David Seaman: Inflammation From Our Diet Is Killing Us Slowly
"It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage."Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark
Science continues to shed new light on how nutrition has a huge effect on the status of our health. In particular, medicine is zeroing in inflammation as key factor in the aging process - that, over time, diet-caused inflammation wears down our internal systems, resulting in impaired performance (e.g., leaky gut, weight gain) and disease (e.g., Diabetes, heart disease).
This week, Chris speaks with Dr. David Seaman, Professor of Clinical Sciences at the National University of Health Sciences, one of the leading experts on clinical nutrition for pain and inflammation. They discuss inflammation, what causes it, the damage it does to our bodies, and the dietary changes we can make to reduce our exposure to it. This exploration is heavy on the science, but still very accessible to the interested layman:
Inflammation related to diet is a very, very subtle process. So for example, just waking up in the morning, going over to the coffee shop, and having a donut that actually leads to low-grade inflammation after you eat, but you just do not feel it. It is a very distinct process.
The problem with dietary inflammation is it basically builds up on us over time. And then out of the blue, we can be diagnosed with any number of possible diseases and you can think, I wonder what caused this. And it was the last 10 – 30 years, depending upon how aggressive one was in their pursuit of the disease. I call it 'pursuing disease' with dietary inflammation.
Depending upon how aggressive one is, it can appear that the cause/effect relationship is lost because compared to a sprained ankle or a bee sting you do not do a 'drive-by self-shooting', as I call it. It is not like you eat fast food at a restaurant and all of a sudden feel aches and pains everywhere. It takes time to progress. So you have the acute inflammation with an injury that is very obvious. Then you have the more subtle low-grade inflammation that you cannot even feel initially. But they are generally the same. It is just that with an acute scenario, there is actual tissue injury and it is much more robust, more overt versus subtle.
So for the chronic inflammation example, you go and do a 'drive-by self-shooting' or you stop at a coffee shop and have whatever you are going to have: a bagel, a cup of coffee or tea, or you'll even have a donut. But that will cause, after you eat it, a postprandial, (postprandial means "after we eat it"); you will get a surge of blood sugar because you just consumed a refined carbohydrate. That surge of blood sugar is going to get dumped into a muscle. And that will take place as a consequence of insulin being released. That surge of blood sugar it is typically not normal for us to experience, based upon our genetic disposition in terms of food sources. So you will have rapid movement of the blood sugar into immune cells, for example. And when the immune cells get hit with this high blood sugar surge, they generate free radicals. And these free radicals lead to the production by the immune cell by inflammatory chemistry. So there is an immediate, a postprandial, post-eating inflammatory response to hyperglycemia. It is subtle dietary trauma versus overt physical trauma.
Of great value in this interview is the identification of the worst dietary offenders (refined sugars, flours, Omega-6 and trans fats) and the strategies we can use in our eating to keep inflammation at bay.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with David Seaman (40m:35s):
Chris Martenson: Welcome to this peakprosperity.com podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson. One of the core tenets of resiliency is being and staying healthy. And of course, we have all heard, "you are what you eat." But our understanding of what that really means is growing by leaps and bounds. And more to the point, you are as healthy as what you eat. Curing a disease is not nearly as important as avoiding that disease in the first place. But if you are unhealthy then curing that takes precedence over everything else. Fortunately, both of these conditions, staying healthy and curing disease, can be addressed in many cases by being selective about what you eat. More and more we are beginning to appreciate the role of food's impact on metabolic processes and how that initiates or modifies both health and certain disease conditions.
Well, today’s podcast is about how we can make the right eating choices for robust health. And that begins by understanding the context and the scientific data that undergirds this growing awareness. Speaking with us today is David Seaman, Professor of Clinical Sciences at the National University of Health Sciences, Florida Site in Pinellas Park where he teaches evaluation and management courses for the musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems as well as (this is the biggie) nutrition. Graduate of Rutgers University and New York Chiropractic College, Master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, David authored a book on clinical nutrition for pain and inflammation. He has written several chapters and articles on this topic. In 2002, he wrote the first detailed clinical article that described the relationship between diet and inflammation. He started studying the connection between diet and inflammation way back in 1987. His website is deflame.com. He is currently working on a new book for the general public. David, welcome to the program.
David Seaman: Thanks for having me on Chris.
Chris Martenson: Well now much of your work centers on the role of inflammation and its role in promoting unhealthy conditions. So let us start there. What is inflammation?
