Inflammation Friend or Foe?

Inflammation is your body’s protection mechanism to fight disease, infection and invasion. You may remember hearing that heat, pain, redness and swelling as being the cardinal signs of inflammation. It’s only when it becomes chronic that it is a problem. Acute inflammation from infection gone out of control may need antibiotics.

There are several ways you can get into the chronic inflammation box: trauma, infection, leaky gut, poor diet, stress, age, toxins.  Inflammation is your body‘s way of trying to protect you. It’s deploying your white cells to an area it thinks is in danger. However often it backfires because white cells release cytokines which attract more white cells and end up damaging your tissues. For instance a heart attack is when a plaque in your arteries explodes from inflammation. Most people think coronary heart disease is an occlusive problem when it is the inflammatory aspect that makes it most dangerous. Arthritis is caused by inflammation in your joints. Leaky gut is caused by inflammation in your bowel.

Let’s consider leaky gut as it is the root cause for so many diseases and problems in the body.  What is astounding is when I was a young doctor and interested in the microbiome and leaky gut, I was told all organisms that weren’t pathogens in the gut were commensal or OK. And that leaky gut was not a real thing. I didn’t buy into that and now it is common knowledge how crucial the microbiome is and that leaky gut is the root cause of many disease states. Every bad disease you don’t want to get is associated with leaky gut. There are 100 trillion intestinal bacteria in the human microbiome involved in countless functions that have profound effect on health risk factors for disease, longevity, mood and even weight.  Leaky gut is associated with all kind of inflammatory diseases like arthritis, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, depression, weight gain, anxiety, autism, type 2 diabetes an Alzheimer’s disease.

The best thing we can do for our health is take care of those little bacteria inside of us. The most profound factor in healthy gut bacteria is good food. Sugar (either overt or refined carbohydrates) favors growth of bacteria that extract more calories from food and contribute to obesity. Aspartame turns out to be worse than sugar for gut bacteria favoring the growth of “fat bugs” and increased obesity risk. Remember when we thought we were doing something healthy by choosing diet drinks over sugary ones? Neither help the gut bacteria.
The secret is to take good care of those bacteria that are inside of us as we have a symbiotic relationship with them. We need to rebuild and maintain a healthy population of gut bacteria. First by eating fermented foods rich in healthy probiotic bacteria and taking a good maintenance probiotic from a trusted source. For example, Randall Wellness has Symbiotic pro which was designed around what organisms are known to be good for the healthy gut environment. Fermented foods include: kimchi, yogurt with live cultures, kefir, sauerkraut and pickles with live cultures. Second is to eat prebiotic fiber. Our ancestors are said to have consumed 135 g of prebiotic fiber per day as opposed to the standard American consumption of 5 g per day. Prebiotic fiber is poorly digested fiber that travels through the digestive system and acts as food for the microbiome. Good sources are chicory root, jicama, yam, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, flax, onions, garlic, asparagus, blueberries.

Inflammation is the common denominator of chronic disease primarily a direct result of poor nutrition. It is almost criminal that 75% of our health care dollars go to chronic disease secondary to poor nutrition in a country with the best and most abundant food on the planet. So, this high rate of disease is not from lack of food but rather poor choices. 46% of adults are under nourished because of the Standard American Diet - aka the SAD diet, and 56% of children are undernourished. Ironically with this backdrop of poor nutrition, 36.5 % of adults are obese and 32.5% are overweight making 2/3 of the adult population overweight or obese AND under nourished. This state of affairs is making our population more at risk for other diseases: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and infections (listed as the most common diseases in the US) . Of note, most of the people needing hospitalization for COVID 19 were obese or over weight emphasizing the deleterious effect poor nutrition and obesity has on the immune system.

The good news is that with education, dietary and lifestyle changes all of this is reversible.  Inflammatory foods need to be avoided.  As seductive and attractive as drive-thrus and sugary foods are, there are just as accessible healthy foods around the corner. Plan for the future. Live well and longer with quality. Make good choices and avoid inflammatory foods:
  1. Refined carbs - sugar, white flour crackers, cookies, pasta, bread. Causes gut inflammation, leaky gut and ultimately Increased risk of inflammatory diseases by negatively shifting gut microbiota. Instead consume at least 5 servings of complex carbohydrates (1 serving is 1 cup uncooked) Plant based foods are complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, colored rice, quinoa and gluten free whole grains. Non-organic grains contain glyphosates from herbicides which cause inflammation.
  2. The lack of good organic vegetables and leafy greens with fiber can lead to less optimal gut bacteria - dysbiosis and subsequent inflammation. Fiber provides home and food supply for good bacteria.
  3. Vegetable oils that are refined with hexane are inflammatory. Use cold pressed olive, coconut and avocado oil. Palm oil is endangering rainforest and orangutan habitat.
  4. Milk products from cows have a lot of casein which causes inflammation. Especially nonorganic in cows raised with chemicals and antibiotics. Also dairy products have literal white cells (pus) thus inflammatory chemicals. Use nut, oat and rice milks.
  5. Trans fats increase inflammation which can be measured by increased inflammatory markers IL6, TNF alpha. These can still be found in many foods as a preservative such as biscuits, pizza crusts and cookies. These are not good foods for your gut and it emphasizes the need to read your ingredients. 
  6. Refined fructose in many sugary drinks and juices. Damages endothelium of vessels, roughens the surface and increases the likelihood of plaque formation and decreases the function of the endothelium (lining of blood vessels key for smooth blood flow and integrity of vasculature. Eat fruit don't drink it. The fiber bits in whole fruit make it a slower carb and are protective against sugar spikes. Fructose has been blamed for large portion on obesity crisis.
  7. Conventional (non-organic) meats especially smoked increases AGES advanced glycation end products can lead to heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, in addition to causing diabetes. Meats, especially industrially raised come with their own cytokines and cause and attract more inflammation in the human body.
The following foods and supplements will help fight inflammation and chronic disease:

Turmeric: Rich in curcumin, which is a very powerful antioxidant. It works well as an anti-oxidant and suppresses inflammation.  My favorite supplement for inflammation is a curcumin that is water soluble or fat soluble (Randall Wellness) and results in the highest levels of free curcuminoids in the bloodstream that can get to the actual location of the inflammation. The problem with turmeric from the root is that most of it stays in the gut. That can be a good thing if there’s inflammation in your gut but if you’re trying to get to cancer, heart disease, arthritis or autoimmune disease you want that curcumin in the bloodstream.

Another major pillar for treating inflammation is fish oil. Randall Wellness fish oil is bio sustainable I’m very big on that since our oceans are over fished. I know they are biosustainable (because sometime they say they are and it is not true) because they have their own boats and clearly do not do the egregious open water fishing that is ruining our oceans.  Fish oil reduces prostaglandin type 2 which interrupts the inflammatory pathway. 

SPM made by Metagenics or Specialized pro-resolving mediators. Comes from fish oil but is active in the resolving phase of inflammation whereas fish oil reduces prostaglandin type two in the acute phase. I love this cellular messaging mechanism which mobilizes your special forces known as macrophages. These cells go straight to where the inflammation is occurring. Once there they gobble up the dead and dying white cells which are releasing the cytokines to attract more inflammatory cells to the area. This is taking the white cells and cytokines out of the equation and helping to resolve the inflammation.

Sea Vegetables: Nore, Hijaiki, Wakame, Arame and Kombu are several sea vegetables that are rich in magnesium, calcium and iodine. It's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds can be effective in lowering colon cancer risk.
Resveratrol: It is a phenolic compound that contributes to the antioxidant property of grapes. It is an antimutagen that inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 (CoX-2) which has shown to reduce inflammation and cancerous growths.

Chorella and Spirulina: South Korean research indicates that carotenoids from chlorella are effective in preventing reducing inflammation and preventing cancer. Spirulina, is rich in Vitamin B, E and K and has significant immunity boosting properties.

Green Tea: It contains epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG), a catechin that blocks tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF).
Cruciferous Vegetables contain sulforaphane the active ingredient that reduces inflammation.  Good choices are: Arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and turnips are rich in Vitamin C, E, K, and folate. These can prevent DNA damage and induce cell death in carcinogens.

7. Tomatoes are a rich source of carotenoids, particularly lycopene. Raw tomato juice consumed for a month has proven to reduce 30% of TNF production.

8. Mushrooms: Contains compounds such as schizophyllan, active hexose correlated compound (AHCC), maitake D-fraction and Coriolus versicolor that together prevent any mutagen or radiation induced activity. I prefer Paul Stamets Host Defense My Community for maximum intelligence from mushrooms for immune defense and regulation.

9. Garlic: Contains allicin, which is a powerful antioxidant. Fresh garlic is the best bet as other processed variants like the oil and powder contain fractured amounts of allicin.
10. Hemp Oil: Promotes melatonin supply and full body healing. It is also a rich source of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 acids.

Fight inflammation live higher quality lives longer eat more plants, avoid junk food and inflammatory foods.  Eat organic.

What is good for you is good for the planet!
-Dr Randall


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Dr Emeran Mayer, Distinguished Professor UCLA, Author NY Times Best Seller Mind Gut Connection and new book The Gut-Immune Connection. Here is what he said about Dr Gayle Randall and Soul Doctoring, Heal Yourself Heal the Planet in the Forward for the Book.

