The Best Inflammation Analogy. Ever

Inflammation is THE cause of your problem.  I don’t even know what you specifically have but whatever you have, I’ll take the over-bet that there is an inflammatory component.

Let’s start with basics. Think about a Sprained Ankle Injury, we’ve all had this.

It’s Easy to understand that that “hot ankle” is inflamed.

The analogy I’m using to make this the easiest physiology lesson ever is… a “Boy Scout Campfire.” The fire is your injury. The Campers are your body’s way of keeping it in check. Basically, the way your brain controls the ankle injury…

The Scout master telling Troop 949, “Pour some water on that fire, campers! – it’s too damn hot for S’mores.” = the Brain, telling the body, “Lets get some control, healing doesn’t start if the inflammation is out of control.”

OK, how about deeper stuff – let’s say high school level learning, things like osteo and rheumatoid arthritis?   Psoriatic, Lupus, and all the others. How about Bursitis and Tendinitis?

Arthritis and any itisis are exactly this – simple, straight-up inflammation.   “ itis “ is nothing more than the medical 50 cent word for inflammation.   Add “arthro”, meaning joint, “burs” meaning bursa, or “tendon” meaning tendon in the front of it and you have the modern-day-Latin for your condition.  This is great news!

Dude, you don’t have the disease arthritis, you have an inflamed joint. (arthro-itis)

Diving deeper – Next we’re going to move to the grad school level, where the cutting edge research and the lecture circuit on inflammation is happening. 

In Modern research it’s looking like most issues, (think ALL ), have a major inflammatory component. Things like Alzheimer’s, Type 1 and II diabetes and even ADHD and cancer.   Pretty much every and all Autoimmune diseases to name a few…dozens.

Hopefully I have your attention!

Well maybe that’s just not your thing – all this science on chronic disease and stuff… Not interested. that’s Ok, I can always cook up other issues that have inflammation as a huge part of their processes. hmmm, how about…

a fat ass?  

Now we’re talking. Wake up!

Yep, it’s a component in the last 10 pounds keeping you from being ripped and the freshman 50 you may have accidentally put on and can’t seem to take off.  

See?  It’s a part of everything and it affects everyone.

So let’s get to that fat belly –

“Chad, you’re telling me it’s the inflammation NOT the triple bacon mac cheeseburger chocolate ice cream diet coke float”

Yes!  Well sort of.  

Your diet is the culprit, causing the inflammation. Your gut isn’t working right because of all the crappy food choices (even a lot you were told were smart choices) and now you can’t even get the good Foods in. If too much bad Food keeps coming in, your body is basically redirecting a river in an effort to put out a raging campfire.  That extra water is “the bloat.”

Your body is repeatedly using a river to put out a kid’s tiny campfire. Over and over again, the camping kids build a fire up and the river puts it out.   Eventually someone up in command central just says ”forget it” and decides to use napalm to just strip and defoliate the entire campsite so no-one can camp here anymore and the area will just get a chance to reset and return to a baseline – it will never be the 100 year old woods again with the incredible variety of flora and fauna that took decades to establish because of all the campfires and rivers running the wrong way and brush fires and most of the logs have been used up.  BUT, with a complete reset, in time, it will become beautiful and quite functional again. It could even thrive again!

But day in and day out little campers keep showing up with minivans full of wood and kindling and these little buggers keep setting up these damn campfires all over the scorched earth. They are relentless! Who the heck keeps showing up to camp on a napalmed apocalyptic campsite? That’s insane. Anyone can see it’s been destroyed and isn’t functioning like a campsite.

Still, they just keep showing up. And it’s not just on weekends anymore either. There is a line of campers and more minivans waiting to get in!

Yes – it seems inflammatory conditions are becoming serious business for doctors and consequently for the drug and supplement suppliers working to help.

The world is rushing to find new treatments, drugs, food products, diet books, oils, creams, shakes, and exercise programs to try and treat your inflammatory conditions, and overall they are doing pretty good. There’s been a lot of progress in all these categories.

Then why do we all as a society just keep getting worse?!

Back to the analogy. I think everyone – doctors, drug companies, presidents, authors, me, nutritionists etc – we’re all missing something. We’re basically firefighters trying to control the burn with:

NSAIDS

Steroids (Saids)

Omegas fatty acids

Ice

Cherry juice (think gout and other metabolic issues)

Active ROM exercises

Glucosamine chondroitin etc.

