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Episode 461
The Doctor's Farmacy

3 Things Causing Inflammation In Your Body & How To Prevent It

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If you have a chronic illness, you’ve got inflammation. Inflammation is often hidden or silent, something that we can’t see or feel, but manifests itself as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and more. Typically, inflammation has been raging inside for a while before you even notice there’s anything wrong. The three biggest drivers of inflammation are all lifestyle factors—gut health, diet, and chronic stress.

In this episode of my new Masterclass series, I am interviewed by my good friend and podcast host, Dhru Purohit, about inflammation, what’s causing it, and how to reduce it. We discuss the critical component of gut health and how 60-70% of our immune system is in our gut, as well as tests to identify inflammation in the body, foods to avoid, and the importance of restful sleep.

This episode is brought to you by Rupa Health and Athletic Greens.

Rupa Health is a place for Functional Medicine practitioners to access more than 2,000 specialty lab tests from over 20 labs like DUTCH, Vibrant America, Genova, Great Plains, and more. Check out a free live demo with a Q&A or create an account here.

Right now, Athletic Greens is offering my listeners 10 free travel packs of AG1 when you make your first purchase. Just go to athleticgreens.com/hyman to take advantage of this great offer.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dhru Purohit

Dhru Purohit is a podcast host, serial entrepreneur, and investor in the health and wellness industry. His podcast, Dhru Purohit Podcast, is a top 50 global health podcast with over 30+ million unique downloads. His interviews focus on the inner workings of the brain and the body and feature the brightest minds in wellness, medicine, and mindset.

Transcript

Speaker 3:
Coming up on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you have high cholesterol and no inflammation, there are very little risk for heart disease. But if you have high cholesterol and high inflammation, those are the people who are at risk for heart disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Mark Hyman. Welcome to a new series on The Doctor’s Farmacy called Masterclass, where we dive deep into popular health topics, including inflammation, autoimmune disease, brain health, sleep aging, and lots more. Today, I’m joined by my guest host, my good friend, business partner, and host of the Dhru Purohit Podcast, Dhru Purohit, and we’re going to be talking about what chronic inflammation does to your body, what causes it and how to prevent it. And why are we doing that? Because inflammation is the biggest driver of all the diseases we see in modern society, so welcome, Dhru.

Dhru Purohit:
Mark. So excited to be here. I don’t know if you know, but on YouTube and Google, one of the highly searched terms, one of the top terms in health is, what is inflammation or what causes inflammation? People have a lot of questions. Let’s jump right in with a lot of value. What are the top three things that people are doing, the root factors that are contributing to the chronic inflammation epidemic that we’re facing today.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m going to get to those things. But first, I don’t know if people actually know what inflammation is.

Dhru Purohit:
Let’s go into it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
People know that if you have a sore throat, it’s red, painful, swollen, and that’s inflammation, and it hurts, right? The ancient description of inflammation was rubor, calor, dolor and tumor more. Tumor is swelling, rubor is redness, dolor is pain, and calor is heat, right? We have to understand that those are the cardinal features of inflammation, but then you go, “Well, I don’t really feel inflamed. My throat doesn’t hurt. My joints aren’t swollen. I don’t have a rash. What do you mean by inflammation?” It’s what we call hidden or silent inflammation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That is the problem. It’s the inflammation that we don’t see, that we can’t feel, that’s causing all the chronic diseases that we see today. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, not to mention, obviously autoimmune disease, allergies and so forth. We know there’s inflammation in those, but I mean, do people think of being overweight as an inflammatory state? Do people think of diabetes as an inflammatory state? Do people think of depression as an inflammatory state? No.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But inflammation is causing all of those chronic diseases. Back to your question, what are the biggest drivers of inflammation? Well, it’s something that has been only recently a phenomena in traditional medicine and has been ignored pretty much forever, except by functional medicine, which is your gut, your microbiome. Turns out that %60 to 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Why is it there? Well, it’s the place where you’re exposed to all the foreign materials every day more than anywhere else.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The purpose of your immune system is to identify friend from foe and to get rid of the bad stuff. When you’re eating pounds of a foreign material, namely food, and you have three pounds of foreign material in there, namely bacteria, that’s a lot to handle. The ability of the gut to sense what it should take in, to keep out the things that shouldn’t be in there is so important. Having a healthy microbiome allows us to properly regulate our immune systems and to let in the nutrients that we need, proteins, the amino acids, the fatty acids, the sugars and carbohydrates that we need, the nutrients we need, but it keeps out all the bad stuff.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s the first line of defense.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
First line of defense. When that barrier gets broken in the gut, all of a sudden, your immune system is exposed to a sea, or actually more accurately exposed to a sewer. That starts to off your immune system and you start to create systemic inflammation. The microbiome is really important. We’re just beginning to understand how to identify what’s out of balance in there and how to correct the system. Traditional medicine is still very much behind the eight ball in this. Functional medicine is way ahead by 30, 40 years on understanding one, how to identify dysfunction in the gut, how to repair a leaky gut, how to reduce inflammation, how to restore normal microbiome.

Dhru Purohit:
Now, before we go to the other two, just to jump in, the ancients knew a little bit about this.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
Talk about that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s a famous Ayurveda quote that really says, “If your gut’s not healthy, you’re not healthy. And if you want to fix disease, focus on the gut.” This has been known for a long time. Actually, this idea wasn’t new Elie Metchnikoff, at the turn of the 1900s, was a scientist who first up with the notion of the gut as a source of chronic illness. They had some wacky ideas about how to deal with it, which was take out your colon, which I would recommend, but they were on the right track, which is problems in the microbiome, in the gut cause systemic disease. The solution is not cutting out your colon, it’s fixing the gut, but it’s not something that new.

Dhru Purohit:
And Hippocrates says health and disease starts in the gut.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely.

