Posted by: seattledizzygroup | March 31, 2016

Reducing Inflammation

Decreasing Chronic Inflammation Naturally

by Heather Flood, ND, MS, LAc

of Bastyr Center for Natural Health

(Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 3/12/16)

This presentation gives an overview of the inflammatory process and offers natural ways to reduce excess inflammation in order to improve health and help manage the symptoms of a chronic vestibular or balance disorder (which may be caused by or exacerbated by chronic inflammation–for example, Meniere’s vertigo attacks, migraines, tinnitus, etc.).

Purpose of Inflammation

Normal and Important Process for:

  • Removing damaged tissues
  • Fighting microbial invaders
  • Eliminating abnormal cells
  • Recruiting white blood cells to injured area to allow for recovery

We couldn’t survive without this necessary process!

Too Much of a Good Thing?

  • Indiscriminant cell destruction
  • Chronic inflammation

Symptoms of Excess Inflammation

  • Chronic red eyes and runny nose
  • Dry skin, especially behind the ears and around the nose and eyebrows
  • Fluid retention
  • Allergies
  • Pain and stiffness in the morning
  • Swollen ankles
  • Unexplained abdominal pain
  • Chronic low level fatigue and pain

Causes of Excess Inflammation

Excessive Inflammatory Stimulation

  • Environmental allergens
  • Foods: additives, oxidized fats, high AGE
  • Medications (acetaminophen, allopurinol, barbiturates, etc.)
  • UV, x-rays, radon, tobacco smoke, obesity
  • Trauma

Excessive Inflammatory Response to Damage

  • Fats
    • Arachidonic acid
    • Too few Omega-3s, too many Omega-6s
    • Trans fats
  • Excess sugar
  • Food additives
  • Allergens

Poor Inflammation Quenching

  • Inadequate anti-oxidants
  • Inadequate liver detoxification
  • Inadequate sleep (increases Interleukin-6, elevates C-Reactive Protein)

Ways to Reduce Excess Inflammation


  • Standard American Diet (SAD)
    • Excess sugar
    • Excess Arachidonic acid (Omega-6)
    • Insufficient Omega-3
    • Processed foods
  • Allergies
  • Foundations of Health
    • Hydration
    • Sleep
    • Exercise
    • Quit smoking

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Sugar/Glycemic Load

Sugar greatly increases inflammation.

Study of 200 healthy women measured effect of glycemic load and found significant and positive association with increased C-Reactive Protein. (Liu S, et al. Am J Clin Nurt. 2002)

Dutch study of 1000 men and women found association with glycemic load and C-Reactive Protein. (Du H, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008)

*C-Reactive Protein measures general levels of inflammation in the body.

Pro-Inflammatory Fats

  • All fats provide 9 kilocalories per gram
  • But which ones have positive effects?

ProInflammatory Fats

Trans Fats

  • Mostly made from food processing call partial hydrogenation
    • Shortening and stick margarine
    • Most processed foods
  • Increases LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL
  • Studies show it is linked to cancer, obesity, metabolism issues, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, depression and reduced cognition

Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats

  • Tells us about “stability”, how likely it is to be oxidized (Saturated fat is more “stable” than unsaturated fat)
  • How many binding sites it has open
  • Fats with fewer open binding sites are more stable – they’re less likely to let a free radical oxidize them by stealing an electron
  • Oxidized fats speed up aging and create inflammation

The Three Types of Fat from Most Stable to Least:

Saturated Fats

  • All the binding sites are filled
  • Every seat on the bus is taken
    • A free radical can’t get in anywhere to grab an electron and oxidize the fat
  • Solid at room temperature
    • Animal sources: beef, pork, butter, full-fat dairy products
  • Increases LDL cholesterol = Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Monounsaturated Fats

  • One seat open!
  • Relatively stable, but not as stable as saturated fats
  • Liquid at room temperature
    • Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, sesame oil
  • Reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL)

Polyunsaturated Fats

  • Least stable, very open for oxidation
    • Poly = “many” seats available
  • Omega-3
    • Salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, flaxseed, walnuts, sunflower seeds, leafy vegetables
  • Omega-6
    • Peanut oil
    • Poultry, eggs, grains, soybean, canola oil, safflower oil, mayonnaise
  • Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio should be between 1:1 and 3:1

American Diet

  • Omega-6:Omega-3 = 15:1
  • High in added sugar and processed foods.

Diet Recap

  • The types of foods that we eat are important.
  • Good fats are beneficial.
  • Saturated and trans fats increase risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Proper Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is important to prevent increased inflammation. (Goal: between 1:1 and 3:1)
  • Diet should be 30-50% fat (mostly Omega-3s, low saturated fat).
  • Include protein at every meal.
  • Reduce or avoid added sugar and processed foods.