Designer drugs built to target individual issues.

Exercise (think to reduce arthritic conditions and create lubrication etc.)

Chiro’s, massage therapists, psychologists, MD’s, dietitians, etc.

How about WD40 (true story) and

Olive Oil, because that’s what Jesus used! (also, true story.)

The last two I heard this week from patients!

Anyway – there’s this list…a handful collection of things you TAKE to blunt the Inflammation complex.

We’ve all tried many of these for sure. They work.

Back to the campfire.

For this example let’s use a classic treatment –  an NSAID such as over-the-counter ibuprofen or naproxen. These are like bringing a 20 oz water bottle to the fire.   Pour it right on those hot coals and “wa-la,” it helps – the fire fizzles out on that log and the flames are reduced.

But given time, the fire will return, even that log we just doused, because fire is hot.  This is my idea of why, if you take an anti-inflammatory only once, only when it hurts, you’re missing a better treatment window. The fire has time and re-flames.

This kind of treatment, via creams and pills tends to work better if they are used 2-3 times a day. It’s like constantly pouring the water on and makes for a better effect.

It’s not the best situation but man, sometimes even a little bit of taking the edge off is worth it. I’m not telling you to take stuff, I’m simply explaining that people do and will take stuff. Million of pills per year.

But now, what if you keep doing dumb stuff such as a hot tub, hot shower, car seat heaters or a long deep stretch?

That brings more blood to the area, which feels good initially because blood is like that, but 20 minutes later BAM! The body is inflamed, the fire is stoked and the alarms go off!

You just went PRO Inflammatory, not ANTI Inflammatory.

This is the same lecture I always do. I’ve got that scenario mentioned on this site and my clinic’s site a dozen different ways because I hear it, pretty much each hour of the day. “I took two ibuprofen and drove to work with my car seat heater on.” “I took a thirty minute hot shower and then rubbed CBD oil on.”

But let’s dive deeper here because this is SportsDocDC and we enjoy getting smarter every day with easy analogies.

What if you like eating sugars and carbs or foods you’re reactive to? That’s every bit as detrimental to inflammation.

That’s like throwing kindling on the fire! “Wow! Look at that! It just flared back up, bigger than before?! It’s Beautiful Clark!”

Oh, it’s OK you say? You’re eating 5-6 small meals per day? Great, you just threw a pack of fireworks on that campfire.

In fact – depending on what you eat or do at home, you could just be adding perfectly cured hickory logs to your fire and man, those babies burn fantastically…long and hot.    As in, “My knee has hurt for 2 weeks” or the all time classic, “My arthritis has Flared Up!”

Yep.   Truly, It has.

This goes for every itis and complex previously mentioned. The initial plan was to make the campfire smaller and less heat, less inflammation. What can we take or do to lessen the burn?

Just for a minute, let’s pause and look at this from a different angle. This was brought to my attention today, blew my mind, and gave me a concise fifth grader’s understanding of body works.

What if it’s not what you INGEST and ADD but instead what you ELIMINATE from the fire as the treatment?

Remove…not add.

What I’m suggesting is, “What if we just pulled the logs out of the campfire?”

Look, I know this stuff is deep but your body is constantly taking in stuff. Good stuff and Bad stuff and often good stuff that for whatever reason, is now being attacked by the body, as if it’s bad.  It’s confusing…I know.

But this time I’m speaking literally. “Your body is confused.”

example:

Eggs are typically pretty good for you, the protein and fats make it one of nature’s perfect food.

The proteins, of course, should be all ground up in your guts into tiny amino acids before they get into the blood.

Let’s say I had pneumonia a few weeks ago and had to take antibiotics for a two weeks session and now my gut bacteria is basically gone and the proteins are now not “ground up properly” and some of these full proteins get through the gut wall and directly into the blood system.

Well, what happens is that all the magic in the blood senses these proteins as foreign invaders and starts the attack. It’s trying to keep you healthy and preserved.   Now, over time, with the day by day egg proteins sneaking into my system, the body needs bigger reinforcements and actually makes antibodies for these proteins and just basically says “eggs are bad, they’re invaders!” and the attack continues on and on to the point that the guts may even begin to implement early warning air raid sirens when eggs are introduced.