Dhru Purohit:
That was the first one that you wanted to go into. What are two other ones that you want to mention? And there’s a lot of them that are out there, but we’re talking about the top three, what are two other ones you want to mention?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The other big source of inflammation is our diet. Not any random thing from our diet, but the amount of starch and sugar in our diet that drives a dysfunction in our metabolism called insulin resistance. It’s essentially like where we become resistant to the effects of insulin and our bodies need to make more and more insulin to regulate our blood sugar. And that is because we’re flooding our system with pharmacologic doses of starch and sugar, about a pound a day per person, which is just historically unprecedented.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That insulin resistance causes the development of specific kinds of fat cells. They’re called adipocytes. They’re specific kind of fat cells in the gut around your belly, your belly fat, that produce a class of compounds called adipose cytokines. Cytokines, you might have heard about with COVID are the cytokines storm. These are the messenger molecules of your immune system. When you have a lot of these belly fat cells made from eating starch and sugar, caused by in too much insulin and insulin resistance, it creates systemic inflammation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It literally puts your body on fire. If you’re overweight, if you have diabetes, if you have high blood pressure, if you have heart disease, if you have dementia, these are all related to this phenomena of too much starch and sugar and the systemic inflammation. We now know that, for example, if you have high cholesterol and no inflammation, there are very little risk for heart disease. But if you have high cholesterol and high inflammation, those are the people who are at risk for heart disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When you start to look at inflammation in the body, it’s not what we can feel, but there are ways of measuring, through laboratory testing, the amount of inflammation in our body, and we’re going to become more and more sophisticated about this. David Furman at Stanford, who was a scientist and doctor, developed, through technologies, only recently available, big data analytics, giant throughput analysis where you can look at thousands and thousands of blood markers.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, we go to the doctor, we get 10, 20 lab tests, right? 30, 40, maybe 50. There’s thousands of molecules floating around in your blood. And most of them we completely ignore. He was like, I don’t care what we’re actually measuring. Let’s look at what actually matters. So, he put thousands of these chemicals through analytic machines, correlated with people’s clinical history, and was able to find four biomarkers of inflammation and immune dysregulation that are highly predictive of aging, highly predictive of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, all those diseases. We are going to become more and more sophisticated at our ability to look at inflammation. People who want to know more about it, they can go to Edifice, I think it’s Edifice Health is the company, which is actually commercializing this test.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But there’s other tests we do like C-reactive protein that help to look at inflammation. But insulin resistance is a big driver of inflammation because it makes your belly on fire literally. And these fat cells are just pumping out tons of inflammation throughout your body. The third thing that is really important to understand is that stress is inflammatory, chronic stress causes inflammation in the body through a number of different mechanisms. One, stress makes you in insulin resistance. So, it’ll contribute to just making you overweight and belly fat. I mean, I had a patient once where, this was so clear, she had a daughter who was in Israel.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It was during the time of sort of the Intifada, the uprising, maybe a few decades ago. She was terrified every day that her daughter was going to get killed in some kind of bomb or some kind of attack during this Palestinian uprising. She couldn’t sleep. She wasn’t even overeating, but she just gained all this weight. As soon as her daughter came back from Israel, she lost 40 pounds just like that without changing anything.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sometimes stress can be a very big factor in insulin resistance. It also affects your inflammatory response and creates an increase in inflammatory response. This is interesting. If you look at the data on what we call sociogenomics, which is the ways in which our social interactions cause changes in gene expression, you can be having a conversation with someone, and if they’re in conflict with you, if you’re oppositional, if you’re having an emotionally charged negative interaction, it will turn on genes of inflammation. If you have a loving, connected conversation with someone, it will turn on genes that shut off inflammation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Your mind, really your brain is the most potent pharmacy ever, and it will drive either inflammation or it will stop inflammation simply by your thoughts. You have to kind of look at that. That’s something we haven’t talked about a lot, but it’s, how do we master our minds? Most of us are victims of our mind’s activity, and we train our muscles. We train our body, we increase our metabolism. Nobody knows how to train their brain to actually function better from the perspective of being in control of your thoughts. That’s not an easy one. It’s a whole nother topic for a podcast.

Dhru Purohit:
How big of a challenge is the topic of inflammation? Really, like put it in a sense of a scale in terms of all the things the world is dealing with when it comes to problems with health, how directly tied in is inflammation with those problems?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s probably the number one driver of all the misery we see in the world. There’s a beautiful new book that was written by Raj Patel and Rupa Maria, who I’ve had on The Doctor’s Farmacy Podcast called Inflamed. It’s about the biological, the social economic and political consequences of an environment and a diet that’s driven systemic inflammation throughout society. It’s staggering when you start to look at it. Oppression is inflammatory, and there’s so many people oppressed and struggling in this society.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That diet’s inflammatory, the social structures we have are inflammatory. Inflammation, and when you look at all the problems that are facing humans in terms of health, and even in terms of some of the socioeconomic issues, that inflammation is such a big driver, and understanding how we calm that down is so important. One of the things that it does, which I think is something people don’t understand, when you look at our society, we see so much conflict, so much divisiveness, so much hatred, so much intolerance.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I don’t remember it like this growing up. I mean, I just don’t. The diet wars are terrible. The Republicans, Democrats are no longer working together in any meaningful way. We’ve got religious conflict, political conflict. We’ve got the divisiveness in this country where we had sort of a takeover of the Capitol by a whole bunch of people who were hopefully making the world a better place, but really, that was not a very helpful act. Why is that happening? Well, it turns out that your brain, when it’s inflamed, doesn’t work, and all the things that we see as behavioral disorders, as violence, as depression, anxiety, mood disorders, the opioid crisis, turns out that a lot of these things are driven by inflammation in the brain.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What’s happening often is that the inflammatory process diet that we have, it changes in our microbiome because of our diet, because of C-sections, antibiotics, and toxins, and all the things that damage our gut microbiome because of glyphosate, all that leads to inflammation. When you have inflammation like that in the body, it disconnects the ancient limbic brain, the reptile brain, the fight or flight response from the frontal lobe, which is basically the adult in the room, your executive function, your higher self.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When your higher self and your lower self are not talking to each other, when your survival brain and your sort of mature, grown up brain that make sure you don’t do, or say, or act in ways that are damaging or harmful to other people, that connection gets weakened or it breaks. When you look at, for example, diet studies in prisons, or in juvenile detention centers, it’s so impressive because, simply swapping out healthy food, an anti-inflammatory diet with an inflammatory diet in prisons, caused violent crimes by 56%, they had a multivitamin by 80%. In juvenile detention centers, these kids are violent. 91% reduction in violent behavior, 75% reduction in restraints. 100% reduction in suicide rates in this group, which is the third leading cause of death in adolescent males, and you reduce it by 100% simply by changing the diet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Why does it work? It works because it cools off the inflammation in the brain. It’s causing a disconnect between people’s ability to have executive function, to have the grownup in the room, to have the higher self show up and say, gee, maybe I shouldn’t punch this person, or maybe I shouldn’t cut them, or maybe I shouldn’t shoot them, or maybe I shouldn’t be in this violent oppositional life. I don’t know how much it’s contributed to the divisiveness in our society from the food, but I think it’s way more than we think.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’ve had David Perlmutter and his son, Austin, on the podcast talking about their book, which describes this phenomena and the science and the neurology behind the way our diet affects our brain and disconnects our limbic brain from our frontal lobe, driving violent and disruptive and divisive behavior.

