Skip to content

Inflammation Nation - The Devastating Effects of Chronic Inflammation [E011]

family baking togetherChronic inflammation is why so many chronic diseases are on the rise in today’s society. Discover why we live in a country that is so full to inflammation and the driving force behind that. Chronic diseases are on the rise along with infections. Learn what you body is telling you and what you can do to stop living in inflammation nation.

Episode Table Of Contents

Inflammation Nation: An Introduction

Dr. Bryan: All right. Welcome. Welcome back to The Wellness Connection Podcast. Here we are in the middle of the Midwest in Missouri. For those of you who don’t know, we’re in St. Louis, and it is so nice to actually see the sunshine on a day in the middle of winter. Would you agree?

Dr. Olivia: Yes, I’ll take any sunny day we can get.

Dr. Bryan: Today, I am Dr. Bryan Joseph as usual, but I’m actually with my wife, Dr. Olivia Joseph, and we are going to be sharing today’s episode with you on this sunny day. Welcome, Olivia.

Dr. Olivia: Thank you.

Dr. Bryan: What we have been talking about over the last several episodes are different ways that people can help to improve their lives naturally, different ways they can stay healthy. Bouncing around from category to category in terms of exercise, nutrition, different things that they may need a little assistance in or some education in, to try to get themselves to be their best version of themselves. An underlying issue for almost every health condition, seems like in many ways, has the same underlying issue, and it’s this concept of inflammation nation.

Dr.Bryan: Today we want to talk about how our nation has actually become an inflammation nation, and what that means in terms of your health and work our way through some things that you really need to be aware about, and of, to reduce and eliminate inflammation in your body, so that you can actually be well.

What is Inflammation?

Dr. Olivia, first of all, why don’t we begin by actually just making sure everyone’s clear on what inflammation means? What is inflammation?

Dr. Olivia: Inflammation is simply your body responding to something, and usually what it’s trying to do is protect you or heal you. If you think about if you’ve ever sprained your ankle, what happens? It gets red, it gets hot, it gets swollen. And we think that that’s bad, but it’s actually your body’s protective mechanism. Inflammation isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how your body is responding to something in your environment, in your diet, to a toxin, to a trauma such as a sprain.

Dr. Bryan: All right. That gives us a general idea of what inflammation actually is, and just like when we’ve been bit by a mosquito, you see a little bump raise and it turns red, or even when you get poison ivy on your skin and it actually gets the bumps and the rash. Those are forms of inflammation. But for today, when we reference a nation full of inflammation, what does that mean to you?

Inflammation is everywhere

Dr. Olivia: Well, inflammation is everywhere, meaning it can be anywhere in the body, anywhere. What it means is we know that that’s what’s driving the majority of our chronic diseases in America. When you look at cognitive decline, when you look at digestive diseases, when you look at pain, arthritis, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, inflammation is driving most of those chronic conditions.

Dr. Bryan: Watch this. When we go back to chiropractic school or any formal education for … in the medical background, anything that ends with an “itis” typically is a form of inflammation.

Dr. Olivia: Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Bryan: Right?

Dr. Olivia: Yes.

Dr. Bryan: Like she just said, arthritis, or-

Dr. Olivia: Right. Well, even when you talk about digestive diseases, you’re talking about irritable bowel syndrome, which is really inflammatory bowel disease. When you look at-

Dr. Bryan: Gastritis, right?

Dr. Olivia: -colitis … Exactly. Yeah, so those are great ways to label anything regarding inflammation.

The Common causes of Inflammation

Dr. Bryan: All right. If our nation or so many people in our country actually have inflammation, and not necessarily the kind where they have mosquito bites on their arms and they can see it, but it’s internally … that they’re dealing with the chronic inflammation across their body and in their organs and in their tissue, what do you believe are some of the common causes why people actually develop inflammation?

I think that having elevated blood sugar is a major issue. We know that diabetes is on the rise. Obesity is on the rise, and when you’re dealing with being overweight or have … we know sugar feeds inflammation

Dr. Bryan: Let’s back up, because in my mind, that’s already kind of like the effect, like your blood sugar’s elevated. What caused it to become elevated?

