Inflammation – Causes, Anti-Inflammatory Diets, Carnivore, Cholesterol, And More | The Hart of Health Podcast S1 E7

Portion control toy picture for inflammation podcast

Joané and Jonathan: (00:02)
Hi, I’m Joané Hart, and I am Jonathan Hart. This is The Hart of Health. A show where we focus mainly on health and self-optimization. Here, we like to talk about our experiences and knowledge when it comes to health and biohacking. We hope you enjoy the show.

Jonathan: (00:02)
On today’s episode, we are talking about inflammation. I don’t think a lot of people understand exactly what inflammation is, but they just know that it’s bad.

Joané: (00:49)
Yeah, it sucks. I’m dealing with quite a bit of inflammation, but yeah, maybe you can start by telling us: what is inflammation?

Jonathan: (00:59)
Yeah, so inflammation is definitely a very good example of a double-edged sword. Well, yeah, it is pretty much the body’s sword to fight against fungus and bacteria and viruses. So you can’t say that inflammation is all bad because inflammation is triggered when your body is fighting the flu or a bacterial infection. So, you can’t just label it as bad, but it’s just when it gets out of hand that it gets associated with the typical inflammation that everyone knows

Joané: (01:37)
Where the body starts attacking itself.

Jonathan: (01:40)
Yes. And when you’re chronically inflamed, that’s when you notice that it can be very detrimental to your health.

Joané: (01:53)
Yeah. Well, I’ve noticed most people don’t think about inflammation or that they have inflammation unless they have an injury or if they have a condition that’s associated with inflammation like arthritis. Even PCOS is associated with inflammation. But most people, I think, are dealing with some inflammation, whether they know about it or not. So what causes inflammation?

Jonathan: (02:27)
A lot of things cause inflammation, like you said, for someone to be experiencing no inflammation, I don’t even know how that would be possible, because even just exercising causes inflammation.

Joané: (02:43)
Because of the hermetic stress, the stress that puts on your body? (Yes.) And yeah, don’t your muscle fibres tear a little bit with new exercise and then you get a bit of inflammation, and then that is what helps you recover from it?

Jonathan: (02:59)
They can, depending on what kind of exercise you’re doing. Very light exercise normally doesn’t result in micro muscle tears. But yeah, if you do a workload your body is not accustomed to, you can get DOMS, which is delayed onset muscle soreness. And that’s what everyone knows, where not even after exercise, you are stiff, but it is stiff the next day. And then the second day after exercise, you are even more stiff. Getting sick can cause inflammation. But I think the one we’re going to be focussing the most on today is foods that cause inflammation. Because like you said, most people don’t even know that they have got inflammation and a lot of it comes from what you are eating.

Joané: (03:51)
If you’re eating a lot of sugar and processed foods, let me tell you, you’re inflamed.

Jonathan: (03:57)
You are probably chronically inflamed. And the other one that I like to mention is if you’re on some sort of chronic medication or anti-inflammatory type medication, you think: “Oh, you know, okay, I’m taking an anti-inflammatory to fight my inflammation.” But what it also ends up doing is damaging your gut lining, which can lead to more inflammation in the future.

Joané: (04:26)
Yes. Because if your gut lining is damaged and it becomes permeable, then food particles and proteins and things will get into your bloodstream and trigger inflammation. So things leak into your bloodstream that really do not belong there. And a lot of people notice that when they spend some time focussing on healing their gut lining and improving their gut health and also cutting out foods that are known to cause inflammation, it improves. And then when they add certain foods back in, they can actually tolerate them once again because now the gut lining is healed and they’re not causing a lot of problems. So, sometimes you think: “Oh, I can never eat this food again.” But if you give it a month or a few months, then you might actually be able to have it. Not necessarily in large amounts, but you don’t necessarily have to cut out dairy for the rest of your life. I noticed that, I cut out dairy for a while and went on a low-carb diet, did quite a few things aimed at promoting gut health. I also really love bone broth and having gelatin in my diet, then I could actually start eating bits of cheese again and fermented dairy like yoghurt, without noticing any negative effects from it. So, I definitely think that my gut lining is a lot better than it used to be.

Jonathan: (06:03)
Yeah. Because the majority of your immune system is stationed in and around your digestive system. It’s almost like it knows that that’s sort of the point of entry for most foreign contaminants. And yeah, when you take things like ibuprofen, which some people describe as like a hand grenade for your gut lining, and also gluten and those kinds of plants. Inflammatory molecules can actually disrupt your gut lining and allow your gut to be more permeable than it should be. And then even just basic food, proteins can trigger your immune system, which will start the whole inflammatory process and that can sort of come up as symptoms. In all sorts of parts of the body that you wouldn’t have expected are actually linked to your gut and the inflammation starting there in the digestive system.

