Friday, February 28, 2014

Minger Hits the Bullseye

This is the same description of this process that is elegantly described in the Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, and which ties together the conjectures about the risks of carbs and/or fats:

More robust evidence exists for the "food depends on context" argument, and the data continues to mount in this direction.
A 2011 review in The Netherlands Journal of Medicine evaluated our collective body of research on saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease, proposing an intriguing hypothesis about the behavior of saturated fat under different dietary circumstance.  Though more research is needed to test it, the theory may reconcile the inconsistencies popping up between clinical studies and epidemiology.  The review found that the modern diet tends to promote chronic, low-grade inflammation - response triggered by damage to your body's tissues.  The inflammation then cripples the body's ability to protect itself from other damage.  Basically, that chronic inflammation sets the stage for disease.
The paper's authors suggest that dietary saturated fat -while not a health-harming entity in and of itself-may become problematic if it's dumped on top of a soup of inflammation and excess carbohydrate.  Such a situation can lead to a buildup of saturated fatty acids in the body, notably as higher levels of free fatty acids in plasma lipids. (Those excess free fatty acids have long been linked with conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes, largely contributing to saturated fat's blacklisted status in the nutrition world.)
Explaining the phenomenon, the authors wrote:
"The adverse effects of high SAFA (saturated fatty acid) intake on lipid metabolism are particularly noted when SAFA are combined with a high CHO (carbohydrate) intake.  Under these conditions, dietary SAFA are preserved, while the surplus of the consumed CHO is converted SAFA by hepatic de novo fatty acid synthesis.  Taken together, SAFA accumulate:  1) under eucaloric conditions in normal weight subjects who consume a CHO-rich diet with high glycaemic index; and 2) under hypo caloric conditions in subjects with the metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease who consume CHO-rich diets.  Thus CHO, particularly those with a high glycemic index, and pre-existing insulin resistance are confounding factors in the discussion on the relation between CVD (cardiovascular disease) and dietary SAFA."
Death By Food Pyramid, Denise Minger

In short, if you eat an amount of carbohydrate that exceeds your body's tolerance for carbohydrate consumption, your blood will be loaded with a large quantity of fat (long standing knowledge that blood triglycerides are rapidly reduced with carb restriction).  The fat accumulates because the body prioritizes disposition of excess sugar over disposition of excess fat.  In the individual chronically overcoming carbs, the body not only doesn't burn fat often, it loses the ability to burn much fat (simple use it or lose it adaptations).  This cycle of excess carb consumption causes a host of problems, including the above referenced chronic low level inflammation.

In this storm of problems that results when too much carbohydrate is ingested, eating fat will add to the body's problem of fat disposition, further loading the blood with fat.  So, the perfect storm for high fat in the blood is a high fat, high sugar/carb diet.

This is also the root of the explanation for why there are some folks who are fat but healthy, and others who are not.  Excess body fat is a correlate of metabolic derangement - which means you are sick - but some have excess body fat but are not metabolically deranged.

Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sisson: Do You REALLY Need Veggies?

Animal products include some of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They’re our best (and often only) source of vitamin A (retinol), DHA/EPA, and vitamin B12, as well as lesser-known nutrients like choline, creatine, and carnosine. But a diet devoid of vegetables and other plants will likely be a little low in certain nutrients that we need. Like:
Betaine – A vital liver-supporting nutrient, the best source is spinach.
Potassium – Important electrolyte and regulator of blood pressure, the best sources are avocados, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and bananas. Meat contains potassium, but you have to capture the juices to get it.
Magnesium – Involved in hundreds of crucial physiological functions, the best sources are leafy greens like spinach and chard.
Fermentable fiber – The best sources are plants.
Whoa, whoa. Fiber? What is this, the AHA? No. I’ve questioned the merits of insoluble fiber-driven fecal hypertrophy in the past, and I remain puzzled at the relentless pursuit of toilet bowl blockages, but I strongly support the consumption of fermentable fiber. If you’re convinced of the importance of a healthy gut microbiome populated with happy, vibrant gut flora – and you should be, by now – you can’t ignore their food requirements. They need fermentable fiber to survive and tend to your immune system, and the best way to provide that is to eat plants.
It’s also easy to miss out on nutrients like folate (if you don’t eat offal) and calcium (if you don’t eat dairy or small bony fish).
Plus, and this is an important point, we evolved eating wild animals. Wild animal meat and fat comes loaded with antioxidant compounds from all the wild plant matter they eat. Grass-fed beef (the more easily attainable alternative to wild meat) is also higher in B-vitamins, beta-carotene (look for yellow fat), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin K, and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and selenium. Unless you’re hunting game or eating “salad bar” beef (what Joel Salatin calls grass-fed beef), eating vegetables, herbs, and spices with your meal will help emulate the ancestral steak dinner.

