We all know what inflammation is or at least have experienced it. If you’ve ever been scalded by hot water or steam or gotten a sunburn, your skin gets red, hot to the touch and may even swell up.
But you can have also have internal inflammation that you can’t see. It’s still there, like a smoldering ember under the ashes in a fireplace. You can’t see it, but it’s still burning away.
What exactly is inflammation then, and what causes it?
WebMD says, “When inflammation happens, chemicals from your body’s white blood cells enter your blood or tissues to protect your body from invaders. This raises the blood flow to the area of injury or infection. It can cause redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause fluid to leak into your tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process may trigger nerves and cause pain.”
Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, alopecia, and many others can be triggered by inflammation, which is often caused by what we put in our bodies. Strangely, we may be eating foods that we think are healthy, but it’s actually causing the bacteria in our intestines to get out of whack causing what’s called leaky gut syndrome. When that happens, molecules that would normally be kept in the intestinal system, leak into our blood system. Our white cells then try to attack these “invaders” and it causes an inflammatory response like psoriasis on the skin or rheumatoid arthritis in the joints.
There are several steps we can take to put out the invisible fire instead of treating the “smoke”. This is my top list of things you can do now to reduce the inflammation in our bodies:
We all know smoking is bad for us. It’s so well documented and you’ve heard it a million times. So I won’t go into that. If you smoke marijuana, the smoke can definitely cause damage to your lungs and cause inflammation throughout your body. You may want to consider using edibles or another way to use it.
However, if you smoke tobacco, you’re getting a triple-whammy. First, smoking tobacco, just like marijuana is inflammatory in general. But what’s much worse is that nicotine is literally a highly toxic poison that can be used as a pesticide! It doesn’t take very much nicotine to be lethal, and every time you take a drag, you’re inhaling a potent toxin.
Finally, tobacco is in the nightshade family of plants (yes, nightshade is a poisonous plant). The nightshades include plants that have a natural toxin called solanine that are its natural defense against being eaten by insects or animals.
Tobacco smoke is toxic to your body in several ways, and you should speak with your doctor in ways to quit as quickly as you can.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
When we eat inflammatory foods, toxic alkaloid compounds cross the intestinal barrier into our blood stream. Then our white blood cells go rogue trying to attack these invaders, and instead attack healthy tissues like our skin (causing psoriasis) or joints (rheumatoid arthritis) and other autoimmune conditions.
The “Big Three” foods to avoid are grains (including corn), legumes (beans and peanuts) and the nightshades, which includes potatoes, all peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and as mentioned above, tobacco.
In the case of legumes and grains, they all contain a chemical called lectins, which our bodies (actually the bacteria in our bodies) haven’t evolved to be able to digest properly. I’m sure you’ve heard of gluten, as in gluten-free foods. Gluten is a type of lectin, but not the only one.
According to Dr. Steven Gundry in his book, The Plant Paradox, lectins are a disruptor of the bacteria in our gut. By reducing or eliminating lectins from our diet, this will heal your leaky gut and bring back the “good guys” – the good bacteria. Even eliminating eating the animals (primarily beef, pork, chicken and farmed fish) that have been fed lectin-rich foods like corn and soy will more dramatically improve our health.
Furthermore, a lot of grains are treated with glyphosate, a broad-spectrum herbicide, and it’s likely that some of that chemical is still in our foods that we eat. Glyphosate is a huge disruptor to gut health, so again, avoiding all grains – even gluten-free – will help you.
Sugar is another very inflammatory food that should be avoided at all costs, and on average, we Americans consume a whopping 152 pounds of sugar per year or three pounds per week! When we eat sugar, the “bad guys” in our intestines – the bacteria that are causing leaky gut – love and eat sugar. The more sugar we eat, the happier they are, and our leaky gut and inflammation gets worse. Cut out every source of sugar you can find, and starve the “bad guys”.
Avoid Inflammatory Oils
You probably have a bottle of “vegetable” oil sitting in your pantry. Guess what? Despite the name and its brilliant but very misleading marketing ploy, it’s not made from vegetables. Nope. It’s mostly made from the rapeseed, and “rapeseed oil” doesn’t sound very tasty or healthy, does it? Same thing with canola oil – it’s mostly rapeseed oil. This and other oils like sesame oil, peanut oil (which has lectins in it!), go rancid easily, so they’re chemically treated to remove the rancid fats. These oils are all inflammatory in nature and should be avoided.
Instead, stick with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil (excellent to cook with), or even bacon fat. I keep a jar of bacon fat going in my fridge at all times.
The previous three points discuss what we should avoid. Next, what should we do to heal our gut?
One of the most potent healing tactics we have is to use probiotics. What exactly are probiotics though? Our intestines have trillions of bacteria that live there. It’s essential to life, and the bacteria spend their days breaking down whatever we eat – good or bad – into smaller molecules that our bodies can take up and use to grow new tissues, heal wounds, give us stores of energy, and so on.
A probiotic is basically like getting a shot of the “good guys” to repopulate the desired bacteria in our gut, which will help push the “bad guys” out of the neighborhood. The more of the “good guys” we have, the more our bodies will heal.