David Seaman: Inflammation is kind of interesting depending upon one’s training. If you speak to healthcare practitioners, and this could be myself as a chiropractor, medical doctors, physical therapists, across the board, we all learn inflammation out of, usually, a common physiology book called Guyton’s Physiology. That is the biggest one. There is about three pages in there on inflammation. And there is about three pages in there on pain. And that is the extent of our learning regarding pain and inflammation before you get into how to treat various conditions. So there is a big gap in there.
When you look at inflammation in that context, it is always described in the context of an infection or an overt injury like a sprained ankle where you see obvious swelling, it can get warm... And the outcome then is just very obvious and it is painful. And that is not inflammation related to diet.
Inflammation related to diet is a very, very subtle process. So for example, just waking up in the morning, going over to the coffee shop, and having a donut – that actually leads to low-grade inflammation after you eat, but you just do not feel it. They're two very distinct processes.
The problem with the dietary one is it basically builds up on us over time. And then out of the blue, we can be diagnosed with any number of possible diseases and think, I wonder what caused this? And it was the last 10–30 years, depending upon how aggressive one was in their pursuit of the disease. I call it "Pursuing disease with dietary inflammation."
Depending upon how aggressive one is, it can appear, but the cause/effect relationship is lost because, compared to a sprained ankle or a bee sting, you do not do a "drive by self-shooting," as I call it. It is not like you eat fast food at a restaurant and all of a sudden feel aches and pains everywhere. It takes time to progress. So you have the acute inflammation with an injury that is very obvious. Then you have the more subtle, low-grade inflammation that you cannot even feel initially.
Chris Martenson: I love knowing how things work. What is the process of inflammation? Now I know this could get very, very complicated. We do not need all the biochemical processes. But generally speaking, when we were talking about inflammation you mentioned that if I twist my ankle, I am going to feel the heat, I am going to feel the swelling, and I am going to feel the pain. What is going on in that type of inflammation? How does that differ maybe from chronic inflammation or is there any difference between low-grade, chronic, or acute inflammation or are they the same process?
David Seaman: Well they are generally the same. It is just that with an acute scenario, there is actual tissue injury and it is much more robust, more overt, versus subtle. So for the chronic inflammation example, you go and do a drive by self-shooting, or you stop at a coffee shop and have, whatever you are going to have – a bagel with butter and a cup of coffee or tea or you will even have a donut. But that will cause, after you eat it – so postprandially, "after we eat it" – we will get a surge of blood sugar because we just consumed a refined carbohydrate. That surge of blood sugar is going to get dumped into muscle – and that will take place as a consequence of insulin being released. But then that surge of blood sugar is typically not normal for us to experience, based upon our genetic disposition in terms of food sources. So you will have rapid movement of the blood sugar into immune cells, for example. And when the immune cells get hit with this high blood sugar surge, they generate free radicals. And these free radicals lead to the production by the immune cell of inflammatory chemistry. So there is an immediate, postprandial, post-eating inflammatory response to hyperglycemia. It is subtle dietary trauma versus overt physical trauma.
Chris Martenson: Now what I just heard you say is that ordinary table sugar is an inflammatory compound.
David Seaman: Yes.
Chris Martenson: And so where do we find ordinary table sugar besides in a jar on our table? That is in sodas. It is in pretty much everything you could possibly imagine that has glucose written on the back of it?
David Seaman: Yeah, anything that is sugary or floury – sugars and flours.
Chris Martenson: And flours too, so refined flours.
David Seaman: Oh yes.
Chris Martenson: So anything with a refined starch in it and/or table sugar, we are going to get that same inflammatory response that is going to be kicked out.
David Seaman: Yes.
Chris Martenson: And how do we know that? How is that measured right now?
David Seaman: That is the problem with this. Initially, it is hard to measure. But there are subtle ways to do it through markers that are just not commonly used in clinical settings. So I can give you a couple examples. They actually use this as a test meal, for example. They used three pieces of white toast with butter on it, a cup of tea, which would be one test meal. And then they actually used an egg McMuffin and one of those deep fried hash brown patties, each equaling 900 calories. Now if you are looking at it, there is zero vegetation, zero bioflavonoids, which help to kind of quell or calm down the inflammatory process.