Dr. Olivia: Eating too many inflammatory foods, and sugar is one of the most inflammatory foods. When you look at foods like grains, in particular, they’re higher in sugar, but they’re very highly inflammatory and how … when you’re studying inflammatory foods, how do you determine a food is inflammatory? You can determine that by its omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Inflammatory foods are very high in omega-6s, very low in omega-3s, and that’s your typical American diet. That is not, per se, a worldwide diet.

“McDonald-ization of America,”

Dr. Bryan: There’s a term of the “McDonald-ization of America,” where everybody actually was going for a super-sized meal and get your Happy Meal or whatever your mega-meal was. I don’t remember what they even called it on the menu, where they-

Dr. Olivia: Super-size it.

Dr. Bryan: Well, super-size it, but leaving with a soda, thinking it’s really not that big a deal, but what I’m hearing you say is yeah, blood sugar and these other markers can become elevated, but they usually become elevated for a reason and that reason has something to do with what you’re actually ingesting and what you’re eating and what you’re drinking.

Dr. Olivia: Yeah, diet has a lot to do with it. Another thing that has a lot to do with it is infection. So we know, you see inflammatory markers go up when somebody has an infection. I would say diet, lifestyle, trauma, toxins, but also infections drive inflammation nation.

Dr. Bryan: We haven’t hit on infections, really, but you’re making me think. If someone’s wanting more help or just needing some information on foods, a while back, episode two, we actually laid down the foundation of food and how it impacts your decisions, so maybe for you listening out there, if you’re wanting at least to discover some healthier foods or really the basis of food, maybe go check out episode two, okay? But, infections, creating chronic inflammation, what else?

Dr. Olivia: What type of infections or what else as far as what type of foods?

Could it be genetics?

Dr. Bryan: What else can create inflammation, because everybody that has an “itis,” do they have an infection or is it just bad foods or is it genetics? Could it be genetics?

Dr. Olivia: No, it’s not genetic. It’s absolutely not genetic. What can be genetic is autoimmune disease. And when you have autoimmune disease, you have much higher levels of inflammation.

That can be genetic, but you can’t say inflammation is genetic.

Dr. Olivia: It really has to do with diet and lifestyle, as I said. A trauma? A lot of people that have an “itis,” a bursitis, a tendinitis, oftentimes that’s a trauma. That’s a physical cause for a physical problem. So, infection is in that category. Toxins are in that category because your body deals with toxins the same way it deals with inflammation, meaning something is going on in the body and your body is trying to protect you from that.

Always remember the “itis”

Dr. Bryan: So one of the simplest ways that I actually remember learning it was an “itis,” or inflammation typically means there’s too much of something. There’s deficiencies, but with deficiencies you rarely have those “itis-es.” I mean, sometimes you can, but usually, if you have an “itis,” that means you have too much of something, whether it be too much sugar, too much poor food, too much grains as you referenced before, but too much of something.

Correlation Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Inflammation

Dr. Olivia: Yeah, I do want to touch on one thing, as far as a deficiency goes. You’re right. Usually it’s an excess of something, but vitamin D deficiency is very, very common. And in people with low vitamin D, they tend to have higher levels of inflammation. So, instead of building up your vitamin D levels, your body uses vitamin D to fight against inflammation. So I see it with patients all the time when they say, “How could it be low?” Or, “I’m taking vitamin D. Why isn’t it going up?” Oftentimes it’s because your body is using that vitamin D to try to fight the inflammation. So there is a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and inflammation.

Dr. Bryan: All right, that makes sense. That makes sense. I guess I wouldn’t have thought of it that way until you shared it, but that’s good to know. So, it’s not just too much of … it can be too little of in some instances.

Dr. Olivia: It’s usually too much. It’s usually too much.

Dr. Bryan: Usually.

Dr. Olivia: But there’s that exception and I want to make that a point, because I see it a lot. When we talk more about testing, I look at vitamin D when I measure inflammatory markers. I look at them at the same time so I know what I’m walking into and I can reverse engineer and customize a protocol for someone based on what they have going on.