There are several sources of probiotics:
- Over the counter probiotics at your local drugstore. Unfortunately, you might as well flush your money down the hole with this. Most of the bacteria doesn’t survive the acid in your stomach to do any good, and who knows how long it’s been sitting on the shelf? You have no idea how viable the contents of the capsule are.
- Yogurt and other fermented dairy products like Yakult. These are typically loaded with sugar. Bleah. See the previous section.
- Sporulated probiotic bacteria (sounds yummy doesn’t it?). This is actually your second-best choice if you want a capsule and don’t like option #4. These strains of bacteria are in spore form and can survive the harsh stomach acid. They arrive in the small intestine and “activate” to repopulate your gut flora. Dr. Danielle’s probiotic formulation is the only one that I’ve found that uses sporulated bacteria.
- Raw, fermented foods like raw sauerkraut. I love sauerkraut! I eat it for breakfast every morning. It has over 100 times the probiotic load as you’re going to get in a capsule. If you’re not a fan, it can be a bit of an acquired taste, but I personally love the stuff. Make sure you buy the kind in the refrigerator section of the store or make your own (it’s cheap and easy – just cabbage, salt and water). If it’s not refrigerated and sitting in the middle of the store with the Vlasic pickles, that stuff has been pasteurized and has no bacteria in it. It’s dead and completely useless.
Turmeric is a rhizome or underground stem of an herb that’s closely related to ginger, which is also a rhizome. Turmeric is dried and made into an herb that’s used in curry and many other delicious dishes. It’s an ancient herb that’s been used for centuries to treat various maladies, but it’s known to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, and it can help people with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis.
The downside to curcumin is that it doesn’t absorb very well if you just eat it. For some reason, combining it with black pepper helps it to absorb better.
I take 1-2 capsules at each meal (up to six) for a total of 3g of turmeric per day. Dr. Danielle’s turmeric/curcumin formulation includes black pepper so it improves absorption. When I started taking it, I didn’t notice any difference in my skin. But I stuck with it, and at about the six month mark, suddenly, my skin started clearing. Psoriasis is a slow-moving disease, so you have to have patience!
Molecular Hydrogen (H2) Water
My bet is that you’ve never heard of this. It’s been proven that molecular hydrogen (two hydrogen atoms form a molecule – the chemical symbol is H2) is a strong antioxidant and scavenger. Because it’s the smallest molecule in the universe, it can easily slip in between cells and into the inner workings of your cells like the mitochondria to help you heal.
But how do get hydrogen into your body?
First a little science. Molecular hydrogen the lightest gas and burns easily (it forms water vapor when it burns). You need to have an alkalizing machine which splits the water molecule back into hydrogen gas and oxygen molecules. You might have heard that drinking alkaline water is good for your health. Alkaline means that it has a higher pH than neutral. A high pH is the opposite of acidic or low pH water.
You can buy alkaline water at the store, but that won’t help you at all – it’s done with chemicals, not electricity, and there is no hydrogen in it. The alkalinity isn’t what’s important. When you alkalize water with electricity (using your machine), it causes the pH to rise and dissolves the hydrogen gas in the water, which you then drink.
Sounds like utter BS, right?
Believe me, I was a skeptic of what I thought was snake oil potion. But there have been uncounted scientific studies into the benefits of drinking it or applying molecular hydrogen water directly to affected areas. As a powerful antioxidant, hydrogen water reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the body by removing free radicals.
The technology has been in use in Japan for nearly half a century, and they’ve perfected it. A company called Enagic has several residential units that produce seven different types of water of varying pH, but their high pH Kangen water is what’s medically significant. The 9.5 pH water has lots of dissolved H2 gas in it, and I drink up to 96 ounces every day.
Eat Foods High in Antioxidants
The last of my list of what you can do to reduce inflammation is to eat foods that are high in antioxidants. The number one item on the list is CHOCOLATE! Yes, it’s a health food and has the highest amount of antioxidants. But that doesn’t mean you have license to go pig out on Snickers bars. Nope, they’re loaded with sugar, and milk chocolate isn’t what you should be eating anyway. You want the darkest chocolate you can find, with the least amount of sugar possible.
Trader Joe’s carries many dark chocolate bars. Look for the ones with the highest cacao percentage and no sugar added (many will use sugar alcohols like maltitol to make it sweeter).
So in descending order of amount of antioxidants, the foods you should try to eat nearly every day are:
- Dark chocolate
- Kale – any of the brassicas (broccoli, etc.)
- Red Cabbage
In general, eating a rich mix of good fruits and vegetables will maximize the phytonutrients you get into your body. Phytonutrients are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and can repair DNA damage from exposure to toxins.
One product that I can’t recommend enough is Juice Plus+. They’ve also been in business for 50 years, and they’ve found a way to condense 30 organic fruits and vegetables into capsule or gummy form. Gummies are great for kids or those who don’t like swallowing pills. My wife and I have been using Juice Plus+ for over a year, and have noticed a big improvement in our overall health.