When I first met Gayle in 1985, both of us were part of the Integrated UCLA VA Training program - she as a GI fellow starting her career as a gastroenterologist, and I as a junior faculty member who had just finished my specialty training in the same program.  Little did we know at that point how our career paths would become intertwined and heading in a similar direction.  In contrast to most of our colleagues at the time, we shared interests outside of mainstream medicine and gastroenterology, had interacted with indigenous healers, and our approach to patients was based on a holistic concept of mind, body and the world, guided by compassion and empathy.  Whereas such views of health and disease are becoming accepted by a growing number of physicians in what is now called Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine, our views of health and disease were definitely out of the mainstream in a premier academic institution as UCLA in the mid 80s. That special role didn’t keep us from organizing several interdisciplinary workshops at UCLA where we put together a panel of medical experts with indigenous and traditional healers  providing their assessment of patient with complex chronic diseases. While many of our colleagues considered this an incomprehensible deviation from our academic and clinical mission as gastroenterologists, we kept pursuing this path, wrote a script for a documentary called The Healing Connection, and organized a 3 day interdisciplinary symposium in Sedona, AZ entitled The Biological Basis of Mind Body Interactions 1
Gayle has taken this early interest in a holistic approach to health and chronic disease and transformed it into an amazing career long journey of integrating the best sides of Western medicine with a range of non-traditional approaches.  Along the way she has accumulated a vast experience as a gastroenterologist at an academic institution, intuitive healer, diet and nutrition expert, founder and director of health and wellness spas and integrative healing institutes and practitioner of integrative and functional medicine at different locations in Southern California. Her book Soul Doctoring documents the unique path she has taken and delivers in an easily understandable and entertaining way the many facets of her holistic approach to patients and the world.
Much emphasis of the book is given to such areas not taught in Medical School and almost universally neglected in medical practice, including trust, love, attitude, intuition, purpose, compassion and worship.  These topics refer to the emotional and spiritual dimensions of health, wellness and healing, which had been separated from medicine ever since Rene Descartes decided that these aspects should be addressed by the Church, and not by science.  While these dimensions of health, wellness and disease have been essential elements of traditional healing practices amongst indigenous people, and amongst traditional Eastern and European medical systems, the West has only recently rediscovered and acknowledged the importance of these factors.  In addition, a growing body of science  has identified the biological mechanisms underlying these forgotten underpinnings of health and wellness.
Perhaps not surprising that as a gastroenterologist, Gayle also covers the topics of the emerging concept of gut health and brain gut interactions, and emphasizes the importance of diet2.   However, what is surprising is the fact that in our training as gastroenterologists, we never received any formal training in nutrition or diet.  Transcending this big gap in our medical  training, Gayle has developed extensive experience on her own in this important area and views food as medicine, and uses specific nutritional recommendations related to individualized diets and supplement in her treatment plans.  Demonstrating her truly holistic view of health and wellness, for Gayle the implications of a healthy diet don’t stop at our own health.  She acknowledges the intricate relationship between the health of our gut and body, the food that we eat, the soil in which we grow our food and the health of the environment.   Holistic health cannot stop selfishly at our own bodies, but has to incorporate the health of all life forms on the planet.
  Rather than viewing the mind and emotions as  simple functions of the individual brain, Gayle emphasizes that mind connects not only brain and body, but that it also connects us with the world and all the people around us.  The bidirectional interactions between brain, body and the world around us through our mind provide the theoretical framework for holistic medicine, and recent science supports the crucial importance of these connections for our health. These interacting elements contain our “carbon”-based biological systems, as well as our spiritual dimensions which go beyond the individual self 3. While Western Medicine continues to focus almost exclusively on a reductionist view and treatment of the body when it fails, integrative and functional medicine have gone an important step forward by recognizing body and brain as a complex system of interacting parts.  Disturbances in these interactions can be diagnosed early before an actual disease becomes manifest, and multidisciplinary treatment approaches are targeted at reestablishing balance within the system.
Gayle has been able to present all these aspects in a semi autobiographic and exciting way  and weave them into a truly holistic manifesto.  I am not aware of another book that has been able to accomplish this task as well as Soul Doctoring.  Going through the 24 chapters of the book is not only a journey through Gayle’s own life, full of fascinating personal and patient anecdotes, but a comprehensive education of the interested reader about the many dimensions of holistic health and wellness from gut to brain health, and from dreams to planetary health. 
  1.  The Biological Basis for Mind Body Interactions, EA Mayer and CB Saper (eds), Progress in Brain Research, Vol 122, pages 1-544, 2000.
  2. Daniel Siegel.  The Science and Practice of Presence – The Groundbreaking Meditation Practice by, Rockridge Press, 2020
  3. Mayer EA.  The Gut Immune Connection.  Harper Wave, 2020

Sauté onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil in a large pot. Once soft add colored peppers and 1/8 of poblano pepper sliced thin and deseeded. Then add tomatoes, basil and cilantro to the mix. Once sufficiently mixed add pink oyster mushrooms (I grew these-  any mushrooms like crimini or baby portobella may be used) cut into bite sized pieces. Spice with Himalayan salt, Italian spices and bay leaf. Everything organic always. These are the same pink oyster mushrooms I grew on my dining room table. Ladle sauce over pink spiral lentil pasta gluten free. So delicious! You are not going to believe your taste buds! 


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