They have identified two postprandial ways to measure this dietary inflammation. One is actually by measuring an elevation of something called "bacterial endotoxin." And what that is is this part of the cell wall of gram negative bacteria that are in our small intestine. So eating those foods causes us to get a low grade endotoxemia, and has been measured in lean 23-, 24-, 25-year-olds.
Chris Martenson: Well, hold on. What is happening here? I need to know this. So these gram negative bacteria, their cell walls are getting leaky and they are leaking some sorts of toxins in response to being hit with these inflammatories? Is that the process?
David Seaman: Okay.
Chris Martenson: Or did I misinterpret?
David Seaman: No, it goes like this. So our gut gets hit with this refined flour and sugar and lipid – fat. And an hour or two later, you can measure the blood and you can actually identify increases in bacterial endotoxins.
Chris Martenson: Oh.
David Seaman: So we get a transient leaky gut event. And you may not feel anything. So when you are young and you are a kid, you are playing baseball and running around doing whatever you are doing. You feel fine. You cannot feel anything because it is low-grade.
Now here is what is interesting. If we do this over time – we have actually identified this, following patients for five years. If you eat an anti-inflammatory diet, which is basically wild game, lean meat, fish, fowl, that type of stuff, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and then you compare that to a fast foot type of diet. Five years later, the fast food dieter is much more likely to have depression. And there has actually been a correlation between progressively elevating levels of endotoxin with the expression of both diabetes and depression.
Chris Martenson: And so part of this process then, if you are eating these highly refined carbohydrates (I will just lump them in there) and you also mentioned lipids there for a minute. So we will get into that in a second. But at least if you are taking in these highly refined carbohydrates, you might get a leaky gut syndrome. You might get these bacterial endotoxins coming in. You keep that on long enough and we are going to now find that you are more highly correlated with depression and, what was the other thing you mentioned?
David Seaman: Diabetes.
Chris Martenson: Diabetes, Type I or – Type II, I assume, right?
David Seaman: Yeah, Type II.
Chris Martenson: Type II, okay. So how long does that have to go on before – so let me make sure I got this right. As long as people are on this regime of eating that kind of a diet, they are giving themselves low-grade inflammation and some part of that cohort, some part of that group, will go down a path of having what we would call full blown, identifiable disease progression result out of that?
David Seaman: Absolutely, it is well documented.
Chris Martenson: And so, it is a bell curve, so some people probably could do this quite a bit and not harm themselves. But other people are going to be more sensitive to it. Where do you think the center mass of the population is? Is this basically okay for the center mass, but it is only a problem for people at the edge of the bell curve? Or is this a problem for everybody but maybe a very select few?
David Seaman: I would say the latter.
Chris Martenson: The latter.
David Seaman: Yeah. And here is where you know you start moving into it. I would say that this would be an absolute marker that was obvious. This is where someone can maybe not feel necessarily sick yet, but this will happen to the average person once they go from being normal body weight, their body mass index rises, and then they move to where they are overtly obese – and you do not need to be that large to be overtly obese. At some point, although I do not know where it is, its all individual, but around the time that your waistline starts to exceed your chest measurement, you ask these people, "After you eat and you feel full, does your brain tell you that you are still hungry even though you have the sensation of fullness?" And if they say yes, you can bet that they have got multiple markers of inflammation that are elevated.
That is a big sign of – actually, the hypothalamus in that case, the brain – hypothalamus, becomes inflamed so that it does not respond to the satiating – the feel full signals – that you are supposed to get from insulin and another hormone called leptin. So the whole body becomes inflamed.
Chris Martenson: So what has happened here – if you can identify that you still have the sensation – I am going to say maybe the "brain sensation" of hunger even though you have the "stomach sensation" of being full, this means that you are in a metabolic state where you are probably inflamed to the point that your body is no longer processing signals appropriately.
David Seaman: Exactly.
Chris Martenson: All right, so we have talked about these processed carbohydrates. I just want to make sure we get the big buckets before we go into the next part of this. So we got your basic starches and sugar itself. You mentioned a lipid before. Is that – what were you referring to there?
David Seaman: The lipid part is interesting. And to me it is kind of a sensitive issue to talk about just because people have weird ideas about lipids because they think of cholesterol and triglycerides.
The first thing to understand about cholesterol and triglycerides (and we will get back to the other part of it) is that the best way to – if you really want to get high cholesterol and high triglycerides, eat a lot of sugar and flour. That is how you get high triglycerides and high cholesterol. Because if you follow the pathway from eating refined carbohydrates, sugars, and flours – we convert it into glucose. And the glucose pathway – from glucose it goes right down and it makes triglycerides and it makes cholesterol.
