There is some controversial data that you will come across as you search for information about health, weight loss, diet and vascular disease. We are discussing inflammation of our bodies here. We all know that the way we heal wounds and fractures is through a process called “inflammation”. This means bringing new cells to an area that is injured so the body can fight off infection, or rebuild something broken, or repair something worn out. This process has evolved as we have evolved and allows us to live a long time in hopefully good health. This healing process takes place even when life is tough. An example would be when a deer breaks a leg, the bone will shorten and overlap. The deer can’t walk on it so it lies quietly under a tree for three or more weeks, eating very little and sipping a little water from a puddle, perhaps. By a month, some early callous or fluffy bone gets laid down between the overlapped bones and becomes marginally stable so the deer can limp on it and move around to improve its nourishment. As the weeks go by, the deer can put more weight on it and move better and do more. By six months the deer can cruise pretty well on the short leg. By a year, the deer’s bone healing process replaces the primitive bone with sophisticated new strong bone that will be slightly stronger than before the bone was injured. This is all due to the inflammation process that nature designs to heal us all up when we get “wounded”. This process requires calories as well as building materials. The materials, like calcium and phosphorus are taken from healthy bone and put around the injured bone. The weakened intact bone will get strong again when the deer can walk, run and take nourishment once again. The calories come from fat or muscle, so the deer temporarily loses weight and gets weak.
Can we wound our own bodies? Sure we can. Smoking, abusing alcohol, inhaling polluted air, are all examples of how we can wound ourselves and suffer for it. What about our diet? In this blog we will look at the theories that we can harm ourselves by eating the wrong foods or taking certain medications. Granted that osteoporosis, arterioscleroses, hypertension and diabetes are a long way from a deer with a broken leg, but the body uses miraculous reserve equipment to bail us out when things go wrong. When we keep abusing ourselves, our bodies cannot resolve the injuries we keep inflicting. When we stop the abuse, there is some healing the body can do. The older we get, the less able our bodies are to repair themselves. So it is important to get busy making some changes as early in your life as you can.
The goal of reading this blog is to understand how you can cut down the inflammation that goes on in your body throughout your lifetime. We only want inflammation around when there is a wound to heal or something to clean up.
What are the things that we can control that inflame our bodies?
Think of your digestive system as a conveyer belt that is 33 feet long. You have your stomach, which acidifies food we eat and churns it around and then moves it into the duodenum where some bile acids may be added. The main digestive work is done in the 25-foot long small bowel. Think of the digestive process as a conveyer belt where the broken down food particles move along. It would be like those baggage pick up areas in airports only your bag just goes by just once. The workers (digestive cells) sit there and wait for specific molecules to roll by. One cell might be looking for a protein and another might be looking for a fat globule. Fat comes through free of charge; it requires no energy to come through. That is why you can get fat eating 1500 calories a day of lard and lose weight eating 1500 calories of carbohydrate or protein.
Your body might need something like an omega-3 fat found in flax seed oil and fish. If you were a cell in the small intestine just looking for omega-3 fat, wouldn’t you be disappointed if none came through that day? Some of these cells only live 3 days and may never find what they are looking for. So it is important for us to eat a wide variety of healthy foods so these cells are not disappointed, just like you don’t want to be disappointed when you pick up your bag at an airport.
When we eat too much food at once, the chyme (partly digested food) roars by pretty fast and the worker cells have trouble not making mistakes. They may grab the wrong molecule and put it in the blood when the body does not need it and identifies it as an antigen or “bad guy” and makes an antibody to “take it out”. This is inflammation, a little war that goes on all the time. It tends to age us and wear us down, so we want to minimize this little war. One way is to eat small meals. Please see Luigi Cornaro’s blog from 500 years ago where he figured it out and cut his feedings to 12 ounces of food a day and lived to be over 100 years old. When we just limp by on barely enough calories like Luigi, we achieve incredible health and longevity. This has been studied extensively in volunteer animals that were disgusted by how much they were eating. Clive McCay, Roy Wolford and one of his disciples, R. Wiendruch and many more have been all over this since the 1930s. Wiendruch has restricted calories in primates to see if this information was valid for humanoids, and it is. His “calorie restricted” monkeys were smaller and more active and lived longer than those that “ate it all”. This is basically what happens in bariatric surgery.
You can see what the “restricters” are up to through this link. http://www.crsociety.org/
You might say that you think this is all fine and good by you do not want to live a long and healthy life being hungry all the time. Think of it as a sane alternative to spending the sunset of your life sitting in doctor’s offices and waiting for bad news, and listening to your kids hassle you about getting a will filled out so “we don’t have to go through probate”.
“Outliving our kids” could be our ultimate revenge.
So one way to cut down on inflammation in our bodies is to cut down on the volume of food that we eat.