Read more:

I think it's laid out like this:
1.  Stop killing yourself with sugar, wheat and industrial seed/veggie oils.  There are folks who can be healthy on wheat, but most folks that are really overweight, and thus presumed carbohydrate intolerant for the short term, there's no upside to wheat and many downsides.
2.  Part 1 can take a while.  It took me from 1996 to 2007 to finally burn my hand on the stove often enough that I could let go of routine doses of sugar.  Something happened in 2007, in which I began to perceive most sugary "treats" as "industrially produced crap that treats the food industry at my expense."  I learned not to like that crap, not to want that crap.  My unconscious association changed. After part 1 is well under way, it is worth thinking about the rest of the list:
a.  More grass fed meat, less industrial produced meat.  Wild game and grass fed beef = good!
b.  Finding a source for raw, un-pasteruized milk, if you like milk and are milk tolerant
c.  Can you get locally grown veggies at the farmer's market?
d.  Experiment and measure the results of supplementation of various micro-nutrients.  Potassium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium - most folks find some benefit from taking these.  But it can be a challenge to find the formulation that benefits you most.  Some can take any old ZMA and feel a benefit, others love for example Natural Calm, and others another variety.  The complexity also gets worse, not better - a product that produces a good response initially may eventually not be as potent as the body improves in health, so the search for impactful doses and formulations continues.
e.  Are you willing to try fermenting foods?  I'm not, but my lovely bride is - and I like them quite a lot.  Fermentation seems to bring good bugs back to the gut.
f.  Bone broths have been a human staple - again, thanks to Janet I am learning to love them.  They seem to help health the GI tract from the various injuries we inflict upon it via wheat/grains, sugar and related dysbiosis, FODMAPs, etc.
g.  Eating more veggies falls in here too - if you are pounding down sugar and wheat, I doubt increased veggie intake will make much difference that a person could discern, or in any health markers.  I liken it to trying to put out a fire with a squirt gun, when the real solution is to turn off the gasoline spraying from the broken fuel pipe (IOW stop the wheat and sugar).
h.  Lots of people are sensitive to dairy, eggs, wheat, or some other food source, and have no idea.  Tests for food allergies are easy and relatively cheap.  Some folks can do nothing more than stop eating sugar/wheat and their allergic food, and feel MUCH better.
i.  Sleep - sleep is kind of like step 1, in that it affects all other factors of health.  You if you don't sleep well, you can still reduce the damage by sticking to step 1 (but bad sleep makes step 1 harder).
j.  Dealing with distress.  You can end stress only by dying.  You can reduce the distress in your experience many ways, but the evidence is piling up that a formal relaxation practice of some sort has a potent and positive health impact.
k.  Dealing with aspartame, OTC meds and other neolithic "downers".  This had no where near the impact for me that other steps did, but it was a positive step nonetheless to go from a gallon a day or so down to the 3-4 aspartame drinks I have now.

Why do all of these things work?  They allow the gut to heal.  They allow a healthier gut biome.  They allow the liver to heal and work more efficiently.  They allow your cells to regain a more normal insulin sensitivity.  The reverse the body's abnormal responses to abnormal quantities and types of foods.  They let your hunger work like it is supposed to work - to keep you from starving to death without making you eat more than you need.  Your body is a finely honed machine, refined by thousands of years of adaptation.  These changes allow the machine to work as designed.

All these changes are easier said than done.  You have to fail to succeed - at least, most of us will have to.  And that's OK - if you get the sugar/wheat out of your diet or 2 months, you gave yourself two months of healing and likely some lessons that will inform future success.