Now, the eggs that are supposedly good for you, just aren’t anymore. They are the kids campfire out of control and the body sends the flooding river to quelch the problem.

Now multiply this by…every day because damn dude, you love yourself some eggs in the morning, and multiply that by the other 100’s of proteins that over the last decade the body has made a defense system for and you can see how it seems like we’re over “reactive” to damn near everything.

It’s because in reality we most like ARE!

This is why our sprained ankle still hurts and seems to never be healing, why our knees are always sore and why you run to the bathroom like you’ve got dysentery every time you have your morning coffee.

I think “Chronic inflammation” is a bigger player in aging, than your birthdays.

You’re not getting older, your body is starting to reject more and more stuff and eventually gets confused about all the proteins such as those in joint tissue, skin, hair, etc. This is the definition of Autoimmune disease – the body is attacking itself.

One more thought. It’s now pretty much known that long-term anti-inflammatory use such as NSAIDS and sometimes even short-term use directly affect and in essence punches holes into the gut wall allowing for these food particles to be attacked. The very ammo we were using for short-term inflammation control now allows for more long-term and chronic inflammation. AGH! It’s like you can’t win.

But you can! It takes work, patience, being true to yourself and could take outside help- blood work, functional medicine, fasting…but you can treat the entire body.

Anti-inflammation diets are all the rage in the NFL . It’s not a mystery.

Yes, an anti Inflammation diet is tough. It’s a big step. Fasting, to repair the guts and reset hormones is a daunting task if you’re two decades into pizza and a six-pack per day. It will be hard and it’s mind-numbing because it just goes so deep – It can go Way deeper on this guys – (see Lectin article) but this is a good start.     

I also think we, especially you American Humans, need a reset sometimes and I feel this is a HUGE reason why keto/paleo and intermittent fasting work so well. The food choices are just fewer. Fewer things to be reactive to and consequently, less of an inflammation cascade.

I think this is why the body feels so incredible during a true fast (after a bit of hunger discomfort) and why so many in Functional Health, the guys that actually care about healing and causes, suggest fasting, diet resets and cleanses for everything from acne to fat loss to cancer treatments.

Conversely, it’s the reason Why there are so many misconceptions and poor advice. It’s why simple advice like, “go Gluten-Free” just doesn’t come close to covering it and actually is most likely leading you down the wrong rabbit hole.

It’s also why I can’t offer you an easy fix and it takes a 10-minute silly article to explain. This stuff is deep, and personal and there is a multi-prong approach that is totally doable but tough if you don’t have a reason.

It’s why I can get away with having a beer and pizza once in a while but my brother can’t walk the next day if he does the same. He is incredibly reactive with rheumatoid.  

But, it’s also why, the same brother knows he is playing a different game than me with different stakes and doesn’t want the pizza and beer, he wants to feel good.   Because he understands and makes proper decisions.

And really, over time, the foods that the body attacks can be reintroduced and most likely he’ll be fine.

Again, I don’t have a solution for all of you but I would like to call a wake up and shout out to look at eliminating the cause vs adding more treatments and buffers. Cause vs treatment vs elimination. It’s not a two player game. Camp Fires vs. Forest Fires vs Raging Infernos.

Remove the logs. Heck, remove the entire fire pit and camp site. Plant a garden of wonderfulness there instead and reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

As Dr. Steven Gundry of the “Plant Paradox” says, “What you DON’T eat is more important than what you Do eat.”

All these crazy guys eating and preaching ideas like this are actually the leaders in the next change in the diet revolution. These guys are attacked as nuts, New age, and hippies but they will go down in history as the innovators. Researching and understanding the inner workings of our body and responses to what we put in it.

We have come a long way from the Calories in/Calories out era. Get a modern take on a your health.

3 thoughts on “The Best Inflammation Analogy. Ever

    1. I have heard some of that as well. I think more research on this kind of stuff has been done by Dr. William Li and is reported incredibly well in his book, “Eat to beat Disease.” There is done mention of citrus, but more evidence on berry juices.
      Just something to
      Play around with on your own and check. Tim Ferris and others have found orange juice really inhibits fat loss when cutting though. You just need to find out what works for you.

      Awareness is the biggest step. Let me know what you find out

      Like

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