There is a process in the body that is now believed by medical experts to be involved in all known disease processes from heart disease to cancer to Alzheimer’s disease – this process is inflammation. Most of you will have experienced inflammation before. Have you ever got a splinter in your finger? It got red and swollen, it may have bled a little and it was certainly hot and painful – all the classic signs of inflammation. Now inflammation is actually a normal response to an injury like this and it serves us well. It helps to kill bacteria, parasites and viruses that try to invade us and this inflammation keeps us healthy. This type of inflammation usually demonstrates a 100 fold increase in immune system markers, such as white blood cells and cytokines like IL-6, TNF alpha, or C reactive protein (CRP).
However there is another, darker inflammatory response that happens in the body – what Dr Barry Sears calls “Silent Inflammation”. This type of inflammation doesn’t elicit the pain, swelling, redness and heat associated with classic inflammation and may only demonstrate a 4-5 fold increase in immune system markers – so can often be hard to detect. It can take years or even decades to develop and slowly but surely damages DNA and leads to disease. Unfortunately modern medicine is not very good at treating this type of silent inflammation. It is the result of poor lifestyle choices and changing lifestyle and nutrition is a much better tactic than using anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Over nutrition
- Excess alcohol
- Poor diet
- Poor sleep
- Stress / depression
- Drug use
One of the primary sources of silent inflammation in the body is excess body fat. Fat is not just an unsightly inert substance that sits on your love handles or muffin top. It does not just serve as a reservoir of energy to be called upon when needed for energy. Fat is metabolic tissue that can cause all manner of things to happen in your body. Fat cells become infiltrated with high levels of immune cells that release inflammatory chemicals disrupting the uptake of sugar and burning of fat in liver cells contributing to insulin resistance, the onset of type 2 diabetes and narrowing arteries. Fat cells release chemicals that clot your blood, increase your blood pressure and convert inactive stress hormones into active stress hormones and contribute to conditions such as hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease and PCOS.
(Take home point – lose body fat)
Here is a short inflammation questionnaire developed by Dr Barry Sears
- Are you overweight?
- Are you taking cholesterol medication?
- Are you taking blood pressure medications?
- Do you wake feeling groggy each day?
- Do you get carbohydrate cravings?
- Do you suffer from fatigue?
- Do you have brittle nails?
If you answered YES to 3 or more questions you are likely suffering from Silent Inflammation. In the following blog posts this weak I’m going to discus inflammation as the course for heart attacks (not cholesterol), inflammation and blood pressure, inflammation and cancer and inflammation and diabetes. I’ll also discuss how to reduce inflammation through good nutrition, Stay posted.
This article was brought to you by Steve Hines who is a leading nutritionist in Clapham. Steve runs a company called the Front Line of Nutrition which deals with all types of nutritional needs. Contact Steve at his website.