Signs and symptoms that can be some form of inflammation

Dr. Bryan: All right, so you said these are things that you see a lot, right? You see a lot of people come in with inflammation. So, for the people walking around that, like I said earlier, don’t have visible signs of inflammation that they actually see on their body, what other symptoms may they be experiencing that can be some form of inflammation?

Dr. Olivia: Pain is very, very common. That’s probably the most common. Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, digestive issues, acid reflux, indigestion, belching, diarrhea, stomach pain. Those are some things in the digestive category. Even just allergies and asthma. Your body is hyper-responsive to things in your environment. Brain fog, cardiovascular disease, difficulty losing weight? That’s a huge sign of inflammation because it doesn’t matter how much you cut your calories. It doesn’t matter how much you exercise. When your body is inflamed, it is not going to prioritize burning fat or fighting inflammation, and I use that analogy all the time.

Inflammation as a potential root cause

Dr. Olivia: I say if you’re cooking in your kitchen and you accidentally start a fire, you’re not just going to sit there and keep cooking your gourmet meal. You’re going to put out the fire. That’s what your body does. It will prioritize fighting inflammation over anything else you wanted to do and that becomes really frustrating for people because they’re not seeing results. And when you’re not seeing results or you’re dealing with an issue that’s not really acute, that’s more chronic, I think you have to look to inflammation as a potential root cause.

Dr. Bryan: That makes sense. One of the things … I don’t know if you said this. I don’t think I heard it, but one of the symptoms I see so many people experience is fatigue. They’re sluggish, they’re lethargic. And oftentimes, that’s probably the number one sign that we see or symptom that we see when someone’s body is off, especially when it pertains to having high levels of inflammation.

Dr. Olivia: Right.

Asthma, sinus issues, and other disorders

Dr. Bryan: Breathing disorders can have a lot to do with inflammation, meaning asthma, sinus issues, allergies as you referenced, digestive issues. I know you referenced a bunch of them there, but I also see people and hear people complain about bloating or tenderness in their bellies when they’re touching certain spots and they just don’t feel like things are moving through right and those are indications of some form of inflammation in the body, oftentimes. Because so many people have that, I think it’s important for maybe you to share, what are the dangers of actually having a body that’s got chronic inflammation and that sustains inflammation in the body for a long period of time? It’s one thing to actually just have an anaphylactic reaction and then have a little inflammation on your arm from a mosquito bite and that goes away, but-

Using inflammatory markers to gauge risk

Dr. Olivia: Yeah, but what are the risks? The risks are cancer. The risks are heart disease. The risks are Alzheimer’s and dementia. Those are pretty significant risk factors. When you have chronic inflammation attacking your heart? Your risk for a heart attack is more likely and how do you measure a heart attack risk? By looking at inflammatory markers in the cardiovascular system. When you have chronic inflammation in your blood vessels and in your brain, you are at a higher risk for stroke, blood clot and dementia. When you have chronic inflammation in your digestive tract, your risk for stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer all go up. So, you’re looking at cancer risk. You’re looking at cardiovascular risk and you’re looking at a significant risk for cognitive decline or dementia.

Dr. Bryan: So, one thing I found fascinating was so many people as they come in and complain that their joints are stiff, as an example. They say, “Oh, my hands are stiff or they’re swollen,” or “My shoulder is stiff or my knees and hips are getting stiff as I age.” I don’t think everybody really understands the correlation of what a systemic level of inflammation means and I think it’s important to define that for people, is just because you’re feeling inflammation in your hands or your joints … you know, it’s like that old song, “The hip bone’s connected to the knee bone?”

Dr. Bryan: Your joints are part of your body and so are your organs. So just because you have joint pain and joint inflammation, nine times out of 10, you also have inflammation across the important and vital organs that you just shared, like your brain or your heart or your digestive tract.

Dr. Olivia: Your liver, kidneys.

How to get tested for inflammation

Dr. Bryan: Right, I guess they all count. They all matter. So, how would you recommend somebody learns or discovers more on how to test for inflammation? Do you wait until you have a problem or are there ways to figure this out?

