Coming up on this episode of the Doctor’s Farmacy.
Dr. Mark Hyman:
The main thing that you eat in your diet that’s anti-inflammatory are the rich array of colorful phytochemicals in plant foods. So these are powerful medicines in food that reduce inflammation.
Hey everybody. Welcome to Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s Farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. And today I’m bringing you a little new feature of the Doctor’s Farmacy called Health Bites to improve your health because taking small steps daily can lead to significant changes in your health over time.
So today we’re going to talk about one of the most important topics in medicine called inflammaging. Inflammation is the hot topic of the day, pun intended. And so let’s talk about it. What is inflammation? What is inflammaging? How does our immune system work? What the heck’s going on here? And why are you hearing all about this in the news? First of all, our immune system is important. It should fight against infections and invaders. It should protect us from foreign antigens. It should survey our body for cancers and harmful things and go attack them all. That’s good stuff. So we don’t want to shut off our immune system, but we want it overactive. When we live our current modern lifestyle, it’s highly overactive. It starts to create allergies, autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia. Obviously, these are all inflammatory diseases.
So the unifying theme in medicine today is this concept of inflammation, and the rate of inflammation is driving this incredible burden of chronic disease and poor metabolic health. And we’re having to deal with stress as we never had to deal with before, from toxins, from poor diet, from inflammatory foods, from processed foods that are increasingly causing our bodies to rebel and to become inflamed. And why do we call it inflammaging? Because we see that as we get into the state of sterile, chronic inflammation, it’s not like an acute infection where you get a red, sore, hot, swollen pusy thing or like a sore throat. It’s this low grade, persistent, indolent, chronic inflammation that’s sterile. It’s not from an infection. And it can be triggered by toxins, environmental toxins, which we’re exposed to. There’s 84,000 now on the market since the 1900.
Allergens, which are increasingly, common in our food supply from the alteration of our foods, and also our microbiome is hugely disrupted, which causes massive amounts of inflammation because of lack of fiber, gut busting drugs such as acid blockers, and antibiotics, and steroids because of glyphosate that’s sprayed in all our food. The herbicide roundup that leads to gut microbiome destroying phenomenon in the gut. So all these things and more, stress, lack of exercise, all these things drive inflammation in the body. So how do we begin to think about the process of this chronic low grade sterile inflammation in our bodies? How do we start to deal with those factors, and what are the steps you can do to address this?
Because the central thing you have to do if you want to stay healthy, if you want to live a long time, if you want to feel good, if you want to avoid the chronic disease of aging, is to address this phenomena of inflammation. And I just finished my book. I finished writing it and rereading it called Young Forever, where I talked about one of the central hallmarks of aging, which is inflammaging, and it relates to all the other hallmarks of aging. And it’s central to regulate as we get older because we get more and more of this chronic inflammation. In fact, we create zombie cells in our body, and these zombie cells don’t completely die, but they rove around our bodies, secreting all this inflammatory gunk, and it infects other cells in a sense and causes those to become zombie cells, and it creates this cascade of inflammaging, which we need to stop.
So what are the things that we can do to actually reduce inflammaging and cut inflammation feel better? Most important thing is change our diet. The diet we’re eating, our sad diet, our inflammatory diet, our ultra-process diet, our diets high-end starch and sugar, refined oils. It’s full of additives, pesticides, herbicides, emulsifiers, thickeners, additives, sweeteners. It’s a disaster, and it’s an inflammation causing mess. So we want to get rid of those inflammatory foods in our diet, and we’ll talk about some specific ones in addition to the just junk food. For example, gluten is a huge inflammatory food in our diet because of the way we change our wheat production. People go to Europe and they don’t react. But in America, the dwarf wheat has way more gluten proteins, way more starch and sugar, so it’s way more inflammatory. So we really want to avoid, as much as possible if we have any kinds of inflammation, gluten foods.
And ideally, if you can get ahold of heirloom gluten foods like Farro, and Triticale, and Kamut, and emmer wheat, and einkorn wheat, and zea wheat. These may be better for you if you don’t have celiac disease, and they may not cause the same level of inflammation. But we’re mostly not eating those foods. Dairy is the other big one, and in my practice I see it all the time. It creates congestion, and digestive issues, and allergies, and acne, and generalized inflammation. I really encourage people to get rid of most conventional dairy and obviously gluten. And then of course, sugar. Sugar is a huge factor in inflammation the body by its effect on laying down belly fat. Belly fat is not just holding up your pants, but it’s producing things called adipocytes cytokines. Adipocytes, which are your fat cells produce cytokines, these inflammatory molecules that rove around your body, creating basically a wildfire of inflammation.