Joané: (07:08)
Yes. It all starts in the gut.

Jonathan: (07:11)
Yeah. And that’s why I think it is very good to at least time restrict eat. Like time-restricted eat because another problem in the modern era is that people are eating too often and it never really gives a chance for your digestive system to get a break and recuperate. It’s almost like your gut is over-trained. You’re not giving it a break.

Joané: (07:36)
And a lot of people have IBS, irritable bowel disease; where it’s basically gut inflammation. You will eat and then you’ll get stomach cramps, depending on what you eat obviously, but a lot of people struggle with it and then they have to take all sorts of digestive aids and things like that. If you start to figure out what foods are causing you to get that gut inflammation, and sometimes you can tell, you know, I know you get metaflammation where if you eat way too much at once, then it also causes inflammation and it puts a lot of stress on your gut. But, I think a lot of people can really notice when they have inflammation in their guts and then you can start to figure out what is causing that inflammation and cut that up. Imagine a world where you don’t have stomach pains, where you’re not that bloated, where you are not super gassy or you just feel a lot better.

Jonathan: (08:51)
Yeah, I mean that’s an example of the inflammation being directly in your gut. And so, for that person with IBS, it’s very obvious that it’s your gut that’s inflamed at that point. And I feel like where it becomes trickier is when… I wonder if that’s actually a word? Trickier? Cool. So, it becomes a situation where something triggering inflammation in your gut can cause problems elsewhere. Like your joints can become more achy or stiff because of something that is happening in your gut. So then you think: “Oh my joints are inflamed just out of nowhere.” They’re like: “Oh, I just have inflamed joints.” And you don’t ever look at what you’re eating to try and fix those things. So yes, it’s not always originating in the gut, but most of the time, inflammation originates in the gut. So, If you have any kind of inflammation anywhere in your body, it is worth having a look at what you’re eating to try and reduce that chronic inflammation.

Joané: (10:02)
Yeah. Well, can I tell you my experience this morning? I was journaling and I was writing down: what are the most important things I need to focus on to improve my health, to improve my skin, and to help me lose fat. Things like that. And reducing inflammation occurred in all of those things. And because I realised; and reducing metaflamation, like I said, eating too much, cause you know how many times a week I feel like really bloated and overfull because I do eat too much. And then I also drink a lot of water with my meals, which I think I should reduce. I wrote down reduce metaflammation, because I realised that I’ll eat too much, and usually when I do have more digestive distress because I ate too much or ate the wrong things, then a day later, two days later my skin will break out. So usually, the times when my skin is the worst is also usually the times when my digestive system really is letting me down, you know?

Jonathan: (11:15)
Or your disease digestive system down. I feel like it’s trying its best.

Joané: (11:22)
I give it a hard time because I realised I’ve overeaten so many times in my life and I’ve also struggled to clear my skin. And then I realised it was because my gut was inflamed so many times in my life and it was almost impossible to, it’ll be impossible to clear my skin if I don’t take care of the inflammation elsewhere in my body, and I really started thinking about this and someone said that if you do have skin problems, it’s a sign that there’s a problem somewhere else in your body. And I mean, acne is an inflammatory condition. You also get other inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, even eczema. Brain inflammation is an interesting subject because they now believe a lot of people now believe that, mental health problems like depression and anxiety start with brain inflammation and not necessarily an imbalance in chemicals. When people go on an anti-inflammatory diet like the carnivore diet; because I think that’s the most drastic diet to switch to for inflammation, then their moods improved. I mean, we watched a video the other day where this woman had bipolar disorder and ms and she improved her symptoms so much. She started working again, but her mental health improved so much; that she didn’t, I don’t know if she was still taking medication.

Jonathan: (13:06)
No, she was on lithium and another medication or I can’t remember, but she stopped all medication entirely after one year of carnivore. Yeah, that’s a good example of autoimmunity because that’s also quite a hot topic nowadays. A lot of people are suffering from autoimmunity and that’s actually where your body’s immune system, which let me say is ridiculously complicated. Like if you think you have a grasp of the immune system, hats off to you because it is a very complicated and intricate system that I think is super difficult to understand as a normal person unless this is your major field of study. So, I don’t think a lot of people even understand why, like in the case of ms, your own immune system ends up attacking the myelin sheath of your nerves. And so, like in that lady, she was getting to a point where she had to get pushed around in a wheelchair and you know, because she had very little control of her movement and her speech and she struggled to think and all these things (and I feel that a lot of autoimmunity is triggered by the diet) and so, by giving the carnivore diet a try, she managed to basically suppress her immune system.