Dr. Olivia: No, no, no. Ideally, you don’t wait until there’s a problem because these issues start potentially decades before you have problems. We all know somebody that we thought was healthy, who something happens to them in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. I mean, that is really young to get chronically or deathly ill, but at the end of the day, that person’s issue has been underlying and undetected for years and years.

Dr. Olivia: Inflammation is a silent killer and it’s a silent cause of chronic disease. So you don’t wait. One thing you know we do, from the get-go, is when we run our comprehensive blood panel, we look at inflammatory markers. Specifically, we look at C-reactive protein and we look at homocystine. Sed rate is also a marker of inflammation, but we don’t usually look at that unless we’re suspecting an infection. We also look at vitamin D status because vitamin D, when it’s lower, your body isn’t as efficient and effective at fighting inflammation nation, so those are some factors we look at.

Metabolic panel

Dr. Bryan: So, when people go to a doctor, because almost everybody’s had blood taken and even like I was in the situation, too, but when you get a blood draw or you do a CBC, you say these different unique markers, but is it common practice for all those markers to be tested when someone gets blood drawn?

Dr. Olivia: No, the most common thing you have done in labs, virtually do it for free, is a CBC and what’s called the metabolic panel. The issue with that is things have to be really, really, really bad for anything to show up abnormal. Those tests do not detect deficiencies and inflammation and toxicity. You have to run the right testing and it’s not hard to get this testing. Your traditional labs do it, but a doctor has to order it, which means a doctor has to understand inflammation and nutritional deficiencies.

Dr. Bryan: I’ll put myself in the ignorant category on this. When you run a blood test, I just thought … I always wonder, why do they got to take so many vials of blood? Can’t you just test every aspect of your blood at once?

Dr. Olivia: No.

Dr. Bryan: And you’ve taught me and other people have shared with me that that’s just not how it works and so it’s common practice to just test little, small increments of your blood. And it’s a shame, because oftentimes we’re missing so many different markers that can help us indicate whether we have a problem versus waiting until the disease starts to show up, right?

Dr. Olivia: Yeah. No, that’s true.

Foods to avoid to reduce inflammation

Dr. Bryan: So let’s go back. Earlier in the conversation we were referencing food as some of the causative factors for why people produce inflammation and have inflammation nation. Can you share what are some of the foods to avoid that could most commonly produce inflammation in someone’s American diet?

Dr. Olivia: Sure. Number one is gluten. It really is. And right after that is going to be sugar. So, gluten … and I don’t really call sugar a food. Do you know what I mean? Where gluten or wheat-based products, they’re food. I don’t call sugar a food. It’s an additive, technically. So, wheat has a 20:1 omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio, which makes it very inflammatory. That’s all you need to know about it. And what happens is when you’re in the category of grains, in general, grains tend to be more inflammatory. This is one of the reasons why people go on paleo-type diets.

Dr. Olivia: The number one reason people go on a paleo diet is because of inflammation and a paleo diet is grain-free, sugar-free, and it’s also dairy-free. Now, why dairy? It’s because dairy is very acidic and anything acidic in nature is going to be inflammatory. So grains, dairy, sugar? Those are the top three most inflammatory foods.

Nobody does Paleo diet just for inflammatory issues

Reduce inflammation with Dr. Olivia’s Cooking Book

Dr. Bryan: All right, so I contend that not everybody goes on the paleo diet just for inflammatory issues. In their mind … I understand what you’re saying because I understand … obviously, I’ve spent enough time in this clinical world, but I think most people change their diet first and foremost because they don’t feel right and they actually see that they gain weight. And as you said before, weight gain is a form of inflammation, right?

Dr. Olivia: Yeah, and so is not feeling right.

Dr. Bryan: Right. But, just so we’re all on the same page, I think a lot of people don’t often just say, “I’m going to go keto,” or “I’m going to go paleo, simply because I want to reduce inflammation in my body.” Some people do, because they’re acutely aware of what’s going on, but slowly, but surely you see through the aging process with so many people that you just seem to move slower or you seem to just pick up a few extra pounds that you couldn’t get rid of. Those are the little check engine lights that are the indicators that says, okay, you’re accumulating inflammation. Maybe you’ve had … just like you said, what were the three foods again?

