Inflammation is your body's natural response to an injury, pathogen or irritant.
Chronic inflammation can occur when something engages your immune system and inhibits your body's ability to shut this response off.
There are some surprising and not-so-surprising substances that create a high internal inflammatory state.
What are some of the top things should you avoid that may be increasing your inflammation?
Dr. Daniel Twogood shares specific pro-inflammatory substances and why you should be avoiding them.
RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: June 3, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD
Living longer and staying healthier. It's Healthy Talk with Dr. Michael Smith, M.D. Here's your host, Dr. Mike.
DR. MIKE: Alright. So, we are going to continue our discussion with Dr. Twogood. Focus, I guess, now a little bit on the things we can do to begin the healing process so that our chronic pain can be gone in 90 days. Dr. Daniel Twogood is a chiropractor. He has written four books and the latest one is called, Chronic Pain Gone 90 Days. Dr. Twogood, welcome to Healthy Talk.
DR. TWOGOOD: Thanks very much.
DR. MIKE: Just to summarize a little bit what we were just talking about – the chronic pain, is what you believe is really about three kinds of stress that lead to an inability to heal properly, correct? And we need to address the underlying causes to begin that healing process which takes about 90 days and that is kind of the basic message of your book, correct?
DR. TWOGOOD: That's right.
DR. MIKE: I found it interesting when I looked at your book, Dr. Twogood, you start off immediately talking about these pro-inflammatory substances that we should just avoid at all costs. Two of them I found interesting – chocolate and MSG. Why don't we talk about that first? A lot of research is showing chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is good for us. But you are saying there are some compounds in it that could cause or raise inflammation?
DR. TWOGOOD: Right, that's exactly it. In fact, it is--the foundation of my work--is very, very simple. And that is the medical approach is – and most people have a mentality in this country that if something is wrong with you like a chronic condition or blood pressure or whatever it is, there has got to be something that you can take that will heal your condition – a pill, a supplement, a drug. What specific food should I eat to be antioxidant or anti-inflammatory, etc.?
My approach is the exact opposite. Since I base my work on my belief that the human body will heal itself, it is a matter of eliminating specific pro-inflammatory substances that are feeding the inflammation. Once that happens, then the inflammation will begin healing.
So. we talk about chocolate. There is a lot of research. In fact, that is one of the biggest questions I get, "Well, what about dark chocolate? I thought it was good. All of the research says this." My research is observational or what is called anecdotal. And that is that what we do here, what I've done for many, many years is, let's try changing a few things and see what result we get.
So chocolate, the bottom line is the most powerful pro-inflammatory substance there is. Why do I say that? Because over the course of years of trying to find out what substances are causing this inflammation and eliminating them, that's what we see. Chocolate is related to the dairy protein in a way that I don't really understand but the most common cause of chronic inflammation is a protein called casein which is in milk and dairy foods – which is milk and cheese and yogurt and all of the dairy foods. That is where most fibromyalgia comes from.
That is where most arthritis comes from. It is an inflammatory reaction to that specific protein that's in milk and dairy foods. Observationally, all of the patients that I see who react to the milk protein with inflammation, psoriasis, or whatever it is, they also react to chocolate, only their reaction is worse. So, the patients who are questioning that, I say, "Okay, let's do this. Let's take you off the chocolate and whatever else I think is significant and let's see what happens." Once they recover I say, if you are really curious – and this usually happens accidently – people will have some chocolate.
And then they will come and see me and say, "I have a migraine for no apparent reason". Or, "My back flared up again, or my knee," or whatever it is. We go over everything and we find out it was their exposure to chocolate twelve hours ago. It sounds really bizarre to people but once they have seen the reaction two, three or four times, they finally realize that it is true. What I suggest in the book is that you don't have to believe my research or anybody else's research just try it on yourself.
DR. MIKE: Dr. Twogood, I think what you hit on is important here. I have talked about this before with my listeners. There are different types of research. There are different types of evidence. And like you said, there is anecdotal, observational, historical and that does have a place in medicine and how we practice medicine. It is really the art of it.
You have done exactly what we all do as scientists. You have observed what goes on in individual patients and you've come up with some ideas, some hypothesis and I think that is awesome. That is one form of medicine.
DR. TWOGOOD: Sure, and it is absolutely necessary with pain. There is no way to prove whether a patient has pain or not. There is no imaging study; there is no blood study that says, "Oh, we know you are hurting." We have to trust the patient and the patient has to tell us. So, pain is purely anecdotal. When patients come in and tell me they are hurting, I believe them.
And when they are not hurting, I believe them, too. Of course that, again, is anecdotal. I included in my book some objective studies. They are photos of a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin is psoriasis. There are pictures of a case that totally recovered from psoriasis by eliminating milk protein. That is a very objective study. That is not anecdotal.
That is the person can say they have psoriasis or don't have psoriasis, but the pictures show that before they changed their diet they did have psoriasis and after they didn't. Now, we didn't have photos following up on that, but what happened to the patient after that was they found out that every time they re-exposed themselves to casein protein their psoriasis started to come back. Again, that is objectified by the photos. But, pain is anecdotal.
We as physicians have to be trustworthy and the patients have to be trustworthy and we have to put our nose to the grindstone and figure out what is causing these cases. Whether the studies are controlled, have variables, etc. This is serious work and the anecdotes are extremely important to like you said, all of us.
DR. MIKE: I want to impress upon the listeners, Dr. Twogood, that what you are doing here, for you chronic pain is the healing process has broken down. Chronic inflammation is playing a role here. It is being fed by some of those stressors we talked about which could be some of these pro-inflammatory substances. So, in a sense you are trying to help this person to stop feeding the flames of that chronic inflammation leading to that chronic pain. What about MSG? You talk about that in your book, but I thought MSG was already pretty well-controlled and restricted. Is that not the case anymore?
DR. TWOGOOD: That is not the case and that is a common belief, what you just said. Actually, MSG is monosodium glutamate. It is a chemical flavor enhancer that is used in lots of processed foods: Chinese food, canned soup, restaurant soup, breaded food. It is all over the place. I wrote a book in 1997 about it called MSG Is Everywhere. The reason I wrote it and called it that is because MSG is everywhere. It came into the country in 1948 from Japan and its use has increased every single year.
The problem with it is that a lot of people don't believe that it has an effect on the human body, which it has a very powerful affect. There are other researchers who have seen that. But they hide it under lots of different names hydrolyzed protein, natural flavors, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, to name just a few. Processed food contains this chemical substance and not everybody has sensitivity to it. However, it is a toxic substance so if a dose is high enough, like with alcohol, then, eventually, you will have a reaction to it.
Many people are very sensitive to it with reactions like panic attacks, mood changes, migraines, swelling in the hands, mysterious bruises. These are all observational symptoms that I have seen in my practice. It is a substance that, in my mind, should be illegal. But barring that, it should at least have a warning on the package that says "this package contains MSG".
DR. MIKE: Food manufacturers are getting really good, Dr. Twogood, at taking what we know to be harmful substances and simply just changing the name. They get approval from our own government to do that. And that's where a lot of people – you don't see MSG listed on the label anymore but it comes in as a yeast extract or something like that.
Real quickly, so we eliminate some of these substances, give me your top 2 or 3 foods that you like people to eat to reduce pain.
DR. TWOGOOD: That is an approach that I don't really go into. Whole, natural foods are the solution for everything. That is what we are designed to live on. Sure there are some people who have sensitivities to some of those – strawberries, peanuts, etc.
DR. MIKE: Dr. Twogood, that was a big question for you. We'll just have to leave it there. Whole foods are the best way to go. Thank you for coming on, you did a great job.
This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.