You will find this pretty amazing. When you eat the refined carbohydrates, it turns on insulin because your body needs to dump the glucose. The insulin stimulates the enzyme that statins inhibit. I will say it again. So this enzyme called "HMG-CoA reductase" – so statins are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. HMG-CoA reductase is stimulated by insulin, which is stimulated by sugar.
So when I say lipid – when you eat fat, you tend not to get fat because fat satiates you. When you eat fat, even saturated fat, your HDL cholesterol tends to get better. But the problem is, if you just take, for example, organic heavy cream made by the most magnificently taken care of cows –you drink heavy cream and that is all you do, you will also get some endotoxin absorption because the body in nature is really designed to consume vegetation with our other sources of calories. It has been done around the world like that forever and ever. So your gut is just not wired to just get pure lipid, or pure starch, or a combination of the two.
If you add vegetation to both of those, you'll get less of an inflammatory response afterwards. Now I always say that carefully because people say, "I can go do a drive by shooting and then have some vegetable juice and I will be fine." No, because those same calories will still screw you up slowly down the road. But you will be less bad off if you add the vegetation to these more pro-inflammatory meals.
Lipid, when it is mixed with refined carbohydrate – that gives you a double dose of endotoxin. Plus you get the high blood sugar response that initiates a similar inflammatory reaction. That is measurable. That is measureable.
Chris Martenson: Very interesting, and I need to back up just a second because I love that part about the statins. So maybe a lot of people listening to this are or know somebody who is on a statin. So the idea of a statin is it targets a specific enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase. And it down regulates that or it shuts it down. And because of that, less cholesterol lipids are produced. And so conventional scientists said, "Wow, look at high cholesterol. And it is correlated with heart disease, atherosclerosis, and stuff like that. So if we can just knock the cholesterol down. We are going to target this enzyme." But that is shooting your fire hose basically at the top of the fire because the bottom of the fire is the fact that that same enzyme is up regulated or turned on because people are eating sugar.
David Seaman: Yeah.
Chris Martenson: So the way to have really targeted this, rather than taking a statin to try and short circuit this thing in the middle of the path, is to not eat the sugar and the refined starches, correct?
David Seaman: Exactly.
Chris Martenson: Yeah. So as an aside, say what you can as a practitioner in the field, but how is it that medical science misses something like that? That seems like a very Rube Goldberg way to go about something that could be more readily addressed through nutrition than a pill.
David Seaman: Yeah, well I have just been impressed in a sense where, after hitting my 50’s, I am like, You know, everyone is prone to dogma and conditioning based upon their training. So if you are trained to think that eating fat will make you fat, or if eating fat will elevate your cholesterol, and there is some subtle associations – and depending upon how you use statistics – which you know very well you can look at something in terms of relative risk versus absolute risk, and they will look innocuous from the absolute risk perspective. So it depends upon on how you manipulate statistics.
Here is the problem with this when you start looking at heart disease. They look at the end result. They see some people who are – the average person with diabetes or heart disease has bad cholesterol. But that is because of the sugar issue and the lack of exercise. Because what the cause is – and you and all of your listeners have heard this – it is the LDL that goes up, and LDL they say is bad. The HDL goes down. And they say, "Well that is good – we are losing the good stuff." But that actually misses a huge part of the story. LDL is very good. HDL is very good. And both HDL and LDL can become pro-inflammatory. They can actually metabolically shift. And what makes them pro-inflammatory is sugar and flour. And Omega 6 fatty acids.
Yeah, so if you eat sugar, flour, and trans fats, you will elevate LDL and you will lower HDL. And if sugar stays elevated long enough, like blood sugar stays elevated long enough, we now transform our LDL into a smaller, more dense LDL that is harder to break down. Then it becomes oxidized and now LDL cholesterol acts as a free radical. And that is what damages and initiates the atherogenesis process. And it could be heart, brain, peripheral arteries, all over the place. It is the sugar that does it.
Chris Martenson: So we have these little hard, dense LDL particles rummaging around, but they have been radicalized in essence.
David Seaman: Yeah, exactly.
