There are NO outward signs, but you can ERASE your risk with five simple steps
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 67 percent of the world’s population—that’s three out of every five people—will DIE from a disease related to an insidious “invisible” condition.1
Most doctors don’t test for it. There are no real, outward signs of it. And yet, it’s the driving force behind almost EVERY chronic condition you can think of… including multiple sclerosis (MS), heart disease, and cancer.
Fortunately, as I’ll explain, it’s quite simple to detect this “invisible” condition. In fact, a few simple tests can tell you a whole lot about your overall health.
Plus, there are five steps you can take to WIPE OUT the condition BEFORE it starts to wreak havoc on your health… or takes your life prematurely.
When healthy healing turns harmful
Chronic inflammation is the “silent” condition associated with almost every serious medical condition on the planet.
This kind of inflammation doesn’t result from an infection or an injury. That’s “acute” inflammation. Instead, chronic inflammation kind of smolders in the background, causing the body to continuously send out harmful, inflammatory cells and substances.
You may not even realize you suffer from it—because so few doctors test for it. But it causes REAL problems in the body over time…
Take MS, for example. It occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, the coating around the nerve endings that help the body send messages. It turns out, chronic inflammation is a major driver of this process.
In fact, researchers with the University of Virginia recently found that MS relates to an immune system “regulator” that misfires—triggering harmful, chronic inflammation in the gut.2 (Of course, the gut is the largest immune organ in the body and often considered “ground zero” for disease.)
However, the researchers discovered they could block this faulty “regulator” and decrease inflammation in lab mice bred to develop MS. As a result, the mice experienced a “significant recovery.”
Now, research on mice is just a start—and you know how I feel about animal studies. But these results offer an interesting and compelling perspective on how people with MS and other autoimmune disorders (like psoriasis, which I covered in last month’s Logical Health Alternatives) can benefit from taking steps to reduce chronic inflammation.
Depression is another chronic disease linked to inflammation.3 This may come as quite a surprise, as drugmakers want us to think depression stems from a chemical imbalance.
Well, researchers with Emory University School of Medicine think otherwise…
In fact, in a groundbreaking study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers followed 40 patients undergoing treatment with interferon-alpha, an inflammatory protein.
Though none of the patients had depression before the treatment, many became depressed after it. And researchers have replicated these same results consistently, many times over, suggesting that the inflammatory protein actually CAUSED the depression.
According to the study’s lead researcher, Andrew Miller, “The inflammation is killing us. And one of the ways that it kills us is by affecting the brain.”
Let’s move on to some additional diseases associated with inflammation. They may just be the most troubling of all…
World’s No. 1 cause of death AND most feared diagnosis
Research suggests that inflammation plays a role in nearly every stage of heart disease—the No. 1 cause of death around the world.4
It can cause (or worsen) high blood pressure.5 It can cause blood clots and growth of arterial plaque.6 And it even increases risk of arterial plaque ruptures, which lead to heart attacks.
Some signs of inflammation can turn up in the blood years—or even DECADES—before suffering a heart attack or stroke. (Fortunately, there’s a simple blood test for it, as I’ll share in a moment.)
On the flip side, we know that reducing inflammation improves deadly cardiovascular outcomes… even in people who already have experienced heart trouble.
In fact, in a 2017 study, researchers found that treating low levels of chronic inflammation in people who experienced prior heart attacks lowered their risk of suffering a second heart attack, stroke, and even death from cardiac events.
And that’s not all… The link between inflammation and cancer is not new. In fact, experts consider inflammation a “hallmark of cancer.”7
Indeed, many types of cancer arise in spots where there’s infection, chronic irritation, or chronic inflammation. Inflammation, in particular, can damage DNA and cause cells to turn cancerous. In addition, tumors depend on inflammation to proliferate and spread throughout the body.
According to Dr. Brad Mons, “Anything that causes inflammation will cause the DNA of a cell to replicate faster. The more your cells replicate, the higher chance you have of cancers developing.”8
Researchers are also exploring ways to treat cancer by blocking inflammation. In fact, last year, in a small clinical trial out of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 24 patients with locally advanced breast cancer received a standard chemotherapy regimen along with an anti-inflammatory drug called L-NMMA, which blocks the production of nitric oxide, a molecule involved in inflammation.9
The treatment shrank the tumors in about half the patients. And, based on historical data, about one-third of the patients would have responded to chemo alone. So, adding the anti-inflammatory regimen represented a significant improvement!
