The Anti-inflammatory Lifestyle Could Reduce Injuries and Be Key to Employee Health

Chronic or long term inflammation is very often involved in the development of our chronic disease processes. Thirty percent of chronic illness can be attributed to genetic inheritance, but about 70 percent is due to diet lifestyle. Modern diets are making people sicker, but fortunately some relatively minor, painless adjustments can reverse the trend toward chronic disease processes.
Obesity, type-two diabetes, chronic inflammation, and degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, dementia, alzheimer’s, and atherosclerosis leading to heart disease and stroke can all be slowed down and for many, the incidence of certain types of cancer can be reduced.
One of five young adults have measurable findings of early peripheral artery disease (PAD). You have to ask yourself, “Why?” These are young adults are our future employees.
USA Today reported in late September that more U.S. companies are helping employees combat chronic diseases in an effort to cut costs. This is a win-win situation. The employees become healthier with the employer’s assistance, and the employer cuts down health insurance costs and claims because they employ a healthier workforce.
The article reports employers across the United States are looking to trim health insurance costs by combating chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and depression in their employees. The article goes on to say, “Some companies now offer gym access, programs to help people stop smoking, and even on-site medical visits as a way to lower health insurance premiums. ‘For an employer, costs can be as much as 40 percent higher in one year for someone who is overweight because of all the issues associated with obesity, including diabetes, back problems, asthma, depression, and heart disease,’ said Kenneth Thorpe, who co-directs Emory University’s Center on Health Outcomes and Quality.”
A large part of my conservative primary care practice is teaching patients how to prevent the development and even reverse chronic disease. Having a good family history gives me an idea of inherited risk factors, and having a good and honest social history gives me an idea of their lifestyle risk factors. This is the area where we can make great progress in lowering healthcare costs.
Writing for USA Today, author Kelly Kennedy, reports a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation that showed health insurance premiums for families of four increased 9 percent in 2011. She writes that companies “have started to provide on-site medical visits, access to gyms, chronic-care plans, smoking-cessation programs, and even discounts for those who buy a banana rather than a cookie.”
Based on a physical examination and a few objective biomarkers, I can motivate a patient to make changes. It is not unusual to see an obese patient lose a pound and a half to two pounds a week. I routinely see patients with type-two diabetes lower blood sugars and get off some or all of their prescription medications. The same holds true for patients with elevated blood lipids and many with inflammatory arthritis. Employers and insurance companies need to re-evaluate low fees paid to primary care physicians and look down the road to cost savings.
Kennedy, quoting Thorpe, explained in her USA Today article that health care costs can be as much as 40 percent higher in one year for someone who is overweight because of the issues associated with obesity, including diabetes, back problems, asthma, depression, and heart disease.
“Between 8 percent and 20 percent of health care costs is due to the persistent rise in obesity,” Thorpe told Kennedy. “Wellness could make a difference.” As an example, Thorpe cited a study he published in the journal Health Affairs about an evidence-based program that reduced type-two diabetes cases by 71 percent in Medicare beneficiaries older than 60. It could save Medicare $2.3 billion over the next 10 years if pre-diabetic beneficiaries were enrolled, he said.
All of us need to learn the basic components of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. To be healthier and prevent chronic disease I teach patients to focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, only lean meats, oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, lentils, and green leafy vegetables. This type diet is sometimes called a “Paleolithic” or Mediterranean-style diet. It should incorporate some saturated fat from dairy, use olive oil, and minimize vegetable oils because they oxidize and place a burden on the body.


Add some spice to your life. Over 2500 years ago,Hippocrates of Kos (ca 460 BC – ca 360 BC) the father of Western medicine, said “Letfood be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” The food that Hippocrates spoke of included the herbs and spices of his day. The last 20 years of medical research has shown us that some of the nutraceuticals derived from herbs and spices have potent anti-inflammatory properties. These are complex chemical substances that can down regulate the major processes that drive chronic inflammation. The herbs and spices studied include curcumin (yellow curry powder), ginger, cinnamon, hot red pepper, black pepper, clove, garlic, holy basil, coriander and licorice. Adding these types of spices to the diet will help modulate the inflammatory process that leads to many chronic diseases. Curcumin has been found to be particularly potent and protective, it can be used in cooking or simply taken as a capsule with food as a daily supplement.

No one should eat trans fats or high fructose corn syrup. A vegetarian or even vegan diet can also be used if you make sure you are getting adequate protein and Vitamin B12. All of us need extra vitamin D. Likewise, a multivitamin specific to age and gender is helpful, and cultured food like yogurt and kefir provide good bacteria for digestion. A probiotic is often helpful, and fish oil can be added to raise omega 3s.
Associated with the anti-inflammatory lifestyle are some common-sense components. Make sure you get adequate sleep and restorative rest. After age 50, many find 20 to 30 minute naps are helpful to extend the work day and stay productive. Exercise daily (cardiovascular and muscle building) to tolerance, here again, if starting a program, a visit to your primary care provider for guidance if suggested.
The anti-inflammatory lifestyle will slowly minimize body fat. Eat the right foods and use common sense for portion control, many of my patients lose 30 pounds their first year and achieve an ideal weight without trying. Maintain good dental hygiene to prevent infections in the heart and brain.
We should all practice good posture and attend to spinal and joint health. Bone health is a topic for another day. Stay well hydrated; drink plenty of fresh, clean water every day. Try to get sunlight every day, but never let the sun burn your skin. And finally, avoid all tobacco products, and, if you are going to drink, drink only in moderation.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a further incentive late December according to Kennedy. “It asked businesses to participate in a project to show what happens when private insurers coordinate with primary-care physicians to address health issues. This means personalized care plans, electronic records and preventive care, as well as partnerships with large firms that can offer incentives to their employees,” she wrote.  (WCxKit)
She reported that a tire-manufacturer began providing preventive care to all its employees three years ago, as well as chronic-care management for five diseases. Before the program started, only 7 percent of employees received basic care for diabetes but now nearly 100 percent do. That cut health care costs for those patients by about $700 a year, according to the company president. They have seen a 30 percent reduction in employees classified as high-risk for chronic conditions, as well as an increase in people who work out.
Author: Dr. Radford is in private practice. He is a third generation Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine. He earned a Master’s Degree in Advanced Clinical Practice and he provides conservative primary care. He has treated work related injuries for more than 30 years. Dr. Radford has found that treating the co-morbidities that often accompany injured workers like obesity, medication overuse, and addiction lead to a more complete recovery. He was a founding member of the Cleveland Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio.  Contact for more information at or phone: (440)-248-8888.



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