In summary - if health becomes the thing that matters to you, there's a long trail of learning to follow. It might require eating a bunch of veggies at some point.  Start where you are, put a foot out and keep moving towards the vibrant, healthy you that feels good most days.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Long Slow Turn

In one paper, published by Swedish researchers in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared with men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.

Yep, that's right. The butter and whole-milk eaters did better at keeping the pounds off.

"I would say it's counterintuitive," says Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council.

The second study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, is a meta-analysis of 16 observational studies. There has been a hypothesis that high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity and heart disease risk, but the reviewers concluded that the evidence does not support this hypothesis. In fact, the reviewers found that in most of the studies, high-fat dairy was associated with a lower risk of obesity.
"We continue to see more and more data coming out [finding that] consumption of whole-milk dairy products is associated with reduced body fat," Miller says.
It's not clear what might explain this phenomenon. Lots of folks point to the satiety factor. The higher levels of fat in whole milk products may make us feel fuller, faster. And as a result, the thinking goes, we may end up eating less.

When I was afloat on the USS ENTERPRISE I would talk about the characteristics of our ~1100 foot long ship - she could move with great speed, and could accelerate the incomprehensibly large mass of herself with equally amazing power.  She could turn hard enough to tilt the deck five degrees.  The larger super-tankers on the other hand had a legendary inability to turn.  It was a long, slow process and required the tanker captains and their crews to plan their maneuvers with a long lead time.  

I'm reminded of that as I watch these news flashes about health and fat.  One by one, the years of assumption and conjecture about fat's supposed negative health impacts are being proved what they were - assumptions and conjectures.  

If you like milk, it's worth getting the benefit of whole milk.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mice and Sugar, What Could Be Better?

For the rodents on the sweetened diet, sugar accounted for 25 percent of their total calorie intake. Up to a quarter of Americans consume that proportion of sugar as part of their diets. Previous studies that found harmful effects of sugar consumption tended to use unusually high amounts.
“[Our findings] set a new standard for caution even at low doses of added sugar,” senior author and biologist Wayne K. Potts said.
About 80 percent of substances that are toxic in mice are toxic for people as well, said Potts, so it is likely that the effects of extra sugar could be similar in humans.
The researchers first fed 156 animals either sweetened or normal diets for 26 weeks. They then used a novel lab setup: room-sized mouse barns where the animals could roam free instead of being confined in cages. The goal was to mimic the natural environment.
For me this is a pretty good example of confirmation bias - since I'm already a believer that sugar will kill you (at a toxic dose, it will, although the amount that makes sugar toxic is not not known for sure).  But you have to ask yourself - if sugary food can kill mice in just 26 weeks, who could possibly argue with science?
It is interesting to see the flurry of furry mice being exposed to sugar now, vice fat, since hating fat has become slightly passé.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bicarbonate For Strength Athletes

The BLUF:  taking baking soda increases performance, most significantly for high volume work, but also for low volume strength training.  Oh, and this is why the baking soda thing is not like beta alanine.
And while the Kerr study was among the first to demonstrate significant beneficial effects of sodium bicarbonate in a strength training scenario, it is - if you come to think of it, actually not that surprising to see that the H+ (=hydrogen ions → acidity) buffering effect works just as well during a high volume leg workout, as it does, during high intensity cycling and sprinting [just a note on the H+ buffer: contrary to beta alanine, bicarbonate buffers the acidity in the blood, not within the muscle cell and will thus have greater effects on the periphery than carnosine the histidine + beta alanine dipeptide you are actually looking for, whenever you take your beta alanine supplement.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fat Healthier than Skinny? Kind of ...