Dhru Purohit:
Well, one of the unique things that’s happening in today’s world that is built on top of all the different things you’re talking about is that there are a lot of people getting rich off of creating this inflammation. We have the food companies that are getting rich by marketing and selling high sugary foods to the public. We have the news media that’s literally making incredible millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars by driving inflammatory style news, which drives inflammation in people, creates more stress.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the advertising is all about inflammatory products, right?

Dhru Purohit:
All about inflammatory products.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Food.

Dhru Purohit:
Food. And many other factors that are out there too. A unique thing that’s going on in the world today, that’s important to highlight, that has really never been there at this level, is that through really the hijacking of media and the use of media to grow these large companies, we now are able to spread inflammation so rampant, and there’s a very few and small group of individuals that are getting dramatically wealthy off the process.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, I think a lot of stuff started off with good intentions that had bad consequences. In the post World War II era, we needed to scale up agriculture to feed a hungry world, a growing population, to produce a lot of cheap carbohydrate, starchy calories. And we did a great job. We did a great job. The average American has 500 more calories than they did in 1970 available to them to eat, and they’re eating it, which is why we’re also unhealthy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That was a good idea, but the unintended consequences have been devastating, not only to human health, in terms of diabetes and obesity. I mean, when I was born, there was a 5% obesity rate. Now it’s 40. It’s an eightfold increase in obesity in my lifetime, but we’ve also created unintended consequences for the environment and climate and the changes in our biodiversity and loss of species, and the damage to the soil, and our water systems because of how we’re growing food.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We created all these unintended consequences. In the same way, these food companies were not actually designing foods to drive all these problems, but we’re locked in a system where the status quo is trying to be preserved so they can maintain their market share, their profitability and they’re trying to navigate and figure out how to shift because culture is shifting, demand is shifting, but we have a tremendous amount of money that goes into preserving the status quo, how we grow food, what we grow, the processed food industry, the marketing, the food.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, we spend billions of dollars from the food industry, get to spend billions of dollars marketing and advertising bad foods, and the worse the food, the more money they spend advertising. What’s worse is, it’s hidden advertising now that’s really a problem. These algorithms on social media drive you into more and more of the same. If you click on one conspiracy theory, you’re going to get fed 10 other conspiracy theories.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’ve met these people that believe in all these weird [inaudible 00:18:44] disconnected conspiracy theories because that’s the universe they live in. So, we live in these self-reinforcing information bubbles that are driven by algorithms. The algorithms were there, designed to give people stuff they like, to show them if they want a nice pair of shorts or a bathing suit that they might like or …

Dhru Purohit:
Again, well-intentioned.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well-intentioned, but the consequences now, we sort of let the genie out and it’s out of control. Even the people who develop these systems, I mean, I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg is evil or had an evil intent to create more divisiveness and conflict and disruption in the world and violence. No, I don’t think so. But I also think that the incentives now are to keep doing it and not to stop. We have to start to look at what we’re doing and create different forms of communications and media and social media that are not driven off of these algorithms that tend to cause more disruption, more divisiveness, and are incentivizing the wrong thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, one of the things that’s just shocking to me is, forget all the ads on TV that kids see, and there’s about $10 billion spent on all that, there’s 500 billion ads, 500 billion ads in one year directed at children for junk food on Facebook. That’s terrifying to me. Because the parents don’t even know it. It’s like, you can say, oh, don’t watch your TV kids or don’t watch those commercials about fruit loops, but it’s all the hidden stuff. It’s all stealth. It’s embedded in games. There’s free games for these kids on social media.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They play these games, but in the games, they highlight McDonald’s or they highlight Coca-Cola, they highlight these different kind of food companies that are paying for it. It’s really co-opting these kids’ brains, it’s copying their own free will in a way, and I think that’s what scares me more than anything, is the usurping of free will by this digital persuasion economy, that’s using algorithms to target us in ways that it seems to be things that we like, but it actually keeps … It spirals out of control.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We have to get away to solve that, whether it’s inventing parallel platforms that people can use where that’s not happening. Social media platforms, or whether it’s regulation or legislation, this has gotten to be quite dangerous.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s multifaceted, but most importantly, we have to have a dialogue about it, and even more and important than that is that you, the person that’s watching, the person that’s listening today, you have to be the CEO of your health. You have to be the CEO of your family’s health because ultimately, regulation can do a lot, but it can only do so much. We, at the end of the day, have to drive education for ourselves and for our family, and that’s what this podcast and your work is all about.

Dhru Purohit:
Let continue down the topic of inflammation. Patient comes to you today, what are the signs and what are the ways that the patient says, ouch, that are an indication to you that they have rampant chronic inflammation that has taken over and hijacked their body?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not that hard. Pretty much anybody with any chronic disease inflammation is a player. Whether we have the typical things that we understand is inflammation like auto immunity or allergy or eczema or skin disorders, or it’s the silent inflammation that’s causing heart disease, and cancer, and diabetes, and obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Anybody with a chronic condition is typically inflamed at some level. My job is to then navigate and figure out what’s causing it. Because when you get to the root of inflammation, you don’t actually have to treat the diseases directly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I don’t really treat diabetes. I don’t treat Alzheimer’s. I don’t treat heart disease. I don’t treat cancer. I simply change the biology of the body to normalized function to reduce inflammation, and as a side effect, these things go away. I think that’s a really important concept, because if we don’t understand that root cause medicine is the way we need to go forward, then we’re going to just be constantly spinning out on all these new drug treatments and spending billions of dollars to address this.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, they found out, oh, Alzheimer’s is an inflammatory disease of the brain. So, what do you have to do? Well, they did a whole study taking Advil. It didn’t work and it caused all these side effects. Why? Because they didn’t get to the root of the inflammation. Recently, a big study came out on aspirin. Doctors have been saying, take aspirin to reduce inflammation, to prevent heart attacks. Well, if you read my stuff over the years, I’ve always said bad idea. There are maybe some people who would benefit, but aspirin is not a side effect free drug, and kills as many people as asthma or aids a year because of bleeding, stomach bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, brain bleeding, strokes, hemorrhage.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The recent studies showed that, oh, sorry guys, we were wrong. You can’t just take aspirin to reduce inflammation and prevent heart attacks because it’s going to kill you. It’s more likely to kill you than the heart attack so stop taking it, which was a huge shocker. Because if you talk to any cardiologist, if you talk to any primary care doctor, everybody was on board. I was kind of shocked because I looked at the actual science that was supporting this. I even looked at the American College of Cardiology risk calculator.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s actually a calculator on the American college of cardiology website to put in whether or not you would either get harmed or have benefit from aspirin. Most of the people who are on aspirin actually don’t even qualify or didn’t qualify according to the previous guidelines. Now there’s a whole bunch of people who shouldn’t even, according to those guidelines, be taking it. I think it’s backwards to say, we’re going to shut off inflammation with anti-inflammatories or immune suppressants. I mean, they’re talking about using drugs like Humira, which is a 50,000 year anti-inflammatory drug that’s used for autoimmune disease for depression.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Why? Because depression is inflammation in the brain. The key isn’t to shut up inflammation with a drug, it’s to get rid of the source of inflammation.