Chris Martenson: They are just like little tiny scrub brushes running around sort of abrading the insides of our delicate, beautiful arteries. And then those become inflamed maybe just almost by a chemically mechanical process, like little chemical scrub brushes just having at it day after day.
David Seaman: That is interesting. It is actually a little bit different Chris. So what happens is: Because we have these weird, dense, small LDLs – and that is totally abnormal for humans to have because we are not supposed to have high sugar and trans fats – so it becomes like an antigen, a foreign substance that the immune system must react to.
Chris Martenson: Oh, yeah.
David Seaman: So once you are small and dense and then the hyperglycemia (the high blood sugar) continues and the consumption of sugar continues, the small, dense LDL become radicalized. And these oxidized, small, dense LDL the immune systems recognizes as an antigen and they initiate a low-grade – which will literally be a low-grade autoimmune reaction. And that is what is taking place in vessels around the body, wherever it happens to be. And furthermore, what is very interesting, is that you can have all these changes and – think about where they draw the blood from. They draw the blood from veins. And you never have atherosclerosis in veins. It is only in the arteries. If you transplant a vein to where an artery was and it starts to function like an artery, it will develop atherosclerosis because the turbulence initiates a reaction.
Normally, the body is supposed to deal with the reaction and not create plaquing. But when we have oxidized, small, dense LDL, the reaction does not turn off. A chronic inflammatory process in the vessel wall does not turn off. And that is what leads to the clogging event.
Chris Martenson: Fascinating, thank you for that description. That makes a lot of sense to me. Now let us finish up on the lipids. We have mentioned a couple of them. But there are a lot of people that are interested in Omega 6 versus Omega 3. You mentioned a trans fat. So let us break down lipids a little bit in the role.
We already understand that, obviously if we just clog our system with any kind of lipid no matter how wonderful, we are not ready for that digestively. So that can lead to some of its own issues. But within the world of fats, obviously there has been a lot of confusion. We were actually spreading trans fats on our toast for health reasons and then that did not turn out to be a good idea. Help us to understand lipids.
David Seaman: In terms of fats, the lipids would include cholesterol and then other fats and oils. But we will look at the fats and oils. So you have olive oil and then you have say butter. And each of them is made up of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. And they call the unsaturated fatty acids mono or poly. So people say, "well olive oil is really good." And they say it is really good because it has a lot of mono unsaturated fatty acids. It is called oleic acid. About 75 percent of olive oil is this mono unsaturated fatty acid. About 15 percent of olive oil is saturated. And 10 percent, roughly, is polyunsaturated, and that's where you have the Omega 6-Omega 3 breakdown. So when we look at olive oil it's very simple.
When we look at, say, corn oil, which then became margarine because of the way they hydrogenate the corn oil, it contains, I think, about 15 percent saturated – I forget the exact amount in mono. But it has about 60 percent polys, which means a tablespoon of corn oil is 60 percent Omega 6. Never in mankind’s history were we ever exposed to that.
In fact, in the old days, they only used butter when that became available. They used olive oil. They used coconut oil. All these other oils were used for mechanical lubrication, machinery, and illumination. They were never used for anything besides that. They are cheap and easy to grow. So we consume them.
So the Omega 6, the polys – it has to do with where the first double bond is. And so Omega 6 is just a fatty acid. And it is found concentrated in (and I will give you the big list) in corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, and soybean oil. They have way high Omega 6.
You are supposed to have a dietary balance. You want to be below 4:1. Each of those is well above 4:1. In fact, safflower, sunflower, they have virtually no Omega 3 and they are almost pure Omega 6. So when we eat Omega 6 fatty acids, our body takes the seed oil, Omega 6, and converts it into a larger Omega 6 fatty acid. So we convert it from a linoleic into an arachidonic, and the arachidonic in our body becomes part of our cell membranes. And when the body gets perturbed, the body converts the arachidonic acid into prostaglandin E2. And prostaglandin E2 causes pain and inflammation. So we literally eat pain by eating those foods. We literally eat pain and inflammation if we eat corn fed, grain fed cattle.
Now here is another thing about drugs. If I take an NSAID for my joint point or my osteoarthritic pain, I am inhibiting the enzyme that converts the dietary arachidonic acid into the prostaglandin.
Chris Martenson: Say that again.
