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Understanding the Role of Gut Inflammation on Core Health (Part Two)

Inflammation is at the heart of chronic pain, especially pelvic pain. The goal in treating any myofascial pain should be to reduce inflammation in the gut or avoid inflammation in the first place. Science is now catching up and pointing to the source of most disease and illness: INFLAMMATION.

The immune system is the governing system for all other systems in the body and responds like a dial; increasing or dialing up when there is inflammation and decreasing when there is no threat. Inflammation in the digestive system can lead to acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or diarrhea and disease. Inflammation in the musculoskeletal system can lead to myofascial trigger points that cause pain and dysfunction. Many experts now agree that the balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut, known as the microbiome, influences the immune response and is responsible for a leaky gut and its effects. Since the cell membrane of the intestinal wall is only one cell layer thick, essential nutrients can leak out due to the increase in permeability. This can cause illness, disease and food allergies and sensitivities. It can even affect the brain when there is inflammation in the neurological system that can lead to depression, irritability and psychological disease.

Here are some suggestions for reducing inflammation in your diet:

1. Eat plants and avoid food made in a plant or factory. If you must eat packaged or processed products, avoid foods with a long list of ingredients. Anything artificial or something produced in a plant or factory is not something our digestive systems know how to process. For example, opt for plain potato chips with only three ingredients instead of flavored and choose sweet or purple potatoes over white potatoes.

2. Avoid sugar, MSG (monosodium glutamate) or artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame and high fructose corn syrup. Our bodies were not designed to digest everything our modern diet contains, especially genetically modified (GMO) and processed foods and pesticides. Our gut responds by fighting off the intruder with white blood cells, which increases inflammation. This inflammation negatively affects every system in our body, including the musculoskeletal system, in the form of myofascial trigger points that disrupt function and cause pain. Treating individuals with pelvic pain and understanding the viscerosomatic reflex, it is evident that gut inflammation leads to pelvic pain.

3. Eat organic, when possible. For example, pesticides on fruits and vegetables and on certain grains, like wheat, corn and soy can trigger inflammation and is a good reason to choose organic and non-GMO produce. Not all food has to be organic. Eating healthy is expensive and you can either pay now or pay later with expensive prescription medication or surgery. Generally if produce has a thick skin that gets peeled like avocado, bananas and oranges, it doesn't have to be organic. Click here for the DIRTY DOZEN list and for more tips on eating organic. Some recommended fruits and vegetables for a healthy core include apples, avocados, beets, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chives, cucumbers, dates, green beans, leafy greens, olives, mushrooms, parsley, pears, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, squash and watermelon.

4. Adopt a Mediterranean diet, where lean meat is a side dish and beans, red wine and olives are encouraged. along with omega-3 fatty acids like fish and salmon. This dietary lifestyle has been shown to be effective at reducing inflammation. When eating meat, choose organic, grass-fed meat. Adding anti-inflammatory foods including ginger root, turmeric and carrots along with probiotic cultured vegetables can help improve the microbiome. There are also natural anti-inflammatory properties in certain foods such as cinnamon, olive oil, coconut oil and certain fruits and vegetables. In some cases, a probiotic supplement may be necessary to heal the gut. Anti-inflammation smoothies are easy to make and taste great. See our Facebook page for the recipe pictured above. Vitamins like B and D can also be helpful anti-inflammatories. Apple cider vinegar with the "mother" is also a staple in our home. We mix one teaspoon in 8 ounces of filtered water for an anti-inflammatory effect to prevent illness and to reduce acid reflux naturally. In addition, we are given clues about what foods are helpful, as discovered in God's Natural Pharmacy, such as a walnut that looks like a mini brain and helps brain function and an avocado that looks like a womb (uterus) with a large seed (baby) that helps balance hormones. For more information, click here.

5. Reduce grains in your diet. Many diets recommend removing all grains including gluten from the diet including Whole 30, paleo and ketogenic diets, while consumption of healthy fats is encouraged. Amy Myers, M.D. is also a good resource for curing auto immune disease that is triggered by diet and she recommends eliminating wheat, corn, potato, rice and grains from the diet to reduce inflammation in the presence of autoimmune and other diseases. If you consume grains, we recommend a rotation diet. For example, if you consume rice one day, avoid it for two days to avoid an immune response.

