What if all chronic disease – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and age-related cognitive decline – were rooted in one thing? A concept like this just might flip everything we know about medicine on its head.
And it’s true.
Systemic inflammation is the common link between all of these conditions and more. And the craziest part? Inflammation totally preventable.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s innate response to injury, stress, or illness.
Poor gut function or eating a processed, high-toxin, high-sugar diet can induce an inflammatory response. Certain medications and environmental toxins aren’t doing you any favors either. When the stress response from crappy food and a toxic environment becomes the norm for your body, inflammation becomes a low-level feature in your physiology and problems arise.
When I was fat, tired, and suffering from cognitive decline, low-level systemic inflammation was at the root of all of it. When I changed my diet and started managing my stress, the weight started to fall off and my performance shot through the roof.
A lot of that had to do with adding nutrient-dense foods to my diet.
Clever but ill-informed marketers will name almost any unusual food a “superfood.” A popular book puts soy, oats, and beans on the super foods list. Give me a break. Goji berries? Did you know they are actually in the nightshade family like tomatoes and can cause inflammation in a large percentage of people?
The truth of the matter is that real superfoods have science behind them and when you eat them, you can feel a difference quickly.
In particular, there are a few foods that take your focus and energy to new levels, all while increasing cognitive function and lowering inflammation. Some of my favorites include butter, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. I know, it sounds too good to be true, but this is real.
Before you think about any food’s anti-inflammatory properties, keep in mind we are talking about high-quality food. In The Bulletproof Diet, you’ll learn that the quality of your food is so much more important than how many calories you consume.
The higher the quality, the more nutrition that food provides and your body will respond in kind, revving up its fat burning capabilities and naturally regulating your caloric intake.
Lower quality foods often have toxins or inflammatory agents in them, which initiates an inflammatory response in your body.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite superfoods – all Bulletproof Diet-approved and damn delicious.
Bulletproof Coffee is a perfect way to ignite your focus in the morning. Due to its antioxidant and caffeine content, and the fact that it contains two unique and potent neurological agents, you can keep a steady focus. Caffeine is more than an energy booster – caffeine may help ease cognitive decline and block inflammation in the brain.(19)
Another study came to similar conclusions. According to Professor Gregory Freund from the University of Illinois “We have discovered a novel signal that activates… brain-based inflammation…and caffeine appears to block its activity.”(9)
Along with fighting cognitive diseases, caffeine and coffee increase insulin sensitivity in healthy humans.(7, 11-13) Insulin sensitivity is correlated with how well your body responds to certain kinds of inflammation.
Coffee is the world’s number one source of antioxidants, and for this reason it is a staple in the Bulletproof Diet. The problem is that 91.7% of coffee beans (from South America in the study) contain mold toxins and 50% of coffees brewed contain toxins, which induces an inflammatory response.(20-21) If you want to upgrade your cognitive performance, Upgraded Coffee, tested for mold toxins, is the only way to go.
Drinking the right coffee has short and long-term effects on your brain. The short-term effect of coffee on mood may be due to altered serotonin and dopamine activity, whereas the mechanisms behind its potential long-term effects on mood may relate to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.(22-25)
Butter is an unexpected source of cognitive enhancement, and contains one ingredient that studies show is beneficial for cognitive function and gut health called butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain saturated fat and anti-inflammatory. According to three studies, the most common class of genetic neurodegenerative diseases are delayed in mice with the treatment of butyrate.(1-3)
Butyrate protects against intestinal permeability in rat models of ulcerative colitis.(4) This shows that short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, play an important role in the maintenance of gut barrier integrity. Butyrate also sharply reduces the harmful effects of type 1 diabetes in rats.(5)
Butyrate may also prevent and treat diet-induced insulin resistance in mice. Butyrate is related to promotion of energy expenditure and induction of mitochondria function.(6)
The highest concentration of butyrate may be found in high quality grass-fed butter. I highlight the benefits of grass-fed butter in comparison to grain-fed butter in this infographic. Kerrygold is my butter of choice, but any brand may suffice as long as it is grass-fed (organic isn’t enough and is typically a sham if the cows eat organic soy and corn).
Vanilla and chocolate
Vanilla is a great food to add into your diet if you are looking for a cognitive boost. Vanilloids found in vanilla can help maintain healthy levels of inflamation, and are a great add-in for coffee or dessert.(14-16)
Chocolate, along with coffee, is very high in antioxidants and contains toxins if not processed and stored delicately. This is another food that it is vital to get in high quality and at a cacao content of at least 70% in order to reap the benefits. Chocolate favorably alters eicosanoid synthesis, which inhibits vascular and inflammatory processes.(17)
Coffee, Butter, Vanilla, and Chocolate are ideal foods for people looking to get an edge in the workplace. These foods fight unneeded inflammation and turn your brain into an upgraded machine. They are also the core ingredients of almost all truly excellent desserts. 🙂
Now this is the part of the post where I am supposed to convince you to get the obsessively produced stuff at UpgradedSelf.com, but that is not what I want you to do. Instead, challenge yourself to completely avoid high-sugar, bad-fat, high-processed foods for a week as you pay extra attention to your cognitive function. Then, if you want an added boost, add Upgraded products back in, and feel the difference. Want to quantify it? Design your own experiment and share it in the comments below.
If you are like most people, you will be sharper in the workplace and more efficient at what you do. Not only that, you will have more STEADY energy and will not feel as hungry as you would eating low quality food. By avoiding inflammatory foods now, you will begin to make your mind and body bulletproof.
If you have any questions about inflammatory foods, or a story to share about inflammation please add it in the comments below or post them in our Bulletproof Forum. There are many smart Bulletproof Practitioners there that may answer any of your questions.
Click to read the complete list of references.
1. Ferrante RJ, Kubilus JK, Lee J, Ryu H, Beesen A, Zucker B, Smith K, Kowall NW, Ratan RR, Luthi-Carter R, Hersch SM. Histone deacetylase inhibition by sodium butyrate chemotherapy ameliorates the neurodegenerative phenotype in Huntington’s disease mice.J Neurosci. 2003 Oct 15;23(28):9418-27. PubMed PMID: 14561870.
2. Ying M, Xu R, Wu X, Zhu H, Zhuang Y, Han M, Xu T. Sodium butyrate ameliorates histone hypoacetylation and neurodegenerative phenotypes in a mouse model for DRPLA. J Biol Chem. 2006 May 5;281(18):12580-6. Epub 2005 Dec 28. PubMed PMID: 16407196.
3. Minamiyama M, Katsuno M, Adachi H, Waza M, Sang C, Kobayashi Y, Tanaka F, Doyu M, Inukai A, Sobue G. Sodium butyrate ameliorates phenotypic expression in a transgenic mouse model of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy. Hum Mol Genet. 2004 Jun 1;13(11):1183-92. Epub 2004 Apr 21. PubMed PMID: 15102712.
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5. Zhanguo Gao, Jun Yin, Jin Zhang, Robert E. Ward, Roy J. Martin, Michael Lefevre, William T. Cefalu and Jianping Ye. Butyrate Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Increases Energy Expenditure in Mice. Diabetes 2009 July
Antioxidant and Gene Regulation Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, Louisiana;
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