Dr. Olivia: Grains, sugar, dairy.

Dr. Bryan: Okay, maybe you’ve had an accumulation of those three over a course of decades and it’s finally catching up with you, right?

Dr. Olivia: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Maybe you’ve had inflammation for decades and you just didn’t know about it because you were never having it tested.

Why gluten might be bad for you

Dr. Bryan: Yeah, you know, actually episode nine, which we recorded just a little while ago, actually that was all about gluten-free. So if people are wondering why grains are bad or why gluten might be bad, it may be worth your while to actually go listen to the episode nine that we did on why those things matter, right?

Dr. Olivia: Absolutely. And you know, too, that I’ve trained not only the general public. I’ve spoken on inflammation at different seminars and conferences, but I’ve also trained physicians on inflammation and that’s the biggest thing that I’m teaching them, is make sure you use your testing appropriately to help your patients. So I’m always telling them to run those inflammatory markers on everybody. Run vitamin D on everybody and your more functional or integrative physicians already know that, but for those just getting started, those are really important markers. Another factor is sometimes food sensitivities create inflammation, so there’s even foods that are not inflammatory, in general, but if you have a food sensitivity to something, when you eat that food, it produces inflammation in your body, so I think that’s something to consider.

Turmeric and other anti-inflammatory foods

Dr. Bryan: All right, let’s make this super, super practical. Not everyone’s going to run out and actually run all these blood markers, instantly, and not everyone’s going to just transform their diet, but what they could do that would be easy for them to implement is if we were to share some simple foods that could be in the anti-inflammatory category, like okay, start putting these into your diet more frequently and there’s a good chance that you could at least naturally benefit from some of these things. Like, what are some foods that fall into that zone?

Dr. Olivia: The most anti-inflammatory food that exists is probably turmeric and there has been so much research done on turmeric. The issue with turmeric is it’s so hard to absorb, so you could eat all the turmeric in the world and it’s probably going to stain your teeth and if you get it on your clothing, it’s going to stain your clothing and it’s very hard to absorb, so turmeric and ginger, in general, they’re in the same root family.

Dr. Olivia: They’re very anti-inflammatory. So I recommend those all day, every day, but if you supplement with them, when they’re combined in high enough doses with something called bioperine, which is a form of pepper to help you absorb that turmeric and ginger into your bloodstream, it’s going to have a lot of good there. There’s been studies done on turmeric and colitis, turmeric and cognitive function, turmeric and digestive issues and joint pain, so there’s just so much research to support turmeric for those things, but just eating it usually isn’t enough because it’s really hard to absorb.

Curcuminoid: The active anti-inflammatory component

Dr. Bryan: So, when you say turmeric, I instantly think of like spicy, curry food. Is that the same thing?

Dr. Olivia: Yeah, so that has turmeric powder in it. And the active anti-inflammatory component is the curcuminoid. So, you can concentrate that and make a supplement versus you have to eat so much turmeric and you’re not going to get enough eating curry twice a week. You’re really not. You know, when you look at a typical Indian diet, some of those people eat turmeric three times a day, every single day, right? The fact that we incorporate it into our diet once or twice a week, we think we’re doing our body a lot of good. It’s not a bad thing to do, but it’s not enough to actually reduce inflammation

Dr. Bryan: Acid, like acidic-based foods, versus alkaline-based foods. Are alkaline-based foods, which typically would be like green vegetables or like cucumbers? Are those in the category of helping to reduce inflammation or is that-

Dr. Olivia: They help with acidity. They definitely help with acidity, but are they’re technically anti-inflammatory? No. I mean, inflammation and acidity are very similar, but they’re not technically the same thing.

Ginger & turmeric for everyone?

Dr. Bryan: So, would everybody, in your opinion, benefit from introducing root vegetables or putting some form of ginger and turmeric into their diet?

Dr. Olivia: Yes. You just have to make sure you’re getting enough of it and in the right forms. Eating a more alkaline-type diet with a lot of greens, with lemon in your water, with making sure you’re using the right salts, like Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt, which also help to support alkalinity and the absorption of water, you have people going out and spending $1500 to $2000 on water systems that will alkalize their water.