Dhru Purohit:
How does traditional and conventional medicine again, well-intentioned, how does traditional and conventional medicine look at and treat chronic inflammation? Where do they think it comes from? And then how do they decide how to tackle it?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s just shocking to me that there really isn’t a conversation about why. Oh, we know Alzheimer’s is inflammatory. Oh, we know depression’s inflammatory. We know heart disease is inflammatory. We know cancer is inflammatory. Okay, so we need to give you anti-inflammatory drugs. There’s no questioning of gee, why in the first place is your immune system so pissed off? What’s creating inflammation? We know so much about it. It’s not hard. It’s our diet, our inflammatory diet, it’s stress. It’s our microbiome issues.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s triggers that, for example, might be from latent infections or allergens or toxins, all these drive inflammation. As a functional medicine doctor, my expertise is in being an expert in understanding toxins, allergens, microbe, stress, and diet, because those are the things that drive inflammation. So, every individual has a different cocktail of things that are off. But my job is to figure out, what is their particular triggers? And get rid of them.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then help their body, on the other hand, calm the inflammation down. There’s a whole bunch of things that cause inflammation, but there’s a lot you can do to reduce inflammation. It’s not by taking Advil or aspirin or steroids, or some chemo drug, or a biologic that costs 50 grand a year. It’s by the simple things that we know how to do. Food is medicine anti-inflammatory, exercise is medicine anti-inflammatory, sleep is anti-inflammatory, meditation’s anti-inflammatory, yoga’s anti-inflammatory.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then there’s a whole bunch of supplements you can take to help reduce inflammation like omega-3 fats and vitamin D, and probiotics, and zinc, and all the phytochemicals you can eat in your food that actually help reduce inflammation, all the spices and all the colorful fruits and vegetables. There’s so much you can do to reduce inflammation in the ways that we see. Now, if you have some latent thing, if you have a lot of heavy metals, or if you have a terrible bug in your gut, or bacterial overgrowth, or you have some in particular gluten sensitivity, you’re going to have to deal with those things too. But for most people, the basics just work so well.

Dhru Purohit:
Well, let’s talk about those basics. You talked about food and you talked about some of the foods that help, and we’ll chat a little bit more about that, but what are some of the examples of the foods that might hurt? What are some of the foods that are out there that could be driving, or at least supporting the process of chronic inflammation, and why do they support that process?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s both what we’re eating and what we’re not eating. We’re eating too many inflammatory foods. 60% of our diet in America is ultra processed food. It means-

Dhru Purohit:
What is that? Talk about the stuff that you see on the shelf. What is an example? Because one thing I’ve realized and why I want to break this down is that, if you go to Times Square, if you go here in Santa Monica where we’re recording, and you go up to most people and you say, “Hey, do you eat healthy?” Most people are going to say, “Yeah, I eat healthy.” Because everybody has a different definition of what it is. Or you ask somebody, “Do you eat a lot of processed foods?” And most people say, No, I don’t eat that much. A little bit here and there. Describe it. What are we talking about here in ultra processed foods.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There are a few commodity crops that are supported by all our government supports from the farm bill that are the raw materials for processed food, corn, wheat, and soy. And they’re turned into all sorts of weird products. The corn is turned into all sorts of food additives and high fructose corn syrup. The wheat is turned into highly pulverized raw flour, which is highly inflammatory. The oils that come from soybeans and corn are often highly processed and inflammatory. We’re eating a lot of ingredients that are derived from these commodity products and ultra processed food that we’re not even aware of.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When you read Maltodextrin or something on a label, you don’t know where that came from. That’s a byproduct of corn from a science project in the factory. When you eat high fructose corn syrup, same thing. We’re eating ingredients that are made from commodity crops that are basically the same three ingredients made into all sizes, colored shapes of chemically extruded food-like substances. If you actually cover over the packaging and look at the ingredients, you literally would see the same ingredients on almost every processed food.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We know, with the few little tweaks here and there. You can’t actually even tell what it is by reading the ingredient list. That’s an ultra processed food. If you buy a can of tomato and it says tomatoes, water, and salt, you know what that is. If the ingredient list is 14, 15, 35 items, and half of them, you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize, and wouldn’t have in your medicine cupboard or your kitchen cupboard, then you should not eat them. I mean, why should we be eating butylhydroxytoluene or a Maltodextrin, or all kinds of weird compounds that are not our natural food supply?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Those are ultra processed foods and it’s a huge component of our diet and it’s highly inflammatory. That’s 60% of calories on average. When you think of all the people who don’t eat that much processed food, the people who are eating them might 70, 80%, right? When you average all Americans, it’s about 60%. In kids, it’s even worse. It’s 70%. 70% for kids. I think 67 and something. It’s terrifying to me. That is really what we should be focused on. Not eating that’s driving inflammation. Sugar and starch is number one, two and three, all the food additives. We eat about five pounds of food additives a year and they can be inflammatory, for example.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All the thickeners emulsifiers, things like Carrageenan in gums that are used in processed food. They often have something called microbial transglutaminase, which is a gluten product that they used to hold the food together, and all these emulsifiers, they cause leaky gut. So, these damage your gut, and when you have a damaged gut, then guess what? The floodgates open, like we talked about earlier in the podcast, you start getting food proteins and bacteria proteins leaking in your bloodstream, your immune system gets all off, and it creates this vicious cycle of inflammation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Eliminating all that weird stuff is so important. If you read the label and you don’t know actually everything that’s on there and you can’t pronounce it, you wouldn’t have it in your medicine cabinet, don’t eat it.