American culture tends to vilify fat and fat people. You mention a particular instance in 2004 when the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appeared on national television claiming that obesity was approaching the No. 1 preventable cause of death. You think this crusade was misguided. Why?
Many M.D.s have bought this fallacious line that the optimal weight for women in terms of their health is what M.D.s call normal weight, a BMI between 18.5 and 25. And they have thought this to be true because women with higher BMIs exhibit a series of physiological measures that are indeed risk factors for disease in men. But they are not systematically risk factors for disease in women. If you actually look at the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and data from studies done in other countries, the optimal weight for women who have had a kid is what doctors currently call “overweight.” I’m not saying that obesity is optimal, but all the findings show that overweight women survive better than normal weight women. We walk a fine line in the book because we argue that being overweight is not nearly as bad as your doctor has been telling you, but on the other hand, Americans are heavier than they need to be. There are diseases that still correlate with heavier weights, like diabetes. But if we ate a more natural diet, by that I simply mean the diet that we evolved to eat, we would all weigh less.
It's pretty simple stuff until you try to figure it out.
To me, true north for health starts with - what's your blood sugar?  There's no one with out of control blood sugar that is healthy, but there are folks who carry more body fat than the minimum who are healthy.  This author thinks you can eat grains and be healthy - some folks can.  But if your health and blood sugar isn't what you want it to be, the best starting point is sugar and wheat elimination.
This article is a good read - another perspective on why you want to avoid those omega6 laden industrial seed oils.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How To Avoid Injury - Get Bed Sores!

Misrepresenting Crossfit injuries is simple click theft!
Obese reporters, lazy bloggers out to "steal clicks", and those seeking to curry favour with critics  throw their hands up in horror at the thought that any sporting activity could result in any type of injury.
"Surely", they ooze, "If we could rid ourselves of rugby, MMA, boxing, indeed all martial arts (except that nice Tai Chi, that's ok) and Crossfit, no one would be injured again."
I reflected on this and thought about my Crossfit injuries, then I thought about my pre-Crossfit injuries as a "fit" person, then I thought about my injuries as a normal member of the public.
I'm proving nothing, other than saying injury, biffs, cuts and stuff are probably part of life unless you are very unfit and sedentary. In which case, it's just the bed sores.
An overview of my injuries
As a sedentary 100 day a smoker who avoided physical activity till I was 37.
I got run over by a car.
I fell of a ladder while painting,
I burnt my chest in a garden fire.
I had back pain from slouching.

I had back pain from moving stuff badly.

The author's list continues, and his point is valid - if you want to avoid injury at all costs, you should probably kill yourself.  The injuries that had the most impact on my grandparents' lives included torn ACLs from football, a wrecked leg from an auto accident, a back injury from falling off of a ladder (and preceded by a broken pelvis from an auto injury that likely also started the back issues), a fall on ice rending a broken arm bone and lifelong pain/weakness afterwards, and chronic shoulder arthritis.  My parents had hip pain (bursitis?), knee pain from a torn meniscus, a shoulder injury that required surgical repair from a fall off of a bicycle, and falls leading to facial scars and head trauma.  

But what had the most impact on their lives was their decrepitude from lack of activity as they aged.  Each of the various injuries became worse as muscle and bone wasted away and my grandparents maintained the grim, year over year decline into the pit of frailty.   My parents have thus far avoided this by maintaining their strength through moderate resistance work and/or some other form of traditional training.

My own injuries were similar - ACL and meniscus damage from military training and skiing, shoulder and neck injuries from football and snowboarding, arthritic damage in my neck and back from my years as a desk jockey, and such.  I never fell off of my bike, and was never struck by a car, but I think bicycling was the highest risk activity I ever undertook in the name of health and fitness.  The negative outcomes are fairly low in probability but the cost of failure when you mix in automobiles at highway speeds is maximal.

Which really is the point of the matter with regard to CrossFit.  We've been in an industry and a generation in which the power of the "expert" to determine what you or I could or should or shouldn't do was fairly high.  Whatever followed buzz phrases such as "Doctors say", or "scientists recommend", or "experts advise" was considered authoritative by me and the people I know.  We lived in a gestalt in which is was assumed wise to follow the risk-reward determinations of others.  

In these discussions of "what is dangerous" you will note that there is little to no perspective.   That's why we can have a national frenzy over football and being a Navy SEAL, but spend energy wanking about how dangerous CrossFit is.  Or, we can have wailing and gnashing of teeth about how dangerous it is to have individual ownership of firearms, but virtually never hear about swimming pool deaths - even though a pool at a home is 900 times more likely to result in a child's death than is a gun in the home (and when 99%+ of all firearms owners will never hurt a human with a gun).  