So the more belly fat you have, the more inflammation you have, the more sugar eat, the more belly fat you have. It’s a vicious cycle. So getting off of all those refined, processed foods, sugars, dairy, that’s conventional dairy, goat and sheet might be okay, some heirloom forms of wheat maybe okay, or gluten, but basically keep those things really down. Then the question is, what do you eat instead? Well, you eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
And the main thing that you eat in your diet that’s anti-inflammatory are the rich array of colorful phytochemicals in plant foods. The deep reds, blues, purples, oranges, yellows, greens. These are powerful medicines in food that reduce inflammation significantly in the body through multiple mechanisms. And the more close to the wild you can get, the better. The more organic or regeneratively can get, the better. The farmer’s markets are great for that. Your average tomato that’s been shipped across the country and stored in a box and can last for months on a shelf is not going to be full much. But if you go have that August tomato that’s riping on your vine and your little cherry tomato and you pop it in your mouth, it’s like an explosion of flavor. So I encourage you to think about how you can up regulate your anti-inflammatory system by eating these phytochemicals.
Next is omega-3 fats. Hugely important in regulating inflammation, and I would stick with the small fish, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, small wild salmon can be very good. Lots of low glycemic fruit, berries, kiwis. Berries are great. Nuts and seeds, very anti-inflammatory as well. Walnut, almonds, pecans, hazel nuts, macadamia nuts. Also, you can have pasture-raised animals. We know that grass-fed animals, pasture-raised animals very different than conventional. We know from studies that if you have conventional meat, you’ll raise inflammation. If you have, for example, wilder pasture-raised or grass-fed meat, it’ll lower inflammation. The metabolomic profiles are quite different of these foods even gram for gram of protein. So all meat is not the same.
Also, there’s importance in keeping your gut healthy. So making sure you’re having prebiotic food, probiotic foods. Prebiotic foods are different fibers that you can get from artichokes, from Jerusalem artichokes, from asparagus, from plantains. Very, very important. And then probiotics foods to keep your gut healthy. Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, Miso, Natto, Tempeh, all these are traditional ancient foods that have been fermented that help your microbiome. And of course, herbs and spices are really, really helpful in reducing inflammation, particularly rosemary, ginger, garlic, turmeric, oregano, parsley, very anti-inflammatory.
And you can include these as just part of your general cooking. Curcumin, super important, one of the most important anti-inflammatory, which is found in turmeric, which you make curries with. But this yellow spice is a super anti-inflammatory compound. Guess what? Also exercise is hugely anti-inflammatory. Now if you over-exercise, but if you exercise enough, so having 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day and strength training a few times a week can really help reduce inflammation, strengthen your immune system, help to improve your insulin sensitivity, reduce the inflammation that comes from that.
So really important to move, getting your mind straight. Our mind is a great source of inflammation. When we’re stressed, we produce a lot of inflammation in our bodies and stress molecules increase. We know that gene expression for inflammation compounds increase when you’re stressed. So we can’t avoid stress. We have to learn how to regulate our cortisol levels. We have to learn how to master our minds. We learn can master our diets, we can exercise, we can sleep and all those things, but unless you get your mindset straight, unless you get your thinking straight, you’re going to be generating a lot of stress in your body, which is going to age you rapidly. And lastly, there’s some supplements you can take that will really make a difference. Vitamin D, super important, regulates over, I don’t know, probably two, 300 different genes, many of them regulated inflammation that’s involved in improving your immune system, reducing risk of infections and flu, COVID, and also helps to reduce your risk of cancer. Really important.
Probably about two to 4,000, 5,000 units a day of vitamin D3, really important. Also, fish oil. You can take fish oil. I recommend highly the people use omega-3 fatty acid supplements because we just don’t get enough on our diet. I love the Dutch Harbor Omega supplements from Big Bold Health. They contain resolvins which are not processed out of them. These resolvins are things that resolve inflammation. They’re like the break on your immune system. So they’re processed out of most of the fish as we see, but Big Bold Health, Dutch Harbor Omega is full of them. Curcumin, as I mentioned, can be taken as a supplement as well and has very powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties. The B complex also really important in regulating metabolism, immune function, antioxidant levels, glutathione levels, all important in regulating inflammation.
And another one that’s really great I love is derived from something called Himalayan Tartary buckwheat, which is an ancient grain, not even really a grain. It’s a flower that was grown in the Himalayas and it’s full of these powerful anti-inflammatory immune modulating phytochemicals, including to a hobo, which has found nowhere else in nature that we know of yet. And also high level of quercetin, and [inaudible 00:10:58], and aspirin, and other bioflavonoids that are really important in regulating immunity, and cancer, and have been shown to help in longevity and extending life and animal studies. So pretty impressive. I like to take this as a supplement and something called HTB Rejuvenate, which again, you can get from Big Bold Health, and it’s full of these phytochemicals that modulate your immune system.
So the good news is that we can really do a lot about inflammation. The bad news is we’re doing everything wrong in our society, but we can shift that. And if you really focus on inflammaging as a phenomena that you have to deal with and learn the steps you need to take to resolve it, you can really have a long, healthy life without worrying about many of the chronic disease of aging. So really critical to get your immune system straight and get inflammation under control.
All right. Well, that’s it for today’s Health Bite on the Doctor’s Farmacy and hope you share this with your friends and family, who I’m sure all inflammaging, and teach them how to not do that. Leave a comment how you helped deal with your own inflammation and inflammaging, and we’ll see you next time on the Doctor’s Farmacy.
Hi, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this 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.