Understanding some basics of chronic illness is the key to fixing the problem. The simplest place to start is with the underlying conditions that lead to chronic illness. This is what I call the “Illness Triad” or “Disease Triad”—inflammation, oxidation and acidosis. These three conditions are present in every form of chronic illness and prevent the body from healing and recovering. If we reduce them or even stop them from being out of control, then we can allow the body to heal and stop the progression of chronic illness. But the more advanced chronic illness is, the more we have to do in order to slow down and stop the triad. By the time modern medicine recognises that you have diabetes, blocked arteries or cancer, you have already had potentially decades of high inflammation, oxidation and acidosis.
Although inflammation, oxidation and acidosis (IOA) are natural and essential for a healthy body, they can be seriously problematic if they become chronic and reoccurring as a result of our body being out of balance. Recent studies have established that the three conditions combined are a leading pathogenic force in the development of chronic diseases—including diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases (including asthma and arthritis), osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, dementia and even depression, obesity and premature ageing. A cancer or CVD does not just happen; it occurs because these conditions prevail in the body over a long period of time and create the preconditions for disease states. This does not mean that all these states of disease are caused by IOA, but they will manifest in the body along with these conditions. Depression, for example, may be created initially by a combination of some negative life events and poor nutrition. However, it will manifest in the body with elevated IOA, so any treatment, like cognitive behavior therapy, should also take into account processes to lower IOA. That is why anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrition, exercise and sunlight have shown positive results in reducing the incidence of depression.
These three conditions occur in every stage of chronic illness and are directly related to and influence each other. Oxidation leads to increased acidosis and inflammation, while increased acidosis leads to increased inflammation and oxidation, and so on. The processes are interlinked. For example, a slight increase in acidity (lower pH) increases the formation of free radicals such as perhydroxyl radical, a highly reactive and damaging free radical, and increases the levels of inflammation. The pH directly influences the “redox,” or the balance of free radicals and antioxidants. When one goes up, so do the others. If your body isn’t able to stop the free radical chain reaction, oxidative stress follows, causing damage to cells, cell membranes, tissues and organs. In an attempt to repair such damages, the body calls for an immune response, which in turn initiates inflammation. Chronic inflammation can likewise lead to free radical generation.
There are now hundreds and hundreds of studies on the role of gut health, inflammation and ageing. That is why we are running our next speaking tour in Queensland in August on The Ageing Gut Chronic Illness and the Immune system. Dementia, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis pain and more. So if you have any interested in healthy ageing or the make sure you get along.