6. Add collagen protein to your diet in the form of bone broth or collagen protein. Collagen heals the lining of the gut and can promote a healthy immune response. You can make your own bone broth or purchase frozen bone broth from a local grocery or health food store; preservatives and yeast are often added to bone broth that has a long shelf life so I recommend avoiding non-perishable bone broth found on a shelf. Add bone broth as a soup base or sip on it when you are feeling run down, fighting an infection or healing from surgery. Bone broth is also made into powders that you can add to coffee, smoothies or water. It is allowed during periods of intermittent fasting as it contributes to gut healing.

7. Go on an elimination diet. Eliminate one food or allergen for 3 weeks. Observe changes in your symptoms with a food diary. Re-test your body's sensitivity by adding it back into your diet for one week and observe and record any symptoms.

8. Get help from an expert in inflammation, allergies and/or functional medicine to restore your microbiome. Getting to the root cause and heart of inflammation is essential. This can save you time and money in the long run by learning what foods trigger inflammation for you and what supplements and dietary changes you should make.

Consuming foods that increase gut inflammation and the immune system response can dial up inflammation and trigger myofascial trigger points that appear to turn on like a light switch. I like to compare it to a dormant volcano that doesn't cause any harm until it becomes active and erupts. Muscle tightness can turn into radiating pain and the aftermath what I call a "food hangover" which can take about 48-72 hours to leave the body through elimination. By avoiding the allergens in the diet that contribute to inflammation, you can eliminate the effects of myofascial trigger points. Be careful with food contamination and eating out. Unfortunately, I have suffered unnecessarily from contamination and eating at restaurants, despite asking questions and requesting a gluten-free menu. I know which restaurants are allergy-friendly, unless I am traveling and am not familiar with the area. Do your research and choose "farm to table" restaurants and cafes. Pack you own food, just in case you cannot find a grocery store with the items that are safe. Learn from other bloggers and professionals who have written at length on this subject. Why reinvent the wheel? See below for references.

In recent years, one of my greatest discoveries in reducing inflammation is through Integrative Dry Needling therapy. Before I learned about dry needling, strict modifications of my diet reduced daily tension headaches, but once a month I still suffered with a two-day cyclical migraine before the onset of my menstrual cycle. I have discovered that if I receive a dry needling treatment and elicit a local twitch response through deeper needling of my hips to reduce the inflammation BEFORE it occurs, I can avoid the migraine altogether. This has really altered the way I think about inflammation and chronic pain. Reducing inflammation through modifications of my diet AND dry needling has almost completely eliminated my musculoskeletal pain, without the use of medications. Without adding dry needling to my practice, I would have not been able to reduce pain and inflammation for myself, members of my family, athletes and others in our community. For more information about Integrative Dry Needling therapy and to find a provider in your area, click here.

In summary:

1. Avoid processed foods and hard to pronounce ingredients

2. Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, GMO products and high fructose corn syrup

3. Eat organic when possible

4. Adopt a Mediterranean diet and supplement your diet with essential nutrients

5. Reduce and/ or rotate grains in your diet

6. Add collagen protein to your diet

7. Go on an elimination diet

8. Get help from an expert to restore your microbiome

Core muscle function is dependent on a healthy gut. The Healthy Core Plan addresses inflammation: Identify, Eliminate, Restore. Identify the culprit or food that increases inflammation. This is a trial and error process and can take awhile to figure out without professional help. Eliminate allergens or triggers from your diet. Some experts recommend 3 weeks, 6 weeks (FODMAP diet) and others recommend waiting 8 weeks or more before reintroducing it back into your system, one food at a time, to determine its effect. Lastly, restore your gut with good bacteria to balance out the good and bad bacteria. This can be accomplished through probiotics and through consumption of cultured vegetables and food, such as organic plain yogurt, kefir, kombucha and/or sauerkraut. A healthy gut is possible and will lead to improved overall health, prevent disease and improve core muscle function. After all, the core muscular system does not exist in a vacuum and is affected by what you eat. Choose wisely for a healthy core!


The Integrative Women's Health Institute. Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition For Pelvic Pain.

Lecture Notes from the Institute For Brain Potential, Preventing and Managing Chronic Inflammation: Special Focus: Nutritional Interventions (2014) presented by Nicholas Hall, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, University of South Florida.

Myers, Amy, M.D. (2015). The Auto-Immune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases.

Perlmutter, David, M.D (2015). Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain - For Life.

Dr. Mark Hyman, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. (leaky gut)

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