Dhru Purohit:
Let’s talk about next, another category that is directly connected into inflammation, and that is sleep. And one of the biggest drivers of sleep that is affecting so many people is sleep apnea. Talk about sleep apnea and its direct connection to inflammation for most people and how it can increase weight gain and a whole list of other things that are there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it reminds me of this guy, actually, sleep apnea is basically where you have multiple episodes of stopping breathing at night. So, you’ll snore. You might stop breathing for seconds or minutes. Your sleep’s interrupted, and it’s often not diagnosed because you’re asleep and you don’t know you’re doing it. Your partner yell at you or scream at you, or move to another room, or put in ear plugs, but you can actually use devices.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
One of them is a great little app, it’s called Sleep Cycle. It just records your sleep on your phone, and you don’t need anything. It’s just you put your phone by your bed, and you can have it on airplane mode even, and it records your breathing and your sleep and you’re snoring. So, you can see and hear you’re snoring from the app. My stepfather was a big snorer. He never believed it. He had severe sleep apnea, and I literally recorded him with my cassette recorder back in the ’70s because he didn’t believe me when … You can hear him just snoring like an elephant.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s really common. It’s often associated with being overweight, with having a thick neck, with sometimes structural issues, narrow palette, [inaudible 00:32:54] things with your teeth. So, you can be thin in habit, but there may be airway issues. There can be central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea. So, it can come from your brain or from your obstructive airway. What that does, have those repeated awakenings through the night and decreased quality of sleep. It actually causes insulin resistance. It actually causes diabetes. It actually makes you crave more sugar and eat more sugar and carbs. You can often fix weightless issues or diabetes or obesity unless you fix sleep apnea.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It reminds me of a patient I had when I was at Canyon Ranch, who was a lawyer. He’s like, “Look, I can’t lose this weight. I’m 50 pounds overweight. Can you help me?” I’m like, okay, well, talking about your life. “Well, I’m a lawyer.” I’m like, okay. Started getting into, and how do you sleep? Well, okay. I said, well, I’m tired all the time. I said, “Well, what do you mean?” He said, “Yeah, well, I have to have a standup desk. This is before standup desk were possible or I mean, were popular, 25 years ago, “because if I don’t stand up, I fall asleep at my desk.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m like, “Okay, well, how about we check for sleep apnea?” And he had terrible sleep apnea. We gave him a treatment for it, a sleep app machine, and he lost 50 pounds like that. And his insulin resistance went away simply by sleeping. Sleep is so important in regulating your metabolism and inflammation.

Dhru Purohit:
We think of snoring as a funny thing and we might hit our partner or laugh at our parent or grandparent, but really, as a dear friend of both of ours, Dr. Steven Lin, a dentist down in Australia, and he says, “Snoring is choking.” So, you have to think of snoring as choking at night. If you know if you’re snoring, or anybody else is snoring, you’re choking, and you’re choking and that prevents you from getting the right amount of air. Another version of that, that’s milder is breathing through your mouth.

Dhru Purohit:
You’ve done some episodes on this, I’ve done some episodes on this. If you’re breathing through your mouth at night and not through your nose, which is how we’re designed to, that’s also a sign that you might have a mild form of sleep apnea that needs to be addressed because it’s directly tied into promoting inflammation in the body. Let’s talk about another category of things that is a driver of inflammation and that’s our sedentary lifestyle. Talk to us more about that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I mean sitting is inflammatory, as we sit here and do our podcast. That’s why so much of us are struggling is because, when we don’t move, we are actually increasing the poor metabolic function that we have, increasing the risk for muscle loss, increasing the risk for insulin resistance, increasing risk for just chronic inflammation in our body. So, being sedentary is a huge risk for inflammation. On the other hand, exercising enough, but not too much, if you overexercise, if you’re an ultra-marathoner, or marathon runner, it creates more oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But if you do regular exercise, you literally can reduce the inflammation in your body. That’s one of the most important things besides your diet for regulating inflammation.

Dhru Purohit:
You talked about stress. When you sit down with your patients and you talk to them about their lifestyle, what are the biggest contributors that you see over and over again, top level, that are the big factors that drive chronic stress individually from patients? What is it? Is it the relationship, is it the lack of meaning and purpose? What are the things that are out there that you see time and time again, that are really the drivers of the stress that everybody’s dealing with?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s a great question. Why are some people more resilient than others? Why do some people roll with the punches and others just get completely knocked off center? One of the things we use in our practice at Cleveland Clinic and Lennox and Delta Wellness Center is, we call it the ACE questionnaire, or adverse childhood events. It’s essentially a set of 10 questions or so that you get a score for that tracks trauma. Were you abused as a child? Were you unsafe? Just a whole series of questions that help understand if, as a child, you experienced lack of safety or worse, abuse, trauma, incest, so forth.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
A higher score, the more chronic disease risk you have, the more inflammation risk you have, the more likely you are to have autoimmune disease, to have allergies, to have chronic illness. Looking at someone’s childhood is so important and those impacts of trauma. I think we’re just beginning to understand how widespread that is. For example, one in four Americans is a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Think about that. One of four Americans is like 80 million people. That’s a lot of people. I wonder if that’s the 80 million that has autoimmune disease, but I don’t know, but it might be.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
As you begin to look at how do we manage the inflammation response, that’s the first place I start. Then I look at, how do people navigate their minds? Because your mindset plays a huge role in chronic disease. If you’re able to regulate your thoughts, if you’re able to not be constantly triggered and activated by your environment, if you’re able to have a level of equanimity, which can be cultivated and developed through practice, that’s what meditation does and yoga does, and prayer does. There’s a whole series of practices of whatever calls you that you can do, that really helps to reduce the level of stress in your system.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you don’t learn how to do those things, then you just kind of have this unregulated, unmitigated stress response that drives so much chronic disease, and that keeps you inflamed. Yes, I mean, we have to one, look at the original sources and we have to look at how we navigate our lives and how our thoughts are, and how our relationships are, and how our community is. There are a lot of ways to work through that. I think it’s so important for people to understand that they need to build the structures in their life that are constantly battling inflammation. What is that for me? It’s basic practices that I do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I meditate every day, I exercise, I eat non-inflammatory diet. I take the supplements that help my gut microbiome stay healthy. I make sure I have low levels of toxins that I’m exposed to. I make sure I connect with people I love, build community, have deep relationships. That’s, to me, what I do to mitigate and to discharge the stress and inflammation. Because if you don’t intentionally do it, it just accumulates, and it’s tough because we live in a bubble. It’s sort of like being in the Truman Show. We don’t even know we’re in it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’re just victims of, or in the matrix, and we don’t know we’re in it. How do you get out of that and go, “Okay, I’m just going to pause for a minute and reset?” I think that’s a really important set of practices that we can all be doing. It can be fun. It doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. One of my favorite is hot and cold therapies. So, sauna, steam, ice plunge. It’s amazing for discharging stress. Literally your whole system will sort of reset. I remember working in residency. We had an enlightened residency where we only had to work for 30 hours in a row, not 36 hours.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I would get off at noon the day after call, and I’d drive up to this hot springs in California and I would soak in the hot springs, and then I would go in the ice pool. The hot spring was super hot and icing was super cold, and I would go back and forth, back and forth. All my fatigue, all my stress from working in the hospital and the call and the trauma just would go away, and I would like reset. Now it’s a thing, but back then, it was weird, but it’s so powerful. So, you have to learn for yourself, what are those things that you can incorporate that you like into your life on a daily basis that help regulate you?