David Seaman: So if I eat corn oil, safflower, sunflower, I will eat that and my body will convert the linoleic acid into arachidonic acid. If I eat grain fed animal products, I will get preformed arachidonic acid. And that has to go somewhere. It goes into cell membranes. And when the body gets perturbed, whether it is a subtle or more dramatic injury, the body uses the arachidonic acid in the cell membrane to produce prostaglandins. So when you have joint pain, and you take an NSAID and the pain gets better, it is because you have too much dietary Omega 6 fatty acids in cell membranes within the body.
Chris Martenson: Well that is amazing to think that corn oil is – 60 percent of that is Omega 6. Now epidemiologically, we should be able to detect this. Of course there is the so called "Mediterranean" diet, which is correlated with lower heart disease and what not. But you are mentioning a pain pathway. Is there anything epidemiologically to suggest that people who are eating the Mediterranean diet, or perhaps live there, have lower incidences of chronic pain or the types of pain management that are more prevalent maybe in other areas?
David Seaman: The data is pretty weak in that regard. So you have to look at it from the pure chemistry perspective. Unfortunately, there is just not a lot of data on dietary change or lifestyles and pain expression. But we do know this when it comes to pain expression, anybody who has metabolic syndrome or their body mass index starts to rise up, the odds favor that they are going to experience more pain. And that is across all joints. That is disk herniation in the neck and the low back. That is tendon pain, tendinopathy as they are called in the knee, the ankle, the elbows, and the shoulder. There will be widespread pain like someone might think they have fibromyalgia and they have just got this chronic inflammatory state related to this metabolic syndrome. That is much more documented. So if you are living a lifestyle where you do not eat those foods, you would be less likely to express those pains. But they have not done the kind of study that you are talking about.
Chris Martenson: Okay. But certainly the incidence of heart disease and other things like that has been pretty well correlated.
David Seaman: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
Chris Martenson: And much of what I understand about heart disease specifically if it is around the atherosclerotic process there, we are talking about that is an inflammatory process in your mind at this point, right?
David Seaman: Yeah, that is the oxidized, small, dense LDLs that are the drivers of it.
Chris Martenson: Okay, so great. So we have been through sugars. We have been through carbohydrates. We have been through the lipids or fats. What about proteins? You and I had a very interesting conversation the other day and it was around everybody’s favorite protein de jour, gluten – talk to us about that interesting compound.
David Seaman: Yeah, gluten is a problem. Again, humans were not really exposed to these grains until the last couple hundred years or so – more like a thousand, I suppose. I do not know the exact timing on it. But when we consume gluten, gluten is made up of individual molecules called gliadins and glutenins. And when the GI tract is exposed to the gluten proteins, the gluten peptides, they stimulate a reaction in the gut cell wall that causes the actual body gut cell wall cells (they are called enterocytes) – our body produces this chemical called zonulin when we eat gluten.
Zonulin breaks down the barrier between the very important intestinal cells and allows for antigens from food and bacteria to be absorbed, causing an immune response in the gut. And if you are unlucky, you get celiac disease. If you are unlucky, you can get really nasty gluten sensitivity syndromes like chronic headaches, depression, and the list goes on and on actually, widespread pains, numbness and tingling type of neuropathies. Some people get no reaction like that, but they still get a low-grade inflammatory response.
So when you consume gluten, it binds to the gluten receptor in the gut. And it causes the gut – the gluten causes the gut cell to produce this chemical called zonulin. And your listeners can just Google "gluten and zonulin" and see all these papers show up. They are shocking.
The gluten protein causes the gut to get leaky and allows for these antigens to come through. And the gene, the chromosome that zonulin is related to is chromosome 16, which is related to multiple different diseases like autoimmune diseases, cancer, multiple sclerosis and certain autoimmune diseases as well.
Some people can get these awful illnesses because of gluten consumption throughout their lifetime. If a rheumatologist was listening to this or maybe a neurologist, they might think this is crazy. But it is well documented actually. The problem is that it is not like you sprain your ankle and it hurts. You do not eat a bagel and get neuropathy. It takes time. You do not eat a bagel and go, "God, I got rheumatoid arthritis today. How did it happen? I just did it yesterday." It takes several decades for the body to really transform. The body literally transforms from a normal humanoid state, (there are very few of those left, by the way) into an inflamed human that is disposed to multiple diseases. And gluten pushes that because it initiates an immune reaction. And because we keep eating gluten again, and again, and again, we keep pushing the reaction.
