About Mike Mahler
Today I’m honored to bring you an interview with internationally recognized strength trainer, kettlebell instructor and nutrition expert, Mike Mahler. Mike has always been an inspiration to me. He is deeply knowledgeable about all facets of fitness and is a superb teacher, having the ability to synthesize complicated scientific concepts into logical and actionable strategies for health.
Mike Mahler has taught numerous strength and conditioning workshops and seminars around the world, most recently focusing on nutrition and lifestyle strategies for hormone optimization and combating systemic inflammation. Mike has published hundreds of articles on training and nutrition and is the creator of several DVDs including Advanced Kettlebell Training and Hormone Optimization.
I’ve asked Mike to share his knowledge of systemic inflammation, its effects on physical aches and pains and its correlation with aging.
Without further ado…
What is systemic inflammation, what causes it and why should we be concerned about it?
Inflammation is the result of an immune response to irritation, infection, or injury. When we are under stress, eat the wrong foods, workout too much, fail to get enough deep sleep and restoration, we develop a high level of inflammation that the immune system has a hard time keeping at bay. As a result, we develop GI tract issues such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), joint pain, muscle pain, and ultimately serious diseases as the immune system becomes very week after years and years of fighting inflammation and no longer functions adequately. The immune system can even become confused and attack healthy tissue and this is what autoimmune diseases are such as arthritis are.
Many people have high inflammation due to too much Omega 6 consumption and not enough Omega 3. Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory and ramps up levels of AA (arachidonic acid). Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory and ramps of levels of ALA (alpha linolenic acid). According to essential fatty acid expert, Udo Erasmus you want a 2:1 ratio of Omega 3 to 6. This is especially important for people that are already experiencing the negatives of too much inflammation.
Lowering excess inflammation makes you more disease proof to cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, arthritis and IBS. I am not going to say that you will never get these diseases if you address inflammation but it definitely stacks the odds in your favor.
How can you tell if you have systemic inflammation that is out of control?
Some signs of high levels of inflammation include joint pain, muscle pain, GI tract issues, and low energy. You can also do a blood test for HS (highly sensitive) c-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is a measurement of inflammation.
I know you’re a huge proponent of hormone optimization. Is there a connection between hormone levels and systemic inflammation?
When inflammation goes up, the body has an immune response to lower it by increasing cortisol levels, as cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone. The hormonal pathway goes from the master sex hormone Pregnenelone to cortisol instead of the ultimate stress management hormone DHEA and you are left with much lower levels of DHEA, androstendione, testosterone, and progesterone. Thus lowering inflammation is critical for hormone optimization. DHEA in particular is a potent anti-inflammation hormone and one that is depleted when we are under long-term stress.
What role does systemic inflammation play in physical aches and pains (back pain, neck pain, stiff, tight muscles, etc) commonly referred to as “aging?”
It plays a big role and generally constant pain in one area is a sign of high levels of systemic inflammation. Lowering high levels of inflammation overall well help with pain that seems isolated such as elbow pain and knee pain. A high level of inflammation is a sign that we are out of balance and need to address it. Stress management or even better stress eradication is a must in addressing high levels of inflammation.
What other physical ailments and diseases are correlated to systemic inflammation?
I think every ailment and disease can be correlated to high levels of inflammation. When we have inflammation that is out of control we are much more disease prone. Heart disease, asthma, arthritis, you name it. Inflammation is definitely a factor.
What foods combat inflammation? Which foods make it worse?
High sugar and processed food consumption are the primary causes of inflammation. I firmly believe that sugar plays the biggest role in all diseases and is highly addictive. Sugar addiction is not much different than hardcore drug addiction as far too many people realize. Tell the average person to cut out sugar for a week and they will have some serious withdrawal symptoms before the week is up. Too much caffeine consumption also causes a lot of inflammation.
Sugar causes inflammation by prompting the hormone insulin to be elevated all the time. Insulin is not something we want high all day long. It constricts the arteries and raises blood pressure. It causes a great deal of inflammation. What we want is insulin sensitivity, which means we only have to produce a small amount to get the job done. Insulin is a critical hormone for life and without it our cells will die and us with it. The key is to keep insulin sensitivity high by eating a good amount of high quality protein, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs such as legumes, berries and many vegetables at each meal.
Taking longer stretches in between each meal such as 6-8 hours will also play a big role in keeping insulin sensitive and inflammation down. According to Byron Richards, author of The Leptin Diet, Insulin starts going down three hours after we eat. When that occurs, the hormone glucagon is released from the pancreas to pull energy from the liver and then stored body fat to keep our glucose levels stable for optimal functioning. Thus, we are essentially getting a snack on stored body fat in between each meal.
Regarding specific foods that lower inflammation that will vary with each person. This is why food sensitivity testing is important. It tells you exactly which foods are ideal for you. Why every diet ultimately fails without exception is that it cannot take you as an individual into account. Food sensitivities are food allergies in slow motion. I learned about this from my friend Dr Peter Rouse of the AF performance center in Santa Monica.
When we hear about inflammation, we typically think about taking anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen. Are there any natural anti-inflammatory supplements you’d recommend in place of these?
Yes and I have two favorites for lowering inflammation: magnesium oil and systemic enzymes.
Magnesium is critical for overall health and lowering inflammation and magnesium oil is the best source of magnesium as it by passes the GI tract and has much higher absorption. It has also been shown to ramp up the stress management hormone DHEA that I can personally attest to as it took me from low normal to high normal. Here are some key benefits of magnesium from a book called The Magnesium Miracle
- Helps lower cortisol levels. Magnesium Oil helps drive up DHEA, which is a potent anti-inflammatory hormone.
- Lowers levels of C-reactive protein. Magnesium deficiency equals higher CRP
- Inflammatory responses are much higher when magnesium deficiency is present
- People with magnesium deficiency have a hard time metabolizing inflammation fighting EFA’s.
- Magnesium helps convert the essential fatty acid GLA to anti-inflammatory DGLA.
- Magnesium deficiency causes lower activation of systemic enzymes. These enzymes are needed to eat up scar tissue, fibroids.
- Magnesium is the ultimate stress management nutrient and supports the adrenal glands that get worn out from stress
- Research shows a direct relationship between the amount of magnesium in the diet and the ability to avoid high blood pressure.
- Magnesium prevents calcium buildup in cholesterol plaque in arteries, which leads to clogged arteries.
- Magnesium is a vasodilator, opening up blood vessels
- Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant
- Magnesium is an important part of treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
- Magnesium helps detoxify toxic chemicals
- Magnesium deficiency increases insomnia
- Magnesium deficiency causes muscle weakness and fatigue
Next I love systemic enzymes and have been using them for many years after I learned about them from my friend Dr William Wong N.D. I have tried several good brands but my current favorite is Excylzym. Here is what systemic enzymes do:
- Work to lower inflammation by eating up cytokines.
- Enzymes eat scar tissue and fibrosis
- Act as blood cleansers
- Reduce the need for a large cortisol response to inflammation and thus lower cortisol as well.
- Modulate the immune system. Helps prevent an over active immune response which can cause auto immune disorders (antibodies acting its own tissues)
- Fights viruses
For more info on Excylzym, visit Mike Mahler’s website
Other supplements I like include resveratrol, curcumin, zinc, tocotrienols, and phosphatidylserine. However, Magnesium oil and systemic enzymes are by far the most powerful supplements to fight excess inflammation.
For More Information…
Find out more about Mike Mahler’s workshops, books and DVDs at www.MikeMahler.com