8 Little Known Causes of Inflammation and 2 Supplements That Can Help – Episode #10

Here we are again at the Good Living Doc show. Thanks for showing up, gang. This is episode 10. My name is Dr. Mark Smith. I am the Good Living Doc. GoodLivingDoc.com. You can find all my podcasts on my website, as well as pretty much every major podcast platform. The topic…inflammation. What is it? Why do you have it? And what can you do about it? I also have a couple of supplement recommendations that have been scientifically proven to be effective for people with inflammation and pain. 

As always, as you listen, please remember that I am not your medical doctor, so nothing that I say should be taken as personal medical advice. Never try to treat, diagnose, or cure any symptom or disease in yourself or anyone else based solely on what I say here. And if you decide to change your lifestyle based on anything I say, please do so with the guidance of a trained and licensed health profession. 

Welcome to episode 10. Before I begin, I want to give a shout out to my Uncle Phil. My Uncle Phil is my biggest fan, and I know this because he told me. He called a couple of weeks ago and gave me some great feedback and was really encouraging and had a lot of nice things to say about this show and the information that he’s getting here and I just want to say how much I appreciate everyone’s support for all of you that are listening regularly and passing on my website and sharing this stuff on social media. I have very fond childhood memories of my uncle and aunt. They are amazing, wonderful, special people and Uncle Phil, I love you, and please tell my aunt that I love her, too. And I miss you guys. They live on the east coast and we don’t get to see each other a lot, but I think about you often. 

Some forms of inflammation are pretty common in life and you probably are aware of the kinds of inflammation that result from something like an insect bite or if you twist your ankle and your ankle swells up and it hurts. Those kinds of inflammation are pretty common, the treatment for that is pretty easy. 

But there is another kind of inflammation that happens internally…inside our bodies…and isn’t easily detected. Sometimes you can detect it with bloodwork, but there are many causes of internal inflammation, and inflammation is a causal factor in many different health problems and diseases. And also many different health problems and diseases cause inflammation. So inflammation is at the core of many of our problems as humans when it comes to human health, as well as discomfort and pain. 

We’re going to talk about some not well known sources of inflammation that you might be being subjected to on a daily basis that you don’t know about so that you can make a conscious effort to reduce these kinds of inflammation in your life…or these causes of inflammation in your life…and possibly put yourself in a better position health-wise as a result. 

What is inflammation anyway? Aside from just some swelling you get when you twist an ankle or something like that. 

You know, when you have an infection, the aches…the overall body aches…the joint aches…that’s inflammation.  

Inflammation is not a Mistake

So inflammation is an immune response. It’s something that occurs when there’s damage to our cells, or we have an infection, or we have too much physical or chemical stress in our body. 

Inflammation is a way that the body protects itself and defends itself. Inflammation also protects our joints. If you have too much stress on your shoulders, or your knees, or your spine, inflammation is one of the ways that your spine will protect itself against chronic stressors. 

If you spend your life sitting, or you spend your life bent over, doing office work or you spend your days lifting heavy things, then there’s probably at least some level of inf;ammation in your spine and your joints. 

And also, if you don’t eat a good diet or you’re too sedentary, a lot of times inflammation can result from those things, too. 

Now, the major premise of this show is the body is intelligent and that the human body is a self-healing, self-regulating system. And if that’s the case, then inflammation is not a mistake. It’s an intelligent response by the body that helps protect, defend, and heal the body. 

The disease care segment of our health system…the medical people…view the human body as though it is weak, sick, and stupid. And so to them, inflammation is a mistake. It’s something to be treated. And probably at least every day…or at least every week I should say…maybe not that often…but you know, people tell me when they come in that they’re on anti-inflammatories or they’re on some kind of steroid or something like that to try and reduce inflammation in their bodies because inflammation hurts. 

But unlike the kind of swelling and inflammation that happens if you get bit by an insect or if you twist your ankle, this kind of systemic inflammation that happens within can linger for weeks or even years in some people undetected and negatively affecting our health and we don’t even know about it. 

There are some kinds of outward symptoms if you’ve had chronic inflammation…chronic meaning you’ve had it for a long time or it’s something that’s present all the time. 

