This post will be about understanding how inflammation in the body takes place and what you can do to reduce/stop it. After reading this post you’ll be more careful with what you put in your stomach seeing as how it contains 60 % of your immune system, remember!
Here is part 3.
Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to give the impression that I came up with this information and research by myself, all rights are reserved by Dr. Mark Hyman. Chunks of the text may also be directly quoted from the book without me knowing it
Cool off Inflammation
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural defense system against infection, irritation, toxins, and foreign molecules. When your body detects problems like these, a cascade of events occur in which white blood cells and chemicals called cytokines mobilize to protect you from foreign invaders.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
When the natural balance of your immune system is disrupted, the immune system shifts into a chronic state of alarm, spreading a wildfire of inflammation throughout the body and starts attacking the cells and tissues of your own body, which can create major problems. (cancer on large scale)
Cytokines = A class of proteins that are the “language” of your immune system, much like how neurotransmitters are the “language” of your nervous system, and hormones are the “language” for the endocrine system. Cytokines promote or reduce inflammation depending on the situation.
Allergies, autoimmune diseases and more are all related to elevated levels of cytokines and systemic inflammation.
Treating the gut, or giving b12, b6 and folate, omega-3 fats, vitamins A or D, magnesium and zinc, + eliminating gluten & casein (dairy protein) – good ways of reducing inflammation
Is depression a systemic inflammatory disease?
How can exercise and fish oil often be a more effective treatment for depression than antidepressants? Could it be because they are both potent anti-inflammatories? Could it be that depression is a low-grade inflammatory disease of the brain? Let’s look at the evidence:
- Proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6, and TNF (molecular messengers that set off the inflammatory response) and bacterial toxins – produce symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Cytokines overactive the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis (the stress-response), just as we find in depressed patients.
- Cytokines (often from increased cortisol) increase the function of an enzyme (IDO) that breaks down tryptophan, leading to less serotonin in the brain (making you less happy).
- The immune system is overactive in severe depression, producing brain inflammation.
- Using Immune therapy like interferon (a cytokine) for diseases like hepatitis C or multiple sclerosis triggers depression.
- Depression is more common in inflammatory diseases like autoimmune diseases and heart disease.
And there is more evidence that inflammation can cause depression. A new technique called vagal nerve stimulation is very helpful in depression. The vagus nerve is your calming, relaxation nerve. When you take a deep breath, meditate or do yoga, the nerve is activated and triggers the release of choline – which reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
To that I’d just like to add that in order for the vagus nerve to be stimulated you need to be doing the breathing correctly, through your stomach calmly, you should be able to feel it calm you down after a short while.
Causes of inflammation
- Our inflammatory diet which consists of an average of 158 pounds of sugar per year, refined flours, as well as trans-fats and saturated fats. (Think back on what was mentioned in a previous post about the human body evolved being used to at most a few spoonfuls of sugar per year – now you can see why it spikes our insulin)
- Food allergens – mostly delayed reactions to food or hidden allergies that lead to “brain allergies” (allergic reactions in the body that causes inflammation in the brain)
- Imbalances in the digestive function and the gut immune system that produce widespread systemic effects
- Toxins such as mercury and pesticides (and the 85000 mostly untested toxins in our environment), which have been linked to immune dysfunction and autoimmune diseases.
- Low-grade, hidden, or chronic infections such as HIV-associated dementia, syphilis etc..
- Stress – emotional or physical, such as trauma.
- Sedentary lifestyle (sitting by the computer several hours a day without exercising)
- Inadequate sleep – fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night (depends on the person though)
- Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin C,B,D, Zinc and omega-3 fats
The surge of insulin in the body also turns on cellular switches that increase the inflammatory cytokines, just as happens when you have the flu. Except it doesn’t go away, but persists for decades, doing its damage slowly. There is no scientific controversy here. The evidence is in. sugar causes inflammation. The insulin-resistant fat cells you pack on when you eat too much sugar produce nasty inflammatory messengers (cytokines) like TNF and IL-6, spreading their damage to the brain.
“Problems arise when the immune system (or the nervous system) overreacts to normally innocuous substances like food proteins or microbes that normally live in harmony with us.
Three basic abnormal reactions to foods can trigger brain injury. First they can trigger inflammation, which in turn inflames the brain. Second, small partially digested food proteins, called peptides, from gluten and casein can act to disturb the normal neurotransmitter function in the brain, and third they can act as “excitotoxins”, increasing glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) and creating a chain reaction that overexcites, injures, inflames and ultimately kills brain cells.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
Blood tests can help you identify problems with food allergies.
Elimination process of foods to see what you are allergic to
Here are a few typical foods that you can try to eliminate for a week at a time:
- Gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, triticale, kamut) (Many people are not allergic, yet still sensitive to gluten causing inflammation)
- Dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt) (Many are sensitive to dairy too, without knowing it)
- Nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant)
- Yeast (baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast – alcohol and beer, fermented products like vinegar)
Fix Your Digestion
Your stomach has around 3 pounds of bacteria culture in it that (hopefully, depending on your diet) helps you digest food and produce vitamins.