A former co-worker, and a sergeant on the police force that employed us, used to say "you pays your money and you takes your chances."  This was uttered in reference to falling in love, getting shot while on duty, or in discussions of risk of alcoholism (we covered a lot of ground).  Which of you would take anyone else's advice regarding these risks?  As we pick and choose our chances through life, we choose for ourselves, based on our own tolerance for risk and our own appetite for the perceived rewards an activity may bring.  We will do the same with CrossFit and thank whatever is holy that we have the liberty to make such a choice.  The next person hear saying  "CrossFit is dangerous", I'll just think to myself "well then you shouldn't be doing it."  And please stay away while I'm doing CrossFit.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Rubber Bands and Spit Balls for Strength and Power

This was an interesting study looking at the use of "accommodative resistance", specifically, using bands in addition to weight for barbell training.  I was only kidding about the spit balls.

Large rubber bands, literally, when placed so that they are pulled more tight as the lift is completed change the force generation curve the athlete can produce in any given lift.

As an example, in a squat, as the athlete reaches the mid point of the lift, the mechanical levers improve and force generation can increase.  But near the top of the lift, the athlete has to reduce force generation because there's a limit to the amount of velocity one can have near the top of the lift.  Too fast, and the barbell's momentum will be too high.  We instinctively slow down to prevent this.  Making that same lift with a band, however, we can give the barbell maximal effort throughout the lift, while the band provides increasing resistance and neutralizes barbell momentum.

There are many reasons why this series of forces on a barbell creates a different adaptive stimulus.  The take away is that if we wish to keep teasing adaptive demand out of ourselves, we have to avoid the common practice of utilizing a given pattern of sets and reps, and find novel ways to allow different patterns of movement and force.  Bands do this relatively easily and inexpensively.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kevin Ogar and CrossFit

The following is an article that attempts to summarize the injury CrossFitter Kevin Ogar suffered during a competition in California, as he attempted a moderately heavy (moderately heavy for him - it's about 50 pounds heavier than anything I've ever snatched) snatch.  The article is not as bad as most of what I read on TNation about CrossFit.  

I don't want to write about Kevin's injury.  It is such a grievous injury to consider, and one that I grew u fearing very much.  However, Kevin's injury has become a part of what folks talk about with regard to CrossFit.  I pen the following with the hope that Kevin's injury can be part of learning more about how to be the fittest one can be within the risk constraints one can tolerate for oneself.

I had never heard the reference to the term "CrossFit stop."  Apparently the author thinks that means there are gyms where they don't mind technique degradation, and encourage folks to push on past the crappy technique and "get it done".  

And there undoubtedly such CrossFit gyms.  But to my knowledge, that not "accepted CrossFit practice".  Rather, that's part and parcel of having an affiliation system vice a command and control style franchise system.  In other words, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman chose to employ an affiliation system that would allow for decentralized learning of how to best run a CrossFit facility.  CrossFit affiliate owners must get a Level I certificate to use CrossFit branding but otherwise have incredible leeway in how they implement CrossFit.  

CrossFit says "mechanics, consistency, then intensity."  In other words, first get the movements down, then be able to do them at speed, then do them in a workout.  

Additionally, most folks cannot complete CrossFit workouts without technique while using heavy (for them) weights.  The idea of using olympic lifts for high reps has always been a lightning rod for controversy.  The workout Grace, for example, is 30 clean and jerks as fast as one can go, with good male CrossFitters cranking out 30 reps in 2-3 minutes using 135 pounds.  What you or any knucklehead off the street can conclude is if someone can do 30 CnJs in 3 minutes, the athlete is using a weight that is "light", as in "light for them."  This brings a finer point to the argument that "high rep olympic lifts are dangerous."  What if Grace were performed with a broom stick?  Still dangerous?  What if it were performed with 90% of the athlete's max CnJ?  Well, then it would be a long, slow WOD of successive heavy clean and jerks performed in 10-30 minutes, and likely done with at least moderately good technique.  No one clean and jerks really heavy weight unless can deliver some technique to the movement.  I trained with a guy who was very strong - reps on the bench press with 300 pounds - but he could not complete 15 clean and jerks with 135 pounds.  Why? He didn't have the ability to express hip extension into a barbell.  He just muscled the bar to his chest and overhead a few times using arms only.  It's only one example, but it was illustrative.