If you feel fatigue all the time…never have any energy, if you have trouble sleeping, headaches, brain fog, even some digestive issues like acid reflux and heartburn, skin issues like acne and eczema, and of course pain, joint pain, joint stiffness, muscle pain. If you get frequent infections. If you have digestive problems like bloating, and even some mood disorders like depression and anxiety at least have some kind of link to inflammation. 

And this kind of inflammation can contribute to diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. If you have allergies, if you have breathing problems, if you have digestive problems, then there’s most likely inflammation in your body. 

This is why it’s ultimately so important to identify these sources of inflammation and try and eliminate them.  

8 Little Known Sources of Inflammation

So, I want to give you 8 sources of inflammation that you probably aren’t aware of. 

1. Emotional Stress – Sometimes people say, “What causes this?” and I say STRESS, and they go, “I’m not stressed out.” But stress comes from many different angles. It attacks us from many directions. It’s not just, you know, your boss was yelling at you today, or one of your parents is sick or something like that. 

If you have money stress, if you have relationship stress, social anxiety, school deadlines, work demands, fear, worry…I mean, how many of us don’t live with these things on a daily basis? All of us do. And so there’s always this potential for our bodies to enter into a stress response and our stress response completely upends our hormonal system. And when that happens, our bodies go into a state of protection. Instead of a state of healing and growth, we go into protection, and protection is not a place we want to live. 

Because when we enter into a stress response, just like if someone jumps out of a dark corner and scares you, the body releases stress hormones. You don’t have to have that person jump out and scare you for your body to release stress hormones. You can just have this pile of bills on the table and no money. I mean, that can do it. That can send you over into a stress response. 

Or the fact that you’ve got a coach at your high school that’s constantly on you and pushing you, or your boss is constantly reminding you that such and such needs to be done by a certain date. I mean, if you just worry about your kids and your grandkids, that’s something that’s so prevalent in life, but the body releases stress hormones when we do that…like adrenaline and cortisol…and consistent elevation of these stress hormones causes inflammation and it actually keeps the body from controlling information, so inflammation is allowed to get out of control.

What to do about emotional stress and how we eliminate it is another show entirely. It probably will be a series of shows. I mean, it’s very complex and it’s something that I studied for a long time, and I don’t want to just give you the social media version right now in a couple of lines. We’ll get into it. 

2. Lack of sleep – Lack of sleep also puts people into a stress response and so that releases stress hormones and that can make us have inflammation, just not getting enough sleep. 

And about a third of US adults are sleep deprived, and it’s even more common among teenagers. 

3. Smoking – Anything toxic we put in our bodies causes inflammation because it causes the immune system to have to fight. It causes our bodies to have to try and get us back to a state of homeostasis when we put toxins into our body like cigarette smoke and the chemicals in cigarettes. Or even other inhaled substances. Our bodies have to adapt and have to try and right the ship once these things go in. And that causes stress…makes our bodies come out of this relaxed, balanced state to fight these things that we’re putting into our bodies. 

So that leads to number four…

4. Dietary factors – A lot of processed food causes inflammation. A lot of sugar, a lot of dairy, refined carbohydrates, processed meats like lunch meat, artificial trans fats, vegetable and seed oils, and high fructose corn syrup, all the stuff we find in wrappers, bags, and boxes. These foods from wrappers, bags, and boxes that aren’t natural to the body will cause inflammation because they cause the body to have to fight them. 

Also, a lot of processed food is filled with the omega-6 fatty acids. You hear a lot about omega-3 fatty acids and how we should supplement with them. The real problem is the ratio between omega-6s and the omega-3s that we intake. 

Most of the processed foods are full of omega-6s and most humans don’t get many omega-3s because omega-3s…the foods that are rich in omega-3s are fish like salmon and anchovies and sardines…which a lot of people don’t eat…and game meats…which humans don’t eat any more. We don’t eat a lot of game meat any more. 

And those are the two food sources that are really high in omega-3 fatty acids. And I’m talking about the DHA and EPA omega-3s, not the ones that you find from flax seeds and stuff like that. We’re talking about the animal sources of omega-3s. 

And so when we have lots of omega-6s and not a lot of omega-3s, that causes inflammation. One of the ideas behind taking omega-3s is to try and make that ratio better. 