Joané: (14:36)
Isn’t her YouTube channel called like the “Center of Brilliance” or something like that? Yes. Cool, I’m glad I remembered.

Jonathan: (14:44)
Yeah. She’s got a very crazy story. But I mean even Mickaila Peterson, she’s the most famous one. She had an autoimmune disease where she had rheumatoid arthritis and her own immune system, so nothing foreign. It was her own immune system that was basically degenerating her joints to the point where she had to have joint replacements and it was going onto a carnivore diet that basically halted the progress of that autoimmune disease. And now, she’s a perfectly functioning human being with a child and a job and no more mood disorders or depression.

Joané: (15:29)
Yeah, well, arthritis runs in my family and I’ve seen a lot of family members really struggle with that. So, and I mean that is all from inflammation as well and everyone is just taking anti-inflammatories. But yeah, we’ll see. But one thing that a lot of people who have arthritis, well a lot of autoimmune conditions notice is when they cut out grains, sugar and grains seem to be the common things that when people cut them out and gluten it reduces inflammation. Soy is also common and trans fats. You do not want hydrogenated vegetable oils because that can cause inflammation in the body. But grains is a big one. I think a low-carb diet or ketogenic diet helps a lot of people to reduce inflammation, which is also why I want to go full keto again because usually, I do ketogenic cycling. So I’ll do keto for a few weeks and then I’ll add more carbs in for a little bit and then go back to keto. But because I’ve been frustrated because of the inflammation in my body, I want to go keto again, but this time, it’s going to be even better because it’s going to be an even more strict keto because I won’t have as many nuts. Because I think they give me gut inflammation. I struggle to digest them and not as many oxalate-rich foods.

Jonathan: (17:14)
Yeah. That’s just two examples of foods that could trigger inflammation or autoimmunity, depending on your thinking. But like you said, it’s almost, it is like a spectrum. So, even just cutting out grains and sugar as a first step is already probably going to bring improvements, but it obviously will be very individual. So, if you have a very severe autoimmune disease, you might need to go as extreme as carnivore for all your symptoms to abate. Whereas if you just have mild symptoms of inflammation, then maybe you can get away with just doing like a Whole 30 and just figuring out specifically what is affecting you badly, like oxalates or lectins or whatever it may be, chances are, it’s not the meat that’s making you react.

Joané: (18:15)
Some people struggle with eggs, but I heard that Paul Saladino say that he struggled with the albumin in egg whites and then I never thought about separating them. And, I think I’m fine with egg whites, but the egg yolk is way more nutritious anyway. That’s fine. One thing that people should also try if they do struggle with inflammation is intermittent fasting, because even if you do not want to go as strict with your diet, you know, and go on the carnivore diet, if you just switched to a diet that’s low in inflammatory foods and then you add intermittent fasting to that, that can reduce inflammation a lot. And I’m not exactly sure why, but I know that if you have a lot of inflammation, it can make losing fat a lot harder.

Jonathan: (19:20)
It’s because your body’s basically in a position of fighting off something and it’s not really focussed on using fat as an energy source. The funny thing is I heard that your LDL cholesterol increases when you get sick, and so, a lot of people think that cholesterol is a bad thing. It’s actually probably part of your body’s way of fighting off infections and stuff like that. So, that might be a reason why when you’re inflamed. It’s much harder for you to get into a fat-burning state.

Joané: (20:04)
Yeah, that makes sense. So wait, you not having enough cholesterol probably means, does that mean that your immune system is not that great? If you don’t have enough?

Jonathan: (20:17)
It means that you could end up succumbing to an infection later on in life, when your immune system is not as strong because it seems like LDL plays a pretty crucial part, especially later on in life when it comes to fighting off infections. So yeah, if you want to check out the work of Dave Feldman, he’s written a book called: The Cholesterol Code. Very interesting information coming out from him and he’s seen a lot of centenarians have high cholesterol. And so, most people will think like what I thought cholesterol supposed to mean you die young and it’s like maybe high cholesterol is not a good thing when you’re young, but when you’re older, it seems to be linked, not causal of being able to live longer. And the theory goes that because a lot of people who die when they’re older normally die because of a simple infection like pneumonia or something that actually is the normal cause of death, um, can be fought off for longer. And that’s why you can live for longer.