Chris Martenson: All right, so let me get back to my bell curve of humans. Is this just some people are sensitive to gluten? Because I know some people, when they eat gluten they get flat out sick. So they get that instant cause and effect response that allows them to tie it and say, "Wow that is bad. I am not going to do that." I would not purposely sprain my ankle every day, so they are on it. Or would you say that this is something where everybody has a response or a reaction to it, it is just some are subclinical and do not present but that there is always some inflammation going on?
David Seaman: Everybody is going to have an immune response to it. The immune cells release this cytokine called interleukin 15 in everybody. So everybody reacts to it, but not everybody gets symptoms from it.
Now with that being said, if you look at gluten, which comes in wheat – it is really interesting, just for fun, do you know what gluten protein's name is?
Chris Martenson: No, I do not.
David Seaman: It is spelled S-E-I-T-A-N.
Chris Martenson: Satan?
David Seaman: There you go. You said it right. Here is how they say it in the health store, "No, it is called 'say tan,'" really. That is like me saying, "My name is 'Se a man.'" My name is "Seaman." You can imagine the jokes I've had to deal with, right?
Chris Martenson: I can imagine.
David Seaman: "No, my name is Se a man." So it is called seitan. So gluten is Satan. I think that is kind of humorous. So where do we get gluten from? We get it from wheat, rye, and barley. And if you look at the nutritional profile of wheat, rye, and barley compared to vegetables, it is a disaster. People will say, "Oh, but you get good fiber there." No, you get almost no fiber compared to vegetation on a caloric basis. And what we also get almost none of in our grains, across the board, which includes the gluten grains, is potassium. And potassium is a very important mineral that has gone from – in our Paleolithic days we consumed up to 10,000 milligrams per day, now we are 2,000. That is a violent – when I say violent, I am exaggerating. It leads to progressively more robust, low-grade inflammatory processes that eventually lead to stroke, heart disease, or whatever it might be.
Chris Martenson: So this sounds like – obviously diet plays a very important role in either promoting or suppressing inflammation. This all sounds very complex. Are there are simple rules for eating then? Is this the Paleo diet? Does that make sense? We have seen all these diets come and go, right? The ketogenic diets. You have got your Atkins and what nots and other diets where people are going pure vegan. What do you think is, in your experience and what you have seen, what is a middle path? Where is a place for somebody to start on thinking about how to go about eating now?
David Seaman: Well I think that people need to sit down and have a chat with themselves in their brain.
Chris Martenson: Yep.
David Seaman: They need to sit down and say okay, "last night..." – because, a lot of people will not eat dessert or not overeat on the previous night. They do not wake up going, "God, I wish I would have eaten more last night. I should have that third – I should have eaten three pieces of pie as opposed to none." So people have to have talks to themselves about their behavior. That is the most important thing. So we need to look at this from a non-emotional perspective. And what they should do is get some blood work done, look at their body waist measurements. Get these measurements and find out. If they wanted, they could just Google my name – "David Seaman, BMI, pain." The first paper to appear, they click on it. They can go through the paper and they can see an entire checklist of things to look at it and bring that to their physicians. They want to get normal.
What they should do is say, "I want to be a normal human. How do I do this? Well sugar, flour, wheat, and all the rest of that stuff is not going to get me normal. So what is going to get me normal?" What did we eat historically? And I would say the Paleo diet – but I do not like naming diets based upon a guy’s last name; "Atkins diet," that is kind of dumb. I do not mean dumb – "What does it mean?" "It means this guy eats a lot of fat," and it confuses people. The idea should be to eat healthy, anti-inflammatory foods. And that means, to the best of our ability, lean proteins. And that could mean fish, chicken across the board. And fatty fish are fine because they are actually rich with Omega 3. Eggs are great. I would go with Omega 3 eggs. So stick with those healthy proteins, and then lots of vegetation. And that means green vegetables, more green vegetables, and then fruits. The best fruits are really berries. And then if you are still hungry, for a snack have a small, small handful of nuts and a lot of water. And avoid sugar, flour, Omega 6, and the trans fats.
That diet that I just described will actually push you into ketosis. Now the ketogenic diet – the problem with that is that they made it like, "drink – eat butter, drink cream, and just eat bacon." That is crazy. Humans never did that. You get into slight ketosis doing what I just described.
The goal should be to get to be at least 80 percent healthy in terms of your choices. So it would be lean meats, fish, chicken, et cetera, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and then very small amounts of whole grains and legumes.