I take fish oil every day because there are piles and piles of research that talk about how great omega-3s are for the body. Every time your body has to fix a cell or create a cell, it needs omega-3s, so if you’re not getting enough omega-3s, your body is already creating unhealthy cells. It doesn’t have what it needs to make healthy cells unless you have proper amounts of fatty acids in the right ratios. So, fish oil, that’s one of the supplements. I was going to wait until the end, but here you go. .

One of those supplements is fish oil to get your omega-3s. I think every human should take them, because it’s so important. I take them every day. I’m not going to tell you what brand…just get a good brand. I don’t want to plug a company because I don’t want people to think I’m getting paid to talk about it. 

You can’t get a cheap form of omega-3s…okay…unless you’re just going to eat some salmon or some sardines and stuff like that a couple times a week. If you’re doing that then you might be okay. But a lot of people don’t like fish, and fish is expensive. I mean salmon can be expensive.  

Salmon is probably the omega-3 superstar, but it’s expensive. And so to eat it a couple times a week, it’s not financially doable for a lot of people. So supplements are a way to get around that. 

This is something that, if you’re going to get a supplement, get a good one. The most important thing to me is that the product is tested by a third party for purity, so that when they’re done making this stuff, they send it off to an independent third party, and that independent party tests it and says yes, what the company says is in here and it’s a good, quality product. 

If you take a fish oil and you taste fish or you burp fish all day, that indicates usually that the product was spoiled or the filtration system really isn’t very good. So, get a good fish oil

5. Prescription drugs – This is a controversial one. Finding published research that links prescription meds to inflammation and its associated health problems isn’t easy because the pharmaceutical industry isn’t going to study something like that, anyway. 

You only have to watch a few drug commercials to learn the dangerous list of side effects that most of these drugs carry with them. Sometimes I’m amazed that people will take this stuff at all. 

But the truth is prescription medication causes a change in the body that the body is not making on its own. Prescription drugs either speed up things in your body, or they slow things down, or they stop things. And sometimes in doing that, that causes a chain reaction, and that’s why all drugs have side effects. 

Every single drug has a side effect whether you know it or not, or feel it or not. And partially, it’s because some of these chemicals can cause inflammation in the body. 

Now I’m not suggesting that anyone stop taking your prescribed meds. I can’t do that. I’m not your doctor, so don’t stop taking your meds because of what I just said. But you might want to do some research into your meds. 

If you have some strange side effects or you have joint pain, or you have headaches, or something…the first thing when people tell me these things and it seems to come out of nowhere, I ask them what kind of meds they’re on, or if it’s a new symptom, if they’re on any new meds. And we research them and see if those are common side effects of those meds.

And maybe it might be helpful to talk to your physician about some of your treatments if necessary, and how they might be contributing to some of your issues. Because the medical response, when a drug gives you a side effect, is to give you another drug to counteract that side effect. 

I can’t go down that road. I’m going to start getting upset. 

6. Alcohol – There are two ways in which alcohol causes inflammation. First is the way that alcohol damages our cells. The second is in intestinal damage and the destruction of good intestinal microflora.  

And there are studies that show an increase in inflammatory markers in people who drink. The more we drink, the more severe the inflammation will be.

Alcohol can also, for people who drink heavily…which is more than two standard drinks a day for men and one for women, they risk developing leaky gut syndrome that can lead to organ damage.  

A lot of people have a lot of issues disappear when they stop drinking every day, or they stop drinking more than the recommended amount.  

7. Being overweight – Being overweight causes more strain on ligaments, discs, and joints of your body and spine. It’s very common for overweight people to have knee pain and ankle pain…and also lower back pain. But it’s also associated with increased inflammatory markers in bloodwork.  

And, there are plenty of studies that show that people that lose weight decrease their inflammation

8. Sedentary lifestyle – The average adult in the US spends 9-12 hours per day sitting

A lot of our jobs these days are sitting and young people in school, they sit all day. 

I know…where I live in the Midwest, it’s the end of November right now and it’s cold. And people aren’t outside working in their gardens and mowing the grass and hanging out. You know, in the summertime, we move around all the time. In the winter, we don’t. There’s nothing to do. I don’t like winter sports because I don’t like being cold. 

So a lot of us go home in winter time and we sit. For some of us, the only movement we get is our workout, which is what? An hour a day? Then, you know, we sit the rest of the day. 

Inactivity causes nearly every body system to decline. And aside from that, sitting for long periods is really stressful on the spine and other joints of the body, especially the hips and lower back. And the result of that stress on our joints is inflammation. 

Remember inflammation is protective. It’s not a mistake. Sometimes people will have inflammation, you know, they strain their back or something, and they put ice on their back and it feels better, and then later on the inflammation comes back. That’s because the body wants it there. 

The Focus Has to be on Healing Ourselves

This is a very common thread in everything I talk about. The focus isn’t on the condition. The focus can’t be on the condition. That’s how we go down…we go over that cliff…of chasing symptoms and chasing our diseases, and trying to do things in our lifestyle…take supplements, eat a certain diet…in order to treat our diseases.  

But our diseases are already effects of other ways that we’re not living right. And so our goal to rid ourselves of the inflammation has to be to make ourselves healthier. We have to right our lives. 

Now sometimes, if you have a job where you sit all day, you can’t get around that. There’s no way to stop that, but there are ways to counteract that later. So that means when you go home, you have to spend at least some of your time reversing the stress that you put on yourself all day from sitting all day or from being sedentary.  

So if you can’t change the causal factor, if you can’t change the lifestyle factor that’s causing the problem, you have to figure out other things that reverse it. There’s a lot of research connecting prolonged sitting and inflammation. Scientists in some studies have noticed that as sedentary time increases in their lives, the risk of early death also increases.

I see this. I can attest to this. The people who come in here in their 80s, they come to see me and they’re 80 years old and they’re healthy and they’re fit and they’re happy and they’re bright. These people are just so alive in their eyes. When you look at them, they just look alive. And they’re people that move. They’re always moving. 

They bust through my front door like they’re going somewhere. You know what I mean? Like, they don’t have a lot of time. they’re on the move. These are people that are always walking and gardening and traveling. They’re always doing something. It doesn’t mean they don’t spend a weekend binging on some shows. That’s okay, but it can’t be the majority of our lives. And people who sit when they go home and sit for hours and hours and hours, those are the people that I’ve seen in my experience that decline slowly. They just start to decline. 

Movement is life. And the body thrives when physical activity is a part of our lifestyle. 

I want you to understand that battling inflammation requires more than just eating an anti-inflammatory diet or taking some ibuprofen every day. It’s something that…it’s just like everything else…we have to right our entire lives. 

So here’s 8 things that a lot of people need to work on. These things are very, very common. Being overweight is very common. Sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, prescription drugs, not eating a good diet. There’s a lot less people smoking these days but still, when you’re a smoker you know, it’s just something else that you have to work on. And lack of sleep and emotional stress. Almost every single one of us has all of these. 

You know, I tell people who are trying to lose weight, if you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t just think about losing weight for the hour you’re on the treadmill at night. It’s something that has to go into every moment of your day. Every decision that you make has to have this goal in mind. And it’s the same thing with our lives and our bodies and reaching the state of wellness and reversing these sources of inflammation.  

And believe me…inflammation is so prevalent, and it’s such a problem…it’s worth spending your time on…trying to reduce inflammation in your body.

We’ll talk about some things that you can do about these things later. But, I mean, as far as dietary factors…there’s several of my podcasts already talk about these things and physical activity as well. Go back and find some that are about those things. Even though this is just episode 10, there’s already some advice I have in those episodes for righting those things.

Supplement #2 for Reducing Inflammation

We already talked about fish oil. The ratio of omega fatty acids in the body should ideally be about 1 or 2 omega-3s to every 1 omega-6. Unfortunately, with the SAD diet….the Standard American Diet, right? SAD…Standard American Diet…SAD. The SAD diet, which a lot of people are on, consume enough processed food and vegetable oils that the ratio is more like 1 to 20. So that’s why omega-3s are so important. The result is inflammation. 

The second supplement that I want to talk about and I also take every day is turmeric. And I don’t recommend these things unless there is enough scientific support to convince me that it’s important. I take supplements because the science tells me that I should, not because I’m trying to change some kind of symptom in my body. 

The research shows that our bodies need it and thrive on it and so I take it, and if the research isn’t there then it’s just somebody’s opinion. I want to see research, and turmeric has tons of it. 

