The play between anti-inflammatory myokines produced by muscle and inflammatory cytokines produced by fat is the true definition of health. When this critical balance gets disrupted by lifestyle choices, disease starts to happen. Chiropractors who test and offer support attract a lot of new patient referrals.
Muscle is an Active Endocrine Organ that Produces Anti-inflammatory Myokines
All of the tissues in our patient’s bodies are to some extent based on their behavior and lifestyle choices, and are in competition with each other. How patients organize their lifestyles determines which tissue gets the competitive advantage. There is an interplay and a competition between muscle and fat, particularly abdominal fat that makes patients apple shaped. This fat is particularly oriented towards producing inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha, and interleukin-1, known to be elevated in people that develop cancer.
Researchers discovered that muscle was also an active endocrine organ that produced a type of “cytokine” of its own which they ended up terming myokines, the most researched one being interleukin-6, or IL-6. What they found was that myokines in general are very anti-inflammatory and produce effects that counter the metabolic syndrome.
For instance myokines increase a patient’s insulin sensitivity, glucose uptake inside the muscle, liberate fat from adipose cells and help to burn fat within skeletal muscle. In addition, myokines act as chemical messengers that inhibit the release and the effect of the inflammatory cytokines that are produced by body fat. They also reduce body fat irrespective of calorie intake and have a fat-reducing effect that exists outside of energy balance.
One of the major ways patients are going to get and remain healthy is by the lifestyles they lead and that’s why it’s so important that chiropractors champion adding lifestyle modifications to their regular chiropractic treatment plans.
It’s also very important to stress to patients that exercise alone is only one component of a healthy lifestyle. Several additional ways patients give the wrong competitive advantage to body fat is by consuming too many inflammatory foods, having poor sleep habits and living with too much stress, all of which combine to create inflammatory cytokines. We need to emphasize to patients that they can’t exercise their way out of poor lifestyle choices. A patient can’t produce enough myokines by building extra muscle that will outcompete the inflammatory effects of an abundance of poor lifestyle choices.
Chiropractors Should Measure the Interplay Between Body Fat and Muscle Mass
Since typically there is little to no pain associated with excess body fat, and the chronic inflammation it produces, a non-invasive way to “objectively” measure the affect is by evaluating two Metabolic Risk Factors:
- Saliva pH, (Acid/Alkaline Balance)
- Body Fat Mass (Body Inflammation & Chronic Pain Status)
In order to measure the level of muscle mass two additional Metabolic Risk Factors should be measured, they are:
- Body Cell Mass, (Body Function – Living Cells)
- Extracellular Mass, (Body Structure – Non-Living Cells)
With the results from this Metabolic Health Analysis, chiropractors will be able to compare the patient’s data against published research by Claude Pichard, MD, PhD, and compare their patient’s level of muscle mass and body fat, an indirect measurement of myokines and cytokines, against a healthy person the exact age and gender.
With this data a chiropractor can design an appropriate Chiropractic Lifestyle Action Plan that can be combined with a Chiropractic Treatment recommendation that will help focus a patient’s lifestyle toward the production of myokines to improve their insulin sensitivity, glucose uptake and help burn fat within their skeletal muscle. In addition, the increase of myokines will counteract the release and effect of inflammatory cytokines that can help to reduce possible symptoms of chronic musculoskeletal inflammation.