Dhru Purohit:
Let’s go back to the gut microbiome. You listed that as one of the top things that a disrupted gut microbiome or a dysregulated gut microbiome is one of the key drivers of inflammation. You have in your lifetime, on multiple occasions, had a gut that’s been messed up. We won’t get into the whole journey. We made a couple documentaries about it. If people want to watch them, they’re at drhyman.com/plus, sign up for a free trial. You could watch them, Broken Brain, Longevity docuseries. We’ve talked about them all. But high level, what was missing for you when your gut was dysregulated and how did you begin to take the steps to bring it back into repair?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, I didn’t have the usual things. I was always a weirdo. For me, the first time was mercury poisoning. Mercury is powerfully damaging to the gut. It will bind all the enzymes, it’ll cause leaky gut, and it creates bad bugs growing and yeast over growth. For me, I developed chronic diarrhea, bloating, irritable bowel, bacterial overgrowth, fungal overgrowth. That was really, really, really hard to treat until I got the mercury out. That was my first foray into bad gut. Then I kind of corrected it after I got the mercury out and rebuilt my gut.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then about five years ago, I had a bad tooth and ended up having a root canal. The root canal went bad, got the tooth pulled, and the dentist who was a holistic dentist said, “You better take this antibiotic.” I’m like, okay. I just was a little nervous about it. And it’s a particular antibiotic that’s great for dental infect called clindamycin, but it’s also the biggest cause of what we call C. difficile, which is a terrible intestinal infection that kills 30,000 people a year, and very difficult to treat and they’re using fecal transplants to treat it, almost a hundred percent cure.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then typically antibiotics that are used don’t work that well. I basically developed C. difficile, which was a terrible intestinal infection colitis, and that caused colitis, and then that developed into inflammatory bowel disease. I was having 20 bloody bowel movements a day, severe pain. I lost 30 pounds. It was bad. And all my normal tricks didn’t work. Why? Because my whole system was so screwed up by the mold in my house and by this infection that took over, that even taking prednisone didn’t work.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Next step was taking a biologic and I didn’t want to do that. I began to sort of figure out, how do I really reset my system? Sometimes you just need a powerful set of tools to drive the body out of a stuck inflammatory cycle. Based on my experience and the science and what I understood, I used a combination of things that just almost immediately, flipped my system. One was ozone therapy, one was hyperbaric oxygen therapy. I used high dose, intravenous vitamins and vitamin C, and also stem cells.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And those four things, and exosomes, those four things really flipped my system out of this stuck inflammatory cycle. But that was weird and that’s rare. Most people, I don’t need to do that with, but I’m a weirdo. I get all the worst of everything and then I have to figure it out. And then I learn how to sort of make my work better.

Dhru Purohit:
Well, one of the unique things that came out of that is that, once you got your system back to baseline, and it was really bad, right? It was really bad. We’ve talked about that before, but once you got it back to baseline, you went down this whole rabbit hole of how the power of phytochemicals, as you talked about earlier, phytonutrients, phytochemicals, these plant compounds, on a regular basis, can help you maintain this level of where you’re at. Talk to us about that. How is this that food is really information in this category of phytochemicals?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. For decades, we’ve known that prebiotic fibers are healthy and prebiotic foods are healthy. What is a probiotic? It’s something that feeds the good bacteria. So, it could be various kinds of fibers that are in plant foods, special foods like artichokes, asparagus, plantains, Jerusalem artichokes, all have these special fibers that are really good food for the microbiome. Also, and the probiotics are important to probiotics. There’s all kinds of strains. We also knew that, that we need to make sure we have the right amount of just general fiber as well.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Those are things we understood, but what I didn’t understand was the importance of the phytochemicals in food to feed the good bugs. Because not only do they eat the fiber, but they also are stimulated and love certain phytochemicals. For example, there’s a really important bacteria that I had almost none of, which is called akkermansia muciniphila. Muciniphila means mucin loving, right? Mucin is mucus. Why do you have that? Well, you want to protect your intestinal lining and not get a leaky gut so this bacteria creates this incredible thick mucus layer that prevents bad stuff from getting in.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But if you don’t have this bacteria, you can’t get that. Well, when I had this problem, you couldn’t actually take an akkermansia probiotic. Now they have them. But akkermansia love polyphenols, which are these colorful compounds in fruits and vegetables. They love cranberry. They love pomegranate. They love green tea. They love curcumin. They love all these incredible plant compounds. That was a huge insight. So, we need prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols to create a healthy gut, which is why eating a colorful diet is so important.

Dhru Purohit:
Beautiful. You’ve written about akkermansia, we’ll link to the blog post that you have there. You even talk a little bit about this kind of shake, which includes pomegranate concentrate and a bunch of other things, and you-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Cranberry, green tea. Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
Cranberry and green tea. So, we’ll link to that as well.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That really helped me by the way, that really helped me reset my gut. I created this cocktail of stuff that was designed to incorporate all the knowledge that I had over 30 years of functional medicine. It was a lot of different things and little containers and things. We’ve now created something called gut food, which will soon be available on getpharmacy.com, which combines all these things into one simple powder that you can mix in water or in something else and actually consume it and it will help to provide the food for your gut. We’re calling it gut food.

Dhru Purohit:
Let’s talk about testing when it comes to inflammation. Are there tests that you use and recommend, both with patients that you work with, but also if people don’t have access to a functional medicine doctor, are there tests that you recommend they ask their doctor for to help them understand how inflamed they are?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean, there’s two aspects to this. One is checking for inflammation to see if you’re inflamed and then checking for why you have inflammation. It’s two different things. Why you have inflammation may be imbalances in your gut flora, it may be toxins, it may be allergens, it may be your diet, it may be stress, right? So we have to go down those rabbit holes. In terms of the actual measure of inflammation, we’re getting much more sophisticated about it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s a common test that your doctor can do called C-reactive protein, and that’s really important. It has to be high sensitivity C-reactive protein. That can help you determine if there’s a generalized level of inflammation. It’s good, but it’s not perfect. Then there’s a sedimentation rate, which is an age-old test. It looks at how long it takes your blood to settle. If it’s got a lot of inflammatory proteins. It’s done and settled, and it tests you very fast, that can be a sign.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s common things we use. We can also look at cytokines. We can look at interleukins and we can look at tumor necrosis factor alpha and other biomarkers of inflammation. But that’s just scratching the surface. There’s a whole, as I mentioned earlier, there’s this scientist at Stanford, who’s measured these unique analytes in your blood that doctors normally don’t test that are the most predictive of aging and chronic disease. We should probably be testing things like that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Those are the ways we kind of measure inflammation. We can also look at auto antibodies. We can look at allergens. We can look at immunoglobulin levels. There’s a lot of ways we can look at what’s going on with the immune system. We can look at T-cell function. Lots of things. The basic tests are available through conventional medicine, but the key is not just seeing if you’re inflamed, the key is to ask why you’re inflamed, and then going on the rabbit holes of looking for the causes.