Now, the compound in turmeric that is known for its anti-inflammatory effects is curcumin. And there are curcumin supplements out there which are extracts so that you can get more curcumin in the supplement because there’s very little curcumin in turmeric. I think it’s like 4% of turmeric is curcumin, so they extract the curcumin in order to put more of it in the supplement. 

I still take turmeric instead because I like to take things in their natural form…because I believe things in their natural form are more compounding better for us and what’s called…these things have a synergistic effect, meaning that all the nutrients in this thing are exponentially more powerful because they are there with everything else that nature made with it. All the micronutrients and all the other things that are there help these nutrients work best. 

I want to take the actual tumeric supplement and you can get turmeric…it’s turmeric root, and it’s ground down into a supplement and then that’s it. That’s all this should be in it, aside from a few things that they make the capsule out of. 

Or you can get turmeric and use it in your cooking. I’ve done this too, where I just put turmeric in things. I put turmeric in my eggs, or on some chicken or whatever, or in a shake, just be aware that turmeric turns everything orange. Okay, it stains everything so you have to be careful here. 

Supplements Don’t Work, Right?

I’m sure you’ve seen in the news…there’s always news about how supplements don’t work, right? Supplements are worthless, you might as well throw your money down the toilet. Fish oil supplements have not shown any benefit to heart disease people and on and on. But there’s a couple reasons for this.

Number one…if you’re trying to test a supplement on how it affects a disease, that’s the wrong research. You’re asking the wrong questions already. Because supplements aren’t a treatment for disease. Supplements are nutrition. If you don’t have a deficiency, you don’t need it…or if it’s just something that’s incredibly nutritious and you want to put in your body and then you can take that, too. 

But if you’re trying to see how fish oil affects heart disease patients, and then people are like…oh jeez this didn’t save them from having heart disease so it doesn’t work. That’s bad science. 

The question is…are humans deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and the answer is yes, and does an omega-3 fatty acid supplement increase the function of the cells in the human body? And the answer is yes, so we need it! Everything else doesn’t matter. If you’re taking some form of omega-3s to treat your joint pain and your joint pain goes away, take it anyway…because it’s good for you. Just because it didn’t do the thing that you were trying to treat yourself for does not mean that this supplement is useless. It simply means that your body’s using it for something other than what you intended it for. 

That’s the thing that supplements do. Supplements don’t work like drugs. A drug is chemically designed to get into your body and force its will on you. That drug…that anti-inflammatory drug will get into your body and force your body to reduce inflammation. That’s what it’s designed for. 

Nutrition doesn’t do that. When you put nutrition in your body, your body uses that nutrition for what it needs it for…and it may not be what you need it for, or what you’re taking it for.  

So, these two supplements have been really, really shown to be effective against inflammation and pain caused by inflammation, but I don’t have pain caused by inflammation, but I take these things every day anyway, because they are so, so good for me. These are two things that I can say with confidence that people should be taking. Whether or not it shows the difference in you or not. 

And also just like drugs…you know you take a drug and you feel different in 20 minutes. When you take these supplements, you might not notice a difference. That doesn’t mean it’s not doing anything. It might be helping you in other ways. It might be bringing you closer to wellness instead of treating your problems. 

So, these things have been shown to help with pain, but I think that people should take them anyway. Try it. See if it helps you with your pain, but if it doesn’t, keep taking it anyway. That’s my advice, anyway.  

I can go on and on and on about this stuff. Sometimes I look into a patient’s eyes and I can see that glossed over look and I can see it’s time for me to shut up, and I feel like that’s the time it is right now. I feel like I should shut up right now. So I’m going to stop there. 

I wanted to do the tip of the day but I’m gonna let those two supplements be my tip of the day because we’re running kind of long here and I want to shut it down. 

Thanks for showing up, gang. I really appreciate the people that continue to listen and continue to share my stuff. My name is Dr. Mark Smith. I am the Good Living Doc. GoodLivingDoc.com. Don’t forget on my website…all my podcasts are on my website and there are transcripts on the website as well of each episode in case you would rather read these instead of listen. 

A lot of information in this one, you might want to go back and listen to it again and we’re going to be talking about these eight not well-known sources of inflammation and what we can do about them. We’re going to be covering a lot of ground about a lot of different things, so come on back. Until next time, gang…take care.

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