Mediterranean Diet

  • Studied for its effects on lipids and cholesterol
  • Evidence it has positive effects on lowering insulin levels and decreasing blood pressure
  • It is anti-inflammatory

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

  • Multi-colored fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains and nuts for a fiber source
    • Short-grain brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth
    • Almonds, walnuts, pecans, hemp seed, sunflower seeds
  • Roughly 30% of calories from fat, mostly EVOO and cold water fish
  • Modest saturated fats from dairy and land animals
  • Low in refined sugars
  • Moderate consumption of EtOH, usually from red wine


  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Cinnamon
  • Mint
  • Chili peppers
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro

Mediterranean Diet Document

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Document

Pesticides in Produce

Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends buying organic produce whenever possible in order to reduce exposure to pesticides. However, organics are not accessible or affordable for everyone, so the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen shopping lists help consumers make the healthiest choices given their circumstances. Conventionally grown produce is still better than not eating fruits and vegetables. (

Clean Fifteen

  • Asparagus
  • Avocadoes
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pinapples
  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes

Dirty Dozen

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Snap Peas
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • +Hot Peppers & Kale/Collard Greens

Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce


Food Allergy + Food Sensitivity + Seasonal Allergy = Total Inflammatory Load

(The body responds to high levels of inflammation like a cup being filled beyond its capacity to overflowing causing negative health impacts)

Food Intolerance/Sensitivity

  • Can cause IBS or Leaky Gut
  • Elimination Diet (eliminate foods for period of time, usually a few weeks, and then reintroduce foods one by one to test tolerance)
  • IgG Food Allergy Panel (blood test for antibodies–not always accurate, but can be a helpful starting place)
  • If Food Allergy = AVOID these foods completely!
  • If Food Sensitivity, then try Rotation Diet (only eat foods that cause sensitivity once in a while)
  • Other Diets to Try: Anti-Inflammatory, Paleo, Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP), Low FODMAP, SCD, GAPS, No Nightshades, etc. (Requires trial and error exploration to find what works best for you)

Allergy Relief

  • Natural Anti-histamines
    • Nettles, Querctitin, Vitamin C
  • Hygiene
    • Neti Pot
    • Home Hygiene (change pillow cases frequently, change sheets weekly, no shoes in the house, etc.)

Foundations of Health


  • 1/3 of your body weight in ounces (plus an additional glass of water for every caffeinated or alcoholic drink)
    • Flush out toxins
    • Keep cells supple
  • Drink non-caffeinated beverages like herbal teas (green tea or “decaffeinated” tea/coffee have caffeine and are dehydrating)
  • Eat hydrating foods (like watermelon) and drink coconut water or electrolyte water 
  • Drink plenty of water even if you are taking a diuretic (as for Meniere’s Disease or Hydrops)–your kidneys will absorb what hydration your body needs and the diuretic will get rid of the excess. A potassium-sparing diuretic may help keep you hydrated. 


  • It is important to get good sleep!
  • Decreased sleep increases inflammation.
  • Sleep is when our bodies repair themselves.
  • Extreme fatigue is a result of total inflammatory load
  • Deep/refreshing sleep decreases Interleukin-6 and C-Reactive Protein (indicators of inflammation in the body)


More Information About Reducing Inflammation:

Tips to Fight Inflammation with Food

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Inflammation

Heather Flood, ND, MS, LAc

of Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Dr. Flood is a first-year resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, providing supervision and clinical training to student physicians in the Department of Naturopathic Medicine. She also sees patients in private practice at Bastyr Center, where she integrates her western and eastern medical training.

Dr. Flood’s areas of expertise include integrative primary care medicine, physical medicine, pain management, acupuncture and East Asian herbal therapeutics. Her clinical interests are preventive medicine, women’s health, pediatrics, chronic disease management, diabetes, cardiovascular medicine, autoimmune disease, gastroenterology, endocrinology and mental health.

Dr. Flood believes in the human body’s propensity toward health and strives to encourage and promote its innate healing capacity through individualized medicine. By focusing on a holistic approach and addressing the physical, mental and emotional components, she is better able to identify the root cause of illness, allowing her to tailor treatments and interventions so they are best suited for each individual’s needs. She firmly believes in educating and empowering patients to understand their bodies and participate in their wellness.

More information about Dr. Flood



Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


Post updated April 13, 2016

© Copyright 2016, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


  1. […] 2016, we had guest speakers on the topics of Reducing Inflammation, Vestibular Testing & Assessment, and Vision […]

Leave a Reply to Stronger Together in 2017 | Seattle Dizzy Group Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Seattle Dizzy Group

Providing support & community for people living with chronic dizziness & imbalance -- in Seattle & beyond

%d bloggers like this: