Ask Chuck: Can your diet cause inflammation?

June 13, 2013 at 1:13 a.m.

By Charles Colson

Charles, I have heard lately from different health reports that our diet has a possibility of creating unnecessary inflammation problems. To me, this almost sounds inconceivable. Do you massage therapists study such subjects?

Oh yes, that and much more. Massage therapy training is so interesting that we were told when we completed our courses that we were one-third of the way through a nursing degree.

To best answer your question, it has been very well explained in a publication called "To Your Health - Massage Today."

We all know we should avoid consumption of certain foods such as processed foods, sugar, caffeine, etc. So, are there foods in our diet that can help us with a healing process? Yes, certain foods can help protect your body against inflammation.

Inflammation can be a factor in several chronic conditions including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer, obesity and Alzheimer's disease. Our immune system cells guard against infection and help to repair injuries. This all occurs when these cells begin to attack healthy organs and joints.

Foods that help reduce inflammation include Omega-3 fats found in walnuts, tuna, and salmon, for examples. Also important are antioxidants found in blueberries, spinach and sweet potatoes; probiotics from eating yogurts; and fiber from apples, black beans and artichokes. Hungry yet?

Now, there are foods that promote inflammation, which include trans fats, saturated fats and high levels of Omega-6 fats found in corn oil, peanut oil and grapeseed oil.

A perfect example of an anti-inflammatory diet is the Mediterranean diet program because of its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains. The Mayo Clinic highly endorses this diet because of its impact of reducing heart disease. So, is it really true that we are what we eat?

I know they say that massages help reduce tension headaches. I don't have them all the time, but it seems like it happens around 3 p.m. the days that I do. I guess it's because I work with computers constantly at my job. Do you have any suggestions about just taming these headaches down?

Excellent question. Oftentimes, I feel my neck and shoulders tighten when I have been on a computer for even more than an hour. We have all experienced the 3 p.m. tension headaches caused from a day of deadlines, pressure and stress.

This is true no matter whether we are male or female. It all starts as a band of pressure forming when your neck, shoulder and scalp are tense. Yes, I did say scalp. This group of muscles - when in a tense situation - reacts together to give us that perfect tension headache problem.

These headaches can become quite painful and make it difficult to work on the tasks at hand. If you suffer with tension headaches more than twice a week, Harvard Medical School recommends four steps to help keep them under control.

First, they advise that you never skip meals and get enough sleep so you can pace yourself and avoid stress and fatigue as much as possible. They also suggest the regular practice of relaxing techniques such as applying a heating pad to the neck and shoulder muscles as well as regular exercise.

Biofeedback is another suggested alternative. According to a Harvard report, "This relaxation technique requires special training but can help us avoid recurrent tension headaches.

The fourth step is to seek medical attention if you find the headaches persists. I guess this is where I suggest finding a professional massage therapist who is trained in reducing these and other problems you may be facing.

The therapists can offer vital information on how to relax and make it comfortable for your body. Remember, no pain no gain is not always the perfect solution. So call one of us, and we will be happy to walk you through this process. And you won't believe how simple your life can become.

I bet since you massage therapists work as much with skin conditions as well as muscle control, you have good suggestions for us if we want to start getting tans. Am I right?

Very much so. A good professional massage therapist uses only the best of oils and lotions for your skin. Let's say you are starting the process of tanning - and I do mean starting and not thinking you can get that perfect tan all in one day safely.

The oils and lotions we apply are perfectly designed to nourish and enhance the elasticity of the skin. This, in turn, keeps it healthy when applied evenly. So, let us help you keep your skin in good condition so when its tanned, it will not look burned or blistered. You will just be envied by many. Keep your summer safe and less harmful and treat your body with wisdom.

Charles Colson is an area hair stylist and registered massage therapist. You may email hair or massage questions to or call 361-575-5331.



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