Inflammation is one of the biggest, yet most preventable health threats of our time. I call it the “silent inferno.” It slowly simmers, destroying cells and, eventually, your health.
Not all inflammation is dangerous. In situations where you hurt or injure yourself, inflammation is actually your body’s first line of defense against infection.
Consider a common injury—a paper cut or knick from shaving, for instance. Within seconds, your body jumps into action. First, blood vessels dilate, allowing infection-fighting white blood cells to flood the area to attack germs and other harmful bacteria. At the same time, the increased blood flow to the area encourages faster healing of the damaged tissue.
For as long as the injury is open, exposing your inner body to potential infection, the inflammation will remain. But once it’s healed, the inflammation dies down and goes away. Really, it’s an amazing, life-saving immune response, and we simply can’t survive even the smallest injuries without it.
A similar response is initiated when you catch a cold, influenza, strep throat, or some other virus or bacteria. Your body deploys white blood cells to fight off the harmful invaders, and you feel it in the form of fever, body aches, and congestion or puffiness. It’s certainly miserable while it lasts, but the whole process serves an important purpose—to get you healthy again.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is anything but healing.
With chronic inflammation, the body initiates a similar response, but it continues indefinitely. Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation isn’t localized. It isn’t just your paper cut, or infected throat, that are swollen and inflamed, but nearly every cell in your body.
This type of inflammation is usually caused by lifestyle. By and large, we’re a stressed-out, overtaxed society that eats poorly and doesn’t get nearly enough sleep or exercise. When we’re young and resilient, poor lifestyle habits don’t seem to affect us much. But by midlife, our “warranty” expires, so to speak. A lifetime of poor habits catches up to us, in the form of chronic, low-grade inflammation.
If not controlled, this internal inferno often leads to disease. Inflammation is the root of all “itis” conditions—arthritis, hepatitis, bursitis, thyroiditis, gastritis, gingivitis, etc. It is also a known cause of some of our most serious and most debilitating diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s, to name a few.
If you’ve gotten to the point where your doctor diagnoses you with one of these inflammatory conditions, then you already know that you’ve fallen victim to this dangerous fire inside your body.
But here’s the thing…if you really pay attention, your body often gives you clues that this internal attack is taking place. If you take those signs seriously, you can put a stop to the inflammation before it has a chance to really cause health problems.
7 Signs of Inflammation
- Here are some of the main clues that you could be dealing with chronic inflammation…
- Joint pain. If you have constantly aching joints, it is a sure sign that you have inflammation in your body. Inflammatory chemicals called cytokines are responsible for the pain and stiffness you feel in your joints.
- Puffiness. Constant puffiness in your face, under your eyes, or in your legs and ankles could signal inflammation throughout the rest of your body.
- Skin problems, such as redness, itchiness, or blotchiness, or conditions like eczema or psoriasis, could be external signs of internal inflammation.
- Belly fat. Abdominal fat is known to churn out inflammatory compounds. Fat cells actually produce many of the same chemicals that your immune system pumps out when it is trying to fight off an infection. The greater your waist circumference (or your overall weight), the more of these inflammatory compounds your body produces on a 24/7 basis. Not only does this cause body-wide inflammation, but also insulin resistance—which increases risk for diabetes and heart problems as well.
- Digestive problems. If you have continuous gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, odorous stool, or constipation, it could be a sign that your intestines have become too permeable—a condition often called “leaky gut syndrome.” Permeable intestines allow toxins that reside in the gut to leak into the bloodstream. This is a major cause of systemic inflammation.
- Allergies or long-term infections. Allergies are the result of your body’s overblown immune response to harmless substances such as pollen, grass, certain foods, dust, dander, etc. If you suffer from allergies, you know the inflammatory reaction all too well—puffy, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, etc. And chronic infections from viruses that linger in the body long term—such as hepatitis, Lyme disease, herpes, and some parasites—place a lot of strain on your immune system. In fact, it never “shuts off,” causing a constant state of low-grade inflammation as the body tries in vain to fight off the invader that never fully leaves the body.
- Fatigue/tiredness. Fatigue can be a sign of many different things, so most people don’t automatically assume chronic inflammation is to blame. But a body dealing with long-term inflammation simply can’t function at its peak. When inflamed cells can’t properly produce energy to keep you feeling refreshed and vibrant, of course you’re going to feel extra tired and fatigued.
Definitive Inflammation Tests
If any of these symptoms lead you to suspect you’re dealing with chronic inflammation, see your doctor. They can order a blood test to check your levels of C-reactive protein (CRP).
CRP, which is produced by the liver, is the most reliable blood marker for inflammation. As inflammation increases in the body, so does CRP. Elevated CRP also may indicate the presence of inflammatory diseases including heart disease, autoimmune conditions (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, to name a few), and acute infections such as tuberculosis.
Today, most physicians automatically check CRP during routine blood work. But if yours doesn’t, be sure to ask for it.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. Standard cholesterol tests can miss that YOU are at risk. SpectraCell’s CardioMetabolic test offers a clinically relevant evaluation to help define risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), progression toward Type 2 Diabetes, and inflammation. It includes SpectraCell’s Advanced Lipoprotein Particle Profile™ Plus (LPPTM Plus), which measures lipoprotein size and density; cardiovascular risk stratification; and also includes triglycerides and traditional cholesterol screening. Each patient is assigned a CardioMetabolic Risk Assessment, which is an indication of your risk (Low, Moderate or High) for developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke and diabetes. In addition, the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment is an estimate of your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. These check points help patients understand that not just one factor, but rather a constellation of risk factors, contribute to the genesis and progression toward poor blood sugar control and/or ASCVD. Results of testing allow doctors to know when guidance, educational referral, or treatment is necessary. Key components of the CardioMetabolic Risk Panel are listed below.
- Hemoglobin A1c
- Metabolic Syndrome
- SpectraCell’s unique CardioMetabolic risk of developing diabetes and associated conditions
- Total Cholesteraol
- LDL & HDL Cholesterol
- Non-HD Cholesterol (calc)
Lipoprotein Particle Numbers
- VLDL Particles
- Total LDL Particles
- Non-HDL Prticles (RLP, Small, dense LDL III & IV)
- Total HDL Particles
- Large, buoyant HDL 2b
VASCULAR INFLAMMATION MARKERS
- ApoB 100
- C-Reactive Protein-hs
If your inflammation markers come back indicating inflammation, don’t despair. Along with making some important lifestyle changes (improving your diet, exercising regularly, getting better quality sleep, and reducing your stress load), there are supplements you can take to dramatically reduce inflammation in your body.
Treating Inflammation Naturally
Omega-3 essential fatty acids (at least 1500mg daily) are potent anti-inflammatories, as are ginger and the antioxidant resveratrol. But my top recommendation, by far, is curcumin. To fight inflammation, take 500 mg daily.
If you’re interested in learning more about testing for inflammation contact us today.