Dhru Purohit:
Can you share a case study from your practice of anybody? Because we have so many different names for modern diseases that are driven by inflammation, but if you can think of one person who had the right mixture of a lot of different root factors that you helped and worked with to get their inflammation under control and then get back to health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely. I’m just thinking of so many patients that are flooding my brain right now, but I’ll just share one story of a woman with rheumatoid arthritis, terrible migraines, and a lot of gut issues. Typically, she was seeing here her rheumatologist and getting all the rheumatology drugs and really struggling. I said, “Well, okay, these are all inflammatory problems, migraines, gut issues, rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s look in and see what’s causing it.” It turned out she had very high antibodies to gluten. So, she was gluten sensitive, and quite significantly, she had bacterial overgrowth gut, and she had super heavy metals.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Systematically, I got gluten out of her diet, I healed her gut, I got rid of the heavy metals, and she had complete recovery. And all the things that were abnormal, her C-reactive protein, her rheumatoid arthritis, antibodies, her migraines, her leaky gut, all normalized. Now it’s 20 years later and she’s still amazing and got rid of all those diagnoses because they were all caused by inflammation.

Dhru Purohit:
You talked about diet, you talked about additional therapies like sauna, hot and cold, other things like that, we talked about exercise. Talk about supplementation. How does it play a role and how could it be helpful in the topic of inflammation?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, just the most basic things can be helpful, right? There was a study published that showed that if you take a multivitamin, your C-reactive protein level goes down, which is awesome. But that’s just one thing.

Dhru Purohit:
And what is the mechanism of that, that you think?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, so, we have a system in our body to control inflammation, and that system requires nutrients, and many of us are nutrient depleted. For example, a multivitamin will reduce C-reactive protein. It does so by activating all sorts of enzymes. What are vitamins minerals? They’re basically helpers. One third of your entire DNA codes for enzymes. What do enzymes do? They turn one molecule to another molecule, one chemical to another chemical in your body, and all the enzymes we have, require co-enzymes or co-factors, helpers. And what are those?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Those are vitamins and minerals. Some of us need a lot more of this one or that one. If we’re low, which a lot of us are, this is not my opinion. This is the government’s own surveys and diagnostic testing, and giant studies of tens and tens of thousands of people, that over 90% of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients at the minimum level you need to prevent deficiency disease. Not how much you need for optimal health or immune function, but how much vitamin do you need to not get scurvy, I mean, to not get rickets? Not very much.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How much vitamin C do you need to not get scurvy? Not very much. But how much vitamin C or vitamin D do you need to regulate your immune system or reduce inflammation? A lot more. Many of us are deficient in nutrients. That’s the mechanism. Then there’s specific nutrients that are really important in inflammation. Omega-3 fats, number one. We need the omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA that typically come from fish oil. We need the vitamin D levels to be adequate and not low.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Because vitamin D regulates hundreds of genes that regulate inflammation. We need to make sure we have adequate amounts of things that help to boost detoxifying compounds in our body like glutathione, which comes from the, for example, broccoli family. When you eat these compounds, they help to increase glutathione, but also you can take supplements to do that, like N-acetyl cysteine, which I think the government is now restricting in some ways, which makes me very nervous, but this is a substance we’ve used for a long time, decades and decades since I’ve been in medical school in medicine as a therapy to help recover people from Tylenol overdose, and liver failure, from kidney failure, from dye contrast, and many other things.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
For asthma and lung inflammation, so it’s one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories in our body. I take supplements to increase glutathione, which really helps. There’s a few things we can do strategically. And then of course, there’s things curcumin and there’s polyphenol supplements and various other things you can take, but those are the most important.

Dhru Purohit:
Talk to us about the role that fasting plays. Fasting, in all its different forms, when it comes to chronic inflammation that plagues so many people.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Our bodies were designed to deal with scarcity, and we have hundreds of genes that help control starvation and put our bodies in a healing and repair state when we are lacking food. We have almost no genes that help us deal with abundance and excess, like the 500 extra calories of corn syrup that every American is exposed to since 1970. When we are in a state of scarcity, our bodies kick into action a whole set of mechanisms that we reduce inflammation, that increase antioxidant systems, that build muscle, that get rid of fat, burn fat, which is good in the case of starvation, and that help to increase stem cell function, and many, many other beneficial factors, improve mitochondrial health, clean up your cells, get rid of waste.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, it’s quite amazing what happens when you have scarcity, when you starve, which is a good thing because you want to keep alive as long as possible. So, everything that is in your body is like, I’m just going to fix everything so I don’t die. How do you get to that state? Well, there’s a lot of techniques that are now being talked about, and they all have the same mechanisms, whether it’s time restricted eating, which is eating within an eight hour, or 10 hour, or 12 hour window, whether it’s intermittent fasting, which is having a 24 hour or 36 hour fast once a week, or more prolonged fast, whether it’s fasting, mimicking diets which are calorie restricted diets for five days of 800 calories.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Whether it’s a ketogenic diet, which restricts carbs and increases fat. That’s actually what we get in when we’re not eating. We get in a ketogenic diet. When we don’t have food, our bodies go in ketosis, but you can do that by eating more fat. All those ways of eating actually activate the body’s own healing mechanism. What happens? Well, you reduce inflammation, you increase antioxidant systems, you increase stem cell production, you increase muscle, you increase bone density, you increase cognitive function and brain chemistry and neuroplasticity. You do all these things simply by activating these ancient healing systems that are designed to protect us from starvation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s kind of like controlled starvation in a way. That’s a good thing. I think it’s really important for us to think about how we do those things on a regular basis. I try to incorporate those strategies regularly in my life.