Chris Martenson: That sounds like obviously very good advice. And I was talking with an herbalist, a long practicing herbalist, and his tag line was that health begins in the kitchen. And one of the things that he recommended that people start to do is to bring more of the capsaicin and turmeric related spices in because those were anti-inflammatory. That if you looked at places where people’s diets were rich in those spices, culturally speaking or geographically, that you would see certain disease markers had lower incidences. So are those actually anti-inflammatories in your mind? And is that good advice too?
David Seaman: Yes, and thank you for bringing that up because that is the other big thing. Spice the meals like – spice everything. Spice everything as much as you can take is the best way to do it. Every morning – well not every morning, but most days I will either make a vegetable juice or I will do huge pieces of ginger rolled to a blender kind of – I forget what they are called.
Chris Martenson: Juicer?
David Seaman: Not a juicer, but it is a blending thing. But I forget what it is called.
Chris Martenson: VitaMix?
David Seaman: It is NutriBullet. VitaMix is fine. I broke my NutriBullet because I put too much kale in there. I use a Ninja, which has blades. So I put raw kale, big chunks of ginger, entire lemons and limes and blend the whole thing up to get all those bioflavonoids. Now the reason for ginger is it's highly anti-inflammatory, turmeric, all your spices around the world are highly anti-inflammatory. So people should spice as much as they want. Now let us assume that they have – they are not on a drug like Coumadin, which is a blood thinner. If you are on multiple medications – it is kind of sad Chris, but if you are on multiple medications, you need to talk to your medical doctor to see if getting healthy is safe for you.
Chris Martenson: Oh gosh, that is kind of sad, but good advice obviously. I mean there can be a lot of contraindications and side effects. And who knows what happens there. Yeah, but for people who – I think that this is just fantastic. What rings true from here is this idea of just getting normal again, because the more – as a past scientist just studying how complex the body is and looking at the ability that our body can tell Self from Not Self is such an extraordinary feat of engineering that if it goes a little haywire, I am totally okay with that. The idea here though is to not be poking at it, prodding it, and forcing it to go haywire when it does not have to because it is extraordinarily good with what our immune system can do. But it is a very finely tuned system. So you do not want it to be doing inappropriate things. Autoimmune diseases are among the worst things I know about because there is no escaping yourself in that story. So that all makes perfect sense to me.
Your website is deflame.com. But we mentioned before, you have a new book coming out. When is it coming out? And who would benefit from it?
David Seaman: Well it is to be written for the general public. It will be somewhat challenging, I guess, to get through in certain parts. And I say that only because people get confused with what is good to take. "Should I take this for that or should I take that for this?" That is a real problem. You do not take something for a condition that is caused by an underlying chronic inflammatory state. So it will be very educational. And it will have chemistry in there. But it will be explained in a way that will make sense.
It will be written for a layman. It will be written for high school graduates. College graduates will probably do best with it. And my goal is to have it out – I am about two-thirds of the way through it. I am really working hard to get it done so hopefully two months – three months max.
Chris Martenson: Well fantastic. We will look forward to that. And of course, we will announce it. You will let us know and we will announce it on our site to our listeners because this is a really important topic. And the more I delve into this, the more I realize health does begin with what you eat and that our bodies are tuned for health. That is their normal condition. But we are not doing that normal condition much favors with the types of things we have been putting in there. And of course, we are learning more and more about this. And, we do not have time for it, but the other part I would love to maybe later on connect with you is the idea of how our gut flora and that whole balance is really, really essential to our health – that I am not Chris The Human, I am Chris The Human plus 100 trillion other things, and we live in balance. And there is a symphony there. And if that symphony becomes discordant or very much out of balance, that that itself can become a real impactor of my condition, health, and sense of well-being and all of that. And I am sure diet plays a huge role in keeping that balance going as well.
So I would love to talk to you. Just real quickly, so I know, is that a part of the story that you have been looking into?
David Seaman: Absolutely.
Chris Martenson: Oh yeah, so, we do not have time for that. But we are going to. So let us bookmark that and have that conversation because that seems to be just an extraordinary new field that is just opening up. So again, reminding us as humans, there is a whole lot we know, a lot we do not know, and there is a whole lot we ought to know because the data is there and the observations are there. We are just not taking advantage of them in many cases. So with that David, thank you so much for your time today.
David Seaman: Oh, well thanks for having me on. It was great to do it.