There are trillions of bacteria in your gut and they collectively contain at least 100 times as many genes as you do. The bacterial DNA in your gut outnumbers your own DNA by a very large margin. This bacterial DNA controls immune function, regulates digestion and intestinal function, protects against infections, and even produces vitamins and nutrients.
Your gut is your second brain – The small intestine has as many neurons as the spinal cord.
95% of the body’s serotonin (happy hormone) is produced by the gut nerve cells and every class of neurotransmitters found in the brain is also found in the gut.
Many different factors affect gut – and brain-health:
- Unfriendly bacteria in the guy and other bugs like yeast that produce brain toxins
- Fermentation of starches from your diet, which produce gas and toxic levels of ammonia
- Odd, partially digested food proteins that interfere with normal brain operations
- Activation of the immune system because of digestive imbalances that damage the protective barrier, which normally keeps the outside world from entering through the gut
Good VS bad intestinal bugs/bacteria
Good bugs/bacteria: l. acidophilus, l.salivarius, l. casei, l,thermophilus, B. bifidum, B longum, and more
Bad bugs/bacteria: Pathogenic bacteria & fungi, yeast (eventual parasites in your stomach), toxin producing bacteria.
There are around 20 good bacteria, whereas there are over 700 bad sorts of bacteria that may live in your stomach. You want to achieve a 85/15% ratio of good/bad bacteria.
The good bacteria compete with the bad bacteria for the spot in your stomach, and you are always supporting either team depending on what sorts of food you’re eating. Good bacteria likes probiotics, nuts (healthy fats), vegetables, fibers, greens and everything else stereotypically healthy..
Bad bacteria like most stereotypical unhealthy foods as well as protein, sugars, carbohydrates. They also like antibiotics.
Magnesium + Zinc are good for digestion.
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, by Dr Henry Lin mapped out a new way of thinking about irritable bowel and the psychological symptoms seen in irritable bowel patients. He turns the current view on its head by saying that bacterial mischief in the small intestine (from bacteria that migrate up from the large intestine into a normally sterile territory) triggers an immune and nervous system “sickness behavior”, anxiety, depression, and impaired cognitive function. The gut immune system “speaks” to the brain, sending messages of inflammation, which increases levels of CRF (corticotropin releasing factor) in the hypothalamus ( which in turn, increases stress hormones like cortisol), and changes neurotransmitter levels.
So, bottom line – little bacteria in our gut start a cascade of immune and neurological events that stop our brain from doing what it’s designed to do and this creates poor connections and communications all around.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
Follow these five simple steps to begin rebalancing your gut flora.
- Eat a fiber–rich, whole foods diet—it should be rich in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables—all of which feed good bugs.
- Limit sugar, processed foods, animal fats, and animal protein—these provide food for unhealthy bugs.
- Avoid the use of antibiotics, acid blockers, and anti-inflammatories—they change gut flora for the worse.
- Take probiotics daily—these healthy, friendly flora can improve your digestive health and reduce inflammation and allergy.
- Consider specialized testing—such as organic acid testing, stool testing (new tests can look at the DNA of the bacteria in your gut), and others to help assess your gut function. You will likely have to work with a functional medicine practitioner to effective test and treat imbalances in your gut.
Peptides: Gluteomorphins and caseomorphins are the bad proteins from gluten and rye – they’re absorbed from the gut and find their way to the brain where they cause behavior and mood problems.
Peptides can be measured in a urine sample.
Many people with weak digestion have low levels of or poorly functioning digestive enzymes. Some of these cases are genetically determined. Toxins such as mercury, which can come from silver dental amalgams or large predatory fish like tuna, inactivate these digestive enzymes. In other instances, the digestive enzymes are not activated because of low stomach acid, poor pancreatic function, or zinc deficiency (zinc is often needed to turn on these enzymes).
One important link between digestive enzymes and peptides is the failure of a particular enzyme called DPP-IV. This enzyme is important in breaking down foods, particularly gluten and casein. When it malfunctions, these noxious peptides are often created in the gut and end up in the brain.”
The surface of the stomach and intestines, laid out flat, would be roughly the size of a tennis court, but only one cell layer thick. If this delicate surface is gets damaged, you may experience inflammation to your brain and body.
Damage to this delicate barrier is called a leaky gut, which is known in medical terms as increased intestinal permeability.
If you eliminate food allergens from your diet for six weeks, and taking digestive enzymes, zinc, and probiotics can all help repair the damaged intestinal lining and bring your brain back into balance. (This is what I’m currently doing, and seeing some results)
Drug companies invent diseases to create markets for their drugs. They attempt to make us think that humans can’t feel good and live with normally functioning digestive tracts without help from powerful drugs with dangerous side effects. This is absurd.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
Until next time!