What’s So Bad About Inflammation, Anyway?
Unfortunately, a lot, as Dr. Bill Cole explains.
We already know and love Dr. Will Cole, whose expertise ranges from metaphysical meals to his everyday health tips for men. Lucky for us, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the Cole family. Meet functional health expert Bill Cole, D.C., esteemed cellular health expert — and father to Dr. Will Cole. The doctor of chiropractic medicine is passionate about helping his more than 250 private clients — and over 211,000 social media followers — optimize their health beginning with the building blocks of life itself: the cells.
In order to address the root of issues like fatigue, brain fog, and chronic ailments that range from hormonal imbalance to autoimmune disease, Dr. Cole begins at the cellular level. Having experienced a health decline and then healing, he has since become an expert at facilitating the rēturn to health from a cellular vantage point. His oeuvre talks about the importance of rē-moving the cellular inflammation as the core of disease, rē-framing the lens of disease at a microscopic level.
What Does Inflammation Do to the Cells?
“Almost every disease begins in the body as inflammation at the cell level,” Dr. Cole tells rē•spin. “It really just depends on what cells in the body are being impacted that will determine what disease manifests.” He goes on to explain that inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or damage. While it is useful and necessary in temporary phases for “partitioning” off the injured area — bringing, for instance, white blood cells to help “clean up” damaged tissues and to promote healing, inflammation becomes problematic when the inflammatory response fails to shut off.
Prolonged inflammation is thus what is detrimental to health and the start of certain diseases, causing dysfunction at the cellular level. “Cells that are chronically inflamed create a barrier at the cell membrane that won’t allow the raw materials needed for cell function — like nutrients and hormones — to enter them in adequate amounts,” Dr. Cole says. “Chronic inflammation on the cell membrane also won’t allow waste or toxins generated by cell metabolism to escape the cell normally, which causes the cells to become toxic over time.” It cuts off the capacity of cells to be nourished and detox, two of the fundamental elements of cellular metabolism, creating a barrier to health on a basic biological level.
The Most Common Causes + Solutions For Cellular Inflammation
Dr. Cole points out that the most common causes of cell damage and inflammation come via “poor diets loaded with processed sugar and denatured fats such as hydrogenated oils.” Additional causes include exposure to toxins in beauty products, cleaning products, insecticides, and pesticides vis a vis foods, plastics, pollution, and other environmental aggressors. Some of these factors are within our control — like managing what we put into our bodies as nutrition, or onto our bodies as with beauty and personal care products — but not all.
Managing inflammation can take many forms, but one of functional medicine’s most popular ways of doing so is by overhauling the diet intentionally. “We create an anti-inflammatory and healing environment by eliminating processed ‘junk’ foods high in added sugar, as well as foods that contain bad fats like vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, and trans fats,” he says. In addition to dietary choices and minimizing exposure to toxins, Dr. Cole emphasizes that stress management and tending to your mental health, prioritizing sleep, committing to regular exercise, and posture and spinal alignment, are other important ways to help moderate inflammation.
Dr. Cole’s patients subscribe to his “5 R’s of Cellular Healing” methodology. The first ‘R’ is for removing the source. “By this, we mean that we must stop throwing gas on the fire if we want to put the fire out,” he says. “In the case of cellular inflammation, we must remove the things driving chronic inflammation in the body.” As mentioned, sugar, bad fats, and toxins top this list. Once these external aggressors to health have been removed to the extent possible, it empowers the body to function as intended, achieving optimally healthy states more easily. Dr. Cole is adamant that these lifestyle steps are what allow his treatment plans — eating a nutrient-rich, whole food diet, getting adequate exercise and sleep, managing stress, and getting spinal adjustments at the chiropractor — to have an even greater impact.
Who Stands to Benefit?
The types of lifestyle choices that Dr. Cole promotes can benefit virtually everyone. Genetic predisposition does seemingly render certain segments of the population more vulnerable to negative outcomes associated with inflammation. For instance, we already know that some members of the population — like those with the MTHFR genetic mutation — face unique health challenges. But Dr. Cole reminds us that our lifestyle choices matter tremendously when it comes to genetic expression.
“While we are as different on the inside as we are on the outside, and some people may be genetically more resilient, everyone will benefit from consuming a whole food diet rich in nutrients and reducing exposure to toxins,” he says. “While poor lifestyle can turn on bad genes, healthy lifestyle choices can oftentimes turn them off.” He adds that epigenetics — the field of study that explains how genetic traits can be activated or deactivated according to external, lifestyle-related factors — means that the lifestyle choices we make are incredibly important for every single one of us.