Dr. Olivia: That’s great, but we still have to be conscious of what we’re doing with our diet and those spices are very anti-inflammatory … the hard part is getting enough of them. So, if you actually use ginger root and turmeric root and juice them, you’re going to get a little bit more than you will from the powder itself, but you know at the end of the day, I recommend supplementing with it.

Recommended ginger & turmeric supplements

Dr. Bryan: Okay, so on that note, are there specific ginger supplements and turmeric supplements that you can actually just take like that?

Dr. Olivia: Yes, ideally, you would take them combined, meaning why would you take a ginger supplement and a turmeric supplement? They’re in the same family. You should be able to get one supplement that has them both. The other thing is, it has to have some type of pepper.

Bioperine is a form of black pepper or cayenne pepper. You need that pepper to help absorb it and you also have to eat it with a meal-containing fat because turmeric and ginger are fat soluble.

So, it’s a little tricky to get it absorbed, but if you take the supplement, if you take it with a meal, you will see positive benefits.

Future episodes on supplements!

Dr. Bryan: I think we could end up doing several episodes in the future on supplements, because there’s a lot of confusion, just in general. What are the right minerals and supplements and how do we get them into our bodies, etc., etc., etc. All right, now let’s give you some context. I know years ago you had created your own formulas, right?

Dr. Olivia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Bryan: One of the first ones when you were all geeked out about it, saying I’m going to do this because nobody … I see the biggest issue is systemic inflammation nation is the product that I want to first create or concoct was an anti-inflammatory. Turmeric, just like what you described, so it makes sense because I know that you’re probably going to get your biggest bang for your buck by saying, “Let’s reduce inflammation in someone’s body instantly and then let’s see what else we can improve along the way.”

Dr. Olivia: Absolutely.

Dr. Bryan: So, I guess I’ll stay on it.

Dr. Olivia: Stay on it!

Get tested!

Dr. Bryan: So, any closing thoughts that you want to share before we wrap up regarding inflammation nation?

Dr. Olivia: Yeah, one thing I do want people to know is we get so wrapped up in, “I can’t get the right testing,” or “I ask for it,” or “My doctor won’t do it.” At the end of the day, there are many direct-to-consumer labs. You can order your own testing. And a test like a C-reactive protein, I mean, the cost is not much. It’s, on average, 10 bucks if you self-pay it.

Dr. Olivia: Homocystine’s a little more expensive, but it’s still under 20. So, if you’re trying to get access to the right testing and you can’t, order it yourself and then you know. And, for me, what I love doing is checking these markers and then rechecking them three months later. How do you know if what you’re doing is working? Yeah, you’re going to feel better and you’re going to see results, but I’m all about the science. I’m all about the objective stuff that you can see before and afters with.

“Give it enough time”

Dr. Olivia: And when you’re talking about inflammation, you can make a profound impact in a short period of time. Whatever you do end up doing, give it about three months. If you do eat paleo, if you do take turmeric supplements, if you do implement a more alkaline diet, give your body about three months and then the results are so measurable, that you’re not like, “Well, I think this is helping, but I’m not really sure.” Just give it enough time.

Closing thoughts on inflammation

Dr. Bryan: In closing, I don’t want to sound like the grim reaper, by any means, but we are just experiencing a tremendous amount of inflammation nation across the board. Adults, even children, kids, even young, young, young kids at the toddler and infant stage are starting to … because of some of the formulas are being fed and different things, etc., but it’s really, really important for you to take this serious. If you want to enjoy the quality of your life, you’ve got to feel right. Your body has to function right and inflammation can certainly get in the way of that, so I would tell you this … well, let’s close on this.

Dr. Bryan: There are a ton of people that are not going to be the ones hearing this today and they are the ones that, unfortunately, are sitting at home or going to work or the doctor’s office and they’re struggling with their health. If you heard something today that you think may benefit somebody, I could promise you, I could assure that those people are looking for someone to provide just a glimpse of hope as to what they can do to change their life.d

Dr. Olivia: Thanks for having me.

Check out our page for more of our podcasts.

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.