Dhru Purohit:
Now we’re going to go to our community, our YouTube comments, our Facebook comments, Instagram and podcast community that emailed in. We’re going to take a few questions here and we’re going to start off with the first one. The first one we have here is, what role do grains play when it comes to inflammation, chronic inflammation in the body? Can grains help or hurt chronic inflammations in the body?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Great question, depends on the grain. White flour surely is one of the most inflammatory foods on the planet. Whereas ancient grains like Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat may be one of the most anti-inflammatory foods on the planet. It’s not grains as a whole, it’s which grains, in what form, how were they grown? Where were they grown? What were they grown with? Are they full of pesticides? Are they full of glyphosate? I mean, there are so many layers of things that will actually determine the answer to that question.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In general, though, the way we eat grains in this country is as white flour. 90% of the grains we eat in this country is white flour. Very few people eat whole grain foods. Maybe there’s a whole weed bread, but if you look at the label, it’s mostly white flour with high fructose corn syrup or the few flakes of whole wheat thrown in there, right? It’s not like the dense breads you get in Europe or Germany. I’m not against grains, but I do think that there are challenges for people who eat a lot of flours. It’s probably one of the most inflammatory foods.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And if you have a leaky gut, if you have an imbalance in your microbiome, if you’re not having an intact system in your gut, grains can be a problem. I tend to eliminate grains if I’m really aggressively trying to reduce inflammation. Not forever, but for a short period of time, to try to reset the system, to heal a leaky gut and get people functional again. If you do that, you also do a number of other things, because grains are starch, and depending on how much you eat, having a half a cup of black rice, or I have a cup of buckwheat may not be a problem, but typically, we eat huge amounts of grains.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That drives another pathway for inflammation, which is insulin resistance, or prediabetes, or blood sugar problems. We have to understand that we have to reduce the starch and sugar in our diet. One way of that is, is actually reducing grains. But whole grains can be a part of a healthy diet. It’s just, when you get to eat them? Who gets to eat them? In what context? With what other foods? And where do those grains come from? Are they modern hybridized grains that are full of starch and sugar, or are they ancient grains that have all these phytochemicals and other beneficial properties?

Dhru Purohit:
Next question, how is hormonal balance or imbalance related to inflammation?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The biggest driver of chronic inflammation is stress, which drives all kinds of hormonal dysregulation. It screws up your hormones, the sex hormones, your insulin, blood sugar, cortisol, adrenaline, and it really drives huge amounts of inflammation. If you are actually highly stressed, that will drive a lot of the pathology. I mean, insulin is another hormone. That is a big one that drives inflammation. That’s one of the biggest ones. We talked a lot about that. You’ll see people who are taking hormones, for example, estrogen, or the birth control pill, and depends on what you’re taking. If you’re taking, for example, Premarin, it raises inflammation in the body. It causes a high CRP, so does the birth control pill.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
A lot of people are taking the birth control pill. I’m not saying people should stop the birth control pill, but you want to make sure you mitigate the effects of that. Recently did an Instagram live with the founder of Even, Sarah Morgan, talking about the ways in which, for example, medications deplete nutrients and affect the body adversely. For example, if you’re on the pill, the birth control pill, you may need to take certain nutrients to mitigate the effects of that and help reduce inflammation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Certain things I would never take like Premarin, which is a hormone that drives inflammation, but I certainly wouldn’t tell everybody to stop the birth control pill, but I think you have to know what you’re doing and actually offset the harm by taking the right nutrients to actually mitigate the damage and the inflammation that comes from that.

Dhru Purohit:
Last question here before we go into final thoughts and conclusions, can inflammation be tied to our genetics? Are some people more prone to developing markers of inflammation, especially chronic inflammation?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely. I mean, we’re all heterogeneous. We have 20,000 genes. We have about 5 million variations in those genes. And some of those variations predispose you to inflammation, and we test those. I do that in my actual practice, looking at saliva, swabs that measure DNA. And we can look for variations in certain genes that affect the cytokines like interleukins and the NEFL finds other genes. And we can see, oh, you’re someone who, if you get some trigger, is way more likely to be inflamed. So, there are people who are predisposed to inflammation, but that doesn’t mean they’re predestined to inflammation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They need to identify one, the sources of inflammation in their life and get rid of them. We talked about those, and they need to include anti-inflammatory strategies in their life, an anti-inflammatory diet more polyphenols, probiotics, antioxidants, and obviously other anti-inflammatory strategies like adequate sleep and exercise and stress reduction, so forth. So, hot and cold therapies. We just need to up-regulate the anti-inflammatory system and calm down the inflammatory system. Yes, there are people who are genetically predisposed, but it doesn’t mean they’re predestines.

Dhru Purohit:
So, not everybody will have access to a functional medicine doctor. Obviously, if they do, that’s fantastic and amazing. You can go to ifm.org and find somebody in your area. It is often expensive, insurance doesn’t cover it, and it’s not available to everybody. But if you can, it’s a great thing. If you can’t, and for example, they wanted to explore the topic of genetics, a lot of people have 23andMe data. Are there any of those websites that you like or would recommend to people that they can plug in their raw data and get back some of these unique markers that they have to pay attention for their own genetics?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, there are, as Genetic Genie, which is sort of a interpretive guide where you can plug in your 23andMe data, which can be helpful if we’re looking for problems with methylation and glutathione and detoxification, and some of the inflammation genes. 23andMe only does a small slice of your genome. It doesn’t look at everything. We do more clinical testing. I tend to do that and focus on that. There may be, there’s so much going on right now in this space. I may not be familiar with it, but there probably are companies that are looking at inflammatory genes that are available to consumers.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The question is, what do you do with that information? I think that’s the challenge for people is, how do you change your diet? What supplements to take, what do you avoid? I mean, it gets a little granular. It’s usually better to work with someone who’s experienced to understand these tests, how to mitigate your risk and to create a lifestyle that actually helps to reduce inflammation.

Dhru Purohit:
Mark. Well, this has been a fantastic conversation, a lot of material in here on the topic of inflammation. People are so curious about this topic and have so many questions and I think that we touched on at least a good chunk of those questions. I’m going to pass it over to you for some concluding thoughts and to wrap it up.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, and I’m so happy we got to talk about this Dhru because inflammation is the final common pathway for almost all chronic disease, including depression, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and the list goes on and on. It is our modern scourge. If people want to learn more about it, I encourage them to check out that book, Inflamed, which is about the, not only the biology of inflammation, but the sociopolitical economic drivers of inflammation, which is a little more on the edge, but is a very important book.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I would say that if you feel inflamed, or if you have any diseases or problems that you should checked out and go down the rabbit hole and figure out why, and not just sort of accept that this is your fate or accept that you have to take these drugs that shut off inflammation. And learn a little bit about how functional medicine can help to unravel the causes and create a plan for you that is anti-inflammatory in your life. If you’re listening and you love the podcast and you really know someone, or you have inflammation, share this with your friends and family.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’d love to get everybody to know about this. Leave a comment. How have you managed your information? What tricks have you learned? And subscribe to our every podcast, and we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.
Speaker 3:
Hi, everyone. I hope you enjoyed week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their Find a Practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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