is essential to healing. Just as adrenalin has important survival value for dealing with emergencies (like fighting or fleeing) but becomes unhealthy when your body reacts as if there were an emergency 24/7, inflammation becomes a problem when it is a chronic state.

While there are many markers for inflammation, C-reactive protein is the best known and most available. If you don't request it, however, most physicians don't order it.

In the last decade, researchers are increasingly converging on inflammation as the common denominator of chronic diseases. We also are seeing a convergence on the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest diet. I note, however, that few people in Mediterranean countries currently are following that diet anymore. Thus the Mediterranean diet refers to how they used to eat. We need to be following the Mediterranean principles and not the current practices.

Good nutrition is a key to preventing and reducing inflammation. Researchers are also converging on exercise and managing stress well as keys to preventing inflammation and achieving optimal health. I really like way Dr. Johnson not only underscores stress but ties it to a sense of purpose and how well your use of time fits with your values and purpose. Researchers are also increasingly emphasizing the importance of sleep.

While I increasingly find researchers citing inflammation as the root cause of chronic disease, Dr. Johnson's book was the first time I saw an integration of what that means. The Optimal Health Revolution also presents one of the best integrations of what to do to reduce inflammation.

Some specific take aways from my interview with Dr. Johnson are to, at least once, include a C-reactive protein test in your physicals, avoid high fructose corn syrup, and choose whole grain rather than multi-grain. I also note that in his book Dr.Johnson recommended investing in a whole house water filter. I heartily agree. Including the plumbing bill, you should be able to do this for about $600 and about $15 a month for filters and charcoal material.

You can hear the free 50 minute podcast of my interview with Dr. Johnson at Ageless Lifestyles® LLC.


The best doctors in the world are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet, and Dr. Merryman.

~Jonathan Swift

Every disease is a physician.

~Irish proverb


I have a great diet. You are allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people.

~Ed Bluestone

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