The next way is to protect these hard working digestive cells so they don’t get sick and become unable to do their important jobs. These cells depend on prostaglandin like a glove to protect them from what they are trying to digest and “bring on board”. They work shoulder to shoulder, secured with desmosomes, which keep them from coming apart. When the prostaglandin breaks down, the desmosomes fail and some space develops between these precious small bowel cells and larger, uninvited molecules can enter the bloodstream and inflame the liver. You do not want that.
So how can we keep our prostoglandin intact? It breaks down with most nsaids, alcohol, steroids, antibiotics, and cytotoxic drugs.
When this leaky gut develops, the treatments can help the body with the inflammation but make the digestive damage actually worse. The concept of leaky gut is controversial and not completely accepted. There are tests for it and people do get better once it is properly treated. A reasonable discussion on the subject is provided here http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/08/1089000262822.html?from=moreStories
So another way to cut down our inflammation in out bodies is to protect our intestinal linings and avoid “leaky gut”.
Another way we can avoid inflammation is by being very picky about what we eat. You have stumbled across articles that talk about fats and their effects on our health. It’s confusing, right? Well, fats that we eat get right to the heart of inflammation. So here you are, one of those digestive calls down in the small bowel and word comes down that the body needs more omega-3 fats. You watch the “chyme” go by and no omega-3s today. Plenty of omega-6 fats but no omega-3s. That is the way we roll in America. We eat lots of omega-6 fats and few omega-3 fats. Omega-6 fats make us run hot (red) and omega-3s make us run cold or not inflamed (green). These fats are unsaturated fats in that they have an unsaturated bond 3 atoms over from the end, or 6 atoms over, ie the names for the fats. Both are essential but we get so many omega-6 fats that we do not have to bother with it. There is agreement in the medical community that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats has profound effects on our health. It comes down to inflamed or not inflamed.
So where are the omega-6 fats lurking? Everywhere. We have been flooded with soybean oil which pounds us with omega-6s. Also noted are that fast food retaurants that deep fry everything in vegitable oil rich in omega-6 oil. Our ratio of omega-6 to 3 should be one to one, but it is 20 to 1. This pro-inflamatory ratio is responsible for accelerating arteriosclerosis, and harming our immune system. It also causes mental problems like depression and manic depression.
Omega-3s live in flax seeds, oily ocean fish like wild salmon, walnuts, macadamia nuts. How much of that do you eat? It is a problem isn’t it? You can jack up your omega-3s with some fish supplement capsules but you also need to switch your diet to plants, fish, nuts, berries, fruits and whole grains and limit eating out. Egaads.
Let’s talk corn. Corn is packed with omega-6 fats. It is subsidized heavily by our government so that farmers can make a lot of money shifting to growing corn. We grow it more cheaply than our Mexican neighbor to the south. It is mostly bioengineered meaning that it can’t be killed by the herbacide Roundup. I do not know if that is bad for us or not but we can’t ship our bioengineered foods to Europe so do they know something we don’t? We now use corn in so many products that it can not be determined by the consumer. So why bother? Just eat the foods that have minimum omega-6 fats and maximize your omega -3 fats and take some omega-3 supplements if you need to. If you ask about all this stuff at a restaurant your friends will all desert you. Just avoid restaurants and eat food you buy yourself so you know what is in it. Dr. Joseph R. Hibbein explains the mental health part in an interview here
A good resource for avoiding the wily omega-6 fat is
WebMD has a good summary on the subject as well
So, you are saying, “Joe, I came for Casey and the roses; you are boring me to tears”.
Just bear with me here. Let’s talk about AGEs and then you can go back to your steak and eggs. AGE stands for advanced glycation end products.
They are basically talking about browning or burning food and changing it into something that tastes great but has health consequences. At the least, this process raises the incidence of heart disease (number one killer in America) ,diabetes and kidney problems.
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/10/1898.full (difficult to read)
Helen Vlassara MD at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine performed her study of AGEs on 350 sick and well people. She put people on low AGE diets and saw improvement in the sick and also the well. She recommends low cooking temperatures and avoiding processed foods. The link is
This is more important the older we get but these AGEs accumulate in our bodies and may reflect some of the reasons Americans are such a unhealthy population. We are the “Inflammation Nation” but we can change. Well, maybe not “we”, but YOU can change. That is the hope here at Thindex.com.
The reason the Thindex diet is designed the way it is, is because fast foods, processed foods, hydrogenated oils, dead bread, white rice, candy, sugary drinks, booze, and deep and pan fried foods have driven us there. You are not going to get better by “cutting back”. The Thindex 9 step program is set up to move you away from foods you grew up on, to a diet and exercise program that can reverse the damage done by eating the wrong foods and not exercising enough and sitting too much. It’s a diet you can live with.