Compared to 2007 when I found it and now, CrossFit has done what Greg Glassman hoped - transformed the industry that is called the "fitness" industry.  There are something like 8000 CrossFit affiliates doing what folks said could not be done, all over the world.  Each one is a lab experiment in how to train folks to get the fitness outcomes they desire.  The one uses versions of the functional human movements that Greg realized can be used to produce the greatest physiological adaptation in the least time, some degree of variance in programming, and some methodology that utilizes intensity to produce desirable adaptation.  These gyms don't spend thousands on clunky cardio machines that allow people to spend hours for very low levels physiological adaptation (cardio is certainly better than nothing, but there's a reason most people don't do it; it doesn't not have a palpable impact on one's life and health).  These gyms, at their best, train humans to execute high skilled humans with high force and the necessary physiological positions.  This skilled force generation transfers to many or all of life's activities - sport, combat, or just plain old good living.  

CrossFit delivers a product that answers all the questions I used to ask about my training - what if I spend my time getting big and strong and need to cover ground quickly, or walk/run all day?  Why is it that I can spend hours in the gym but there's no translation to hitting a baseball or kicking a heavy bag?  What if I spend hours and hours running, and get a little faster, but then need to lift something heavy, or drag a buddy, with no skill in how to stabilize my spine?  

Kevin I wish you a speedy and satisfying recovery.  

Kevin is by all reports a grand fellow and you can donate to his medical fund: 

Another write up in the injury is here:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Statin Confusion Continues

Why might low LDL-cholesterol levels be a risk factor for mortality? The authors point out that cholesterol can alter the functioning of certain inflammatory substances (including C-reactive protein and cytokines), and therefore low-cholesterol might lead to a more inflammatory state (which is not healthy).
One very interesting thing about this study was that it found that mortality across the groups was no different in individuals not treated with statins. What this suggests is that statins might be having a direct effect that is harmful to the hearts and health of individuals with heart failure.

Not easy to make a lot from this summary of the study except it flies in the face of the conventional wisdom about what statins are good for.  Be healthy - it sucks less than being sick.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Inflammation Puzzle

In July I posted a blog discussing the overuse of cryotherapy. The controversy surrounding the topic made it one of the most popular blogs I’ve written. What is surprising to me is that a controversy exists at all. Why, where, and when did this notion of anti-inflammation start? Ice, compression, elevation and NSAIDs are so commonplace that suggesting otherwise is laughable to most. Enter an Athletic Training Room or Physical Therapy Clinic nearly all clients are receiving some type of anti-inflammatory treatment (ice, compression, massage, NSAIDs, biophysical modalities, etc). I evaluated a client the other day and asked what are you doing currently – “Well, I am taking anti-inflammatories and icing.” Why do you want to get rid of inflammation and swelling? I ask this question for both chronic and acute injury!

The Stigma of Inflammation
Editor in Chief of The Physician and Sports Medicine Journal (Dr. Nick DiNubile) once posed this question: “Seriously, do you honestly believe that your body’s natural inflammatory response is a mistake?” Much like a fever increases body temperature to kill off foreign invaders; inflammation is the first physiological process to the repair and remodeling of tissue. Inflammation, repair, and remodel. You cannot have tissue repair or remodeling without inflammation.  In a healthy healing process, a proliferative phase consisting of a mixture of inflammatory cells and fibroblasts naturally follows the inflammatory phase (1).

"Why do you want to get rid of inflammation and swelling?"

I have stopped taking NSAIDs - unless I take one.  An example of when I might take them is if I have too much pain to sleep, or too much pain to enjoy being with my family/friends.  What I have found is that sometimes a dose of NSAIDs just shuts down some inflammation cycle that I'm suffering from.

Overall, though, I think many folks take NSAIDs because the standard american diet leaves us in hyper-inflammatory conditions, so that a normal ache or pain becomes a day after day painfest which we might need an NSAID to turn off.

That said, I think the point above is valid.  I feel healthier now that I don't rely on NSAIDs to turn off pain every day.