"It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage."Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark
Science continues to shed new light on how nutrition has a huge effect on the status of our health. In particular, medicine is zeroing in inflammation as key factor in the aging process – that, over time, diet-caused inflammation wears down our internal systems, resulting in impaired performance (e.g., leaky gut, weight gain) and disease (e.g., Diabetes, heart disease).
This week, Chris speaks with Dr. David Seaman, Professor of Clinical Sciences at the National University of Health Sciences, one of the leading experts on clinical nutrition for pain and inflammation. They discuss inflammation, what causes it, the damage it does to our bodies, and the dietary changes we can make to reduce our exposure to it. This exploration is heavy on the science, but still very accessible to the interested layman:
Inflammation related to diet is a very, very subtle process. So for example, just waking up in the morning, going over to the coffee shop, and having a donut that actually leads to low-grade inflammation after you eat, but you just do not feel it. It is a very distinct process.
The problem with dietary inflammation is it basically builds up on us over time. And then out of the blue, we can be diagnosed with any number of possible diseases and you can think, I wonder what caused this. And it was the last 10 – 30 years, depending upon how aggressive one was in their pursuit of the disease. I call it 'pursuing disease' with dietary inflammation.
Depending upon how aggressive one is, it can appear that the cause/effect relationship is lost because compared to a sprained ankle or a bee sting you do not do a 'drive-by self-shooting', as I call it. It is not like you eat fast food at a restaurant and all of a sudden feel aches and pains everywhere. It takes time to progress. So you have the acute inflammation with an injury that is very obvious. Then you have the more subtle low-grade inflammation that you cannot even feel initially. But they are generally the same. It is just that with an acute scenario, there is actual tissue injury and it is much more robust, more overt versus subtle.
So for the chronic inflammation example, you go and do a 'drive-by self-shooting' or you stop at a coffee shop and have whatever you are going to have: a bagel, a cup of coffee or tea, or you'll even have a donut. But that will cause, after you eat it, a postprandial, (postprandial means "after we eat it"); you will get a surge of blood sugar because you just consumed a refined carbohydrate. That surge of blood sugar is going to get dumped into a muscle. And that will take place as a consequence of insulin being released. That surge of blood sugar it is typically not normal for us to experience, based upon our genetic disposition in terms of food sources. So you will have rapid movement of the blood sugar into immune cells, for example. And when the immune cells get hit with this high blood sugar surge, they generate free radicals. And these free radicals lead to the production by the immune cell by inflammatory chemistry. So there is an immediate, a postprandial, post-eating inflammatory response to hyperglycemia. It is subtle dietary trauma versus overt physical trauma.
Of great value in this interview is the identification of the worst dietary offenders (refined sugars, flours, Omega-6 and trans fats) and the strategies we can use in our eating to keep inflammation at bay.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with David Seaman (40m:35s):