Joané: (21:34)
Well, I’m just thinking this is just… I’m wondering if this is the reason you used to get sick often and quite often. And then you switched to a more low-carb lifestyle, more ketogenic lifestyle. You started eating a lot more fat in your diet. So you started getting a lot more cholesterol in your diet and you naturally had very low cholesterol levels when you had them tested. And I’m wondering if adding more cholesterol to your diet didn’t help you because there were years that you didn’t get sick. I think three years. (Yes.) And then the only time you got sick was after your bachelor’s party. And that wasn’t sick. That was alcohol poisoning.

Jonathan: (22:23)
Yeah, that was alcohol inflaming my gut lining.

Joané: (22:27)
Yeah, that was rough. But you didn’t get sick until you switched to a low-fat, high-carb vegan diet for your February vegan experiment that you did. And now, I’m wondering, because they always say to people that if you want to lower your cholesterol, you should have more fibre in your diet and reduce your saturated fat intake. And that’s what you did. And guess what happened? You got sick (for the first time in three years.) For the first time in three years. And I’m really wondering if the cholesterol, (that makes a lot of sense.) Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking now. It’s okay. We’ve been fattening you up. We’ve been… You… You’re quite carnivore now.

Jonathan: (23:10)
Yeah. But I am giving this month as a break from any kind of strict diet challenges. But yeah, I think that actually probably makes a lot of sense. Because most of my life I was high-carb, low-fat, just by default. And I used to get sick at least three times a year. There was one year that I got sick like six times in the same year. It was bad. And then as soon as I, basically, from the time that I started cutting out sugar and intermittent fasting, I haven’t gotten the flu. And it could be that I increased my cholesterol levels and that might’ve had a protective effect against infection. And if you’re out there thinking: “Oh, but now you’re going to pay for it with a heart attack.” I do not think that is the case. Once again, David Feldman, he said he hadn’t been sick for four years. He hasn’t been sick for four years since switching to a ketogenic diet and increasing his LDL cholesterol. I think that heart disease is actually more linked to inflammation that causes endothelial dysfunction. So, it’s almost like you need the damage done to your endothelial in your heart before you can get a heart attack.

Joané: (24:34)
Isn’t the cholesterol a response to the inflammation? Like there wouldn’t be cholesterol if there wasn’t inflammation?

Jonathan: (24:43)
Yes, exactly. So if there wasn’t the damage done, there wouldn’t be a way for your LDL cholesterol to go into the arterial lining. It would just go past as it does normally. I like the analogy of people saying: “Oh, your cholesterol is the cause of heart disease” is like blaming the ambulance for all car accidents.

Joané: (25:07)
I love that. Yeah.

Jonathan: (25:09)
Because there’s an ambulance at every car accident, but it doesn’t mean that the ambulance caused the car accident. They are there to try and clean up the situation and they are trying to fix the problem. And then yes. If you have a lot of arterial damage and a lot of cholesterol, they can get clogged up. But what do you want to do? Stop the ambulance or stop the car accident? You want to stop the car accident. So, you want to prevent the damage to your endothelial and not stop the ambulance.

Joané: (25:38)
That’s often caused by sugar.

Jonathan: (25:41)
Sugar is definitely one of the culprits. But from listening to Paul Saladino, it looks like insulin resistance seems to be one of the biggest factors when it comes to endothelial damage and dysfunction. So yeah. I think there’s still a lot more to be said about information, but I hope we’ve been able to…

Joané: (26:08)
Cold shock therapy reduces inflammation! Okay now I feel like I’ve said everything.

Jonathan: (26:15)
But yeah, hopefully, we’ve been able to give you a basic insight into what inflammation is and possible ways to cure it. Like you said, cold shock, that’s a non-diet intervention that can probably help you a lot with it. I think even if you can just try like a Whole 30 as a first step.

Joané: (26:36)
The Whole 30 is pretty cool. It’s not too difficult and the recipe pictures on Pinterest always look nice. You can try that.

Jonathan: (26:47)
If you yourself are suffering with a very severe autoimmune disease, Carnivore would be my recommendation.

Joané: (26:54)
There is also the Autoimmune Paleo diet that I think Robb Wolf puts together.

Jonathan: (27:00)
Yeah. That’s sort of like another one of those steps on the way to the ultra-strict carnivore diet.

Joané: (27:06)
Yeah. Okay, we hope you have a good day, good week, good year further, and….

Jonathan: (27:13)
hope you enjoyed listening to the podcast. Yeah.

Joané: (27:15)
And that you’re not too inflamed.