Clearly, the dangers of inflammation are vast. And reining it in are of utmost importance for overall health. So, let’s look at how we can measure it (and keep track of it)—along with how we can fix it.
How to test for inflammation
There are three blood tests I recommend to gauge your overall inflammation levels.
The first is for C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory protein produced by your liver. Levels tend to rise in response to inflammation.
In general, CRP scores are categorized accordingly:
- Less than 1.0 = Low risk
- 1.0-2.9 = Intermediate risk
- Greater than 3.0 = High risk
You should also ask your doctor to measure your blood’s erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). This test measures how quickly red blood cells settle into the bottom of a test tube. (The quicker your cells settle into the bottom, the higher your inflammation.)
The third test you should ask for is a fibrinogen blood test.
Fibrinogen is a sticky protein that promotes blood clots and affects blood viscosity (or “thickness”). And it’s an acute phase reactant that will elevate with inflammation. I like to see a number below 300—anything higher points to inflammation.
Now, let’s move on to some additional ways to reduce dangerous inflammation…
Five ways to reduce inflammation without drugs
You probably know taking an aspirin or an ibuprofen when you sprain your ankle can help reduce the swelling and inflammation.
But that’s not a viable solution for chronic, low levels of inflammation. Instead, research shows that five lifestyle changes in particular can help you reduce your levels and slash the associated disease risks.
First, if you haven’t already, quit smoking. Since it promotes inflammation, smoking of any kind sets you up for developing the inflammatory diseases we’ve talked about. (Not just lung diseases!) So ditch the smoking of any kind… completely… and for good.
Second, cut out the crud from your diet, as we know that ultra-processed foods filled with carbs and sugar increase inflammation and skyrocket your disease risk. Instead, strive to adopt a Mediterranean-style diet filled with nutrient-dense, whole foods—including grass-fed and -finished meat, organic poultry, wild-caught fish and seafood, fresh produce, and healthy fats from nuts, avocados, eggs, and more.
Third, take special care to load up on whole foods that contain polyphenols (antioxidants that can lower inflammation). Foods high in polyphenols include berries, cherries, ginger, onions, turmeric, green tea, and dark, green, leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale.
Fourth, you can turn to some of my favorite anti-inflammatory supplements. Those include:
- Curcumin (500 mg/day)
- Fish oil (a brand that contains 3,000 mg of both EPA and DHA)
- Pycnogenol (50 to 100 mg/day)
- Probiotics (look for one that features different strains of friendly flora—along with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics—like Dr. Ohhira’s)
And when it comes to vitamin D, I recommend supplementing with at least 125 mcg (5,000 IU) per day until you hit optimal levels in blood testing. If your levels are deficient (below 30 ng/mL), or if repeat testing shows your levels aren’t budging, I suggest increasing your dose. I personally take 250 mcg (10,000 IU) of vitamin D3 per day, and so do many of my patients. Doing so is perfectly safe with regular monitoring.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about exercise. Moving regularly helps tame inflammation all over the body! In fact, a 2017 study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that just 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (in this case, walking on a treadmill) can have an anti-inflammatory effect. It’s particularly effective at lowering that harmful, inflammatory protein CRP.11
As you probably noticed, the solutions for taming chronic inflammation are all basic principles of healthy living. So, here’s yet another reason to get moving, make some healthy dietary choices, and add in some key supplements. It’s all you need to tame this “invisible” condition and ward off disease.
- “Chronic Inflammation.” National Library of Medicine, 8/8/22.(ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/)
- “The activity of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in T cells tunes the gut microenvironment to sustain autoimmunity and neuroinflammation.” PLOS Biology, 2/14/23. 21(2): e3002000. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3002000
- “How inflammation in the body may explain depression in the brain.” The Washington Post, 2/23/23. (washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/02/23/depression-brain-inflammation-treatment/)
- “Inflammation May Be the Culprit Behind Our Deadliest Diseases.” Time, 4/11/23. (time.com/6269070/inflammation-deadly-diseases/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20low%2Dlevel%2C,running%20through%20nearly%20all%20diseases.)
- “The role of inflammation in hypertension: novel concepts.” Curr Opin Physiol. 2021 Feb;19:92-98. doi.org/10.1016/j.cophys.2020.09.016.
- “Fight Inflammation to Help Prevent Heart Disease.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, accessed 8/13/23. (hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fight-inflammation-to-help-prevent-heart-disease)
- “Inflammation and cancer.” Nature. 2002 Dec 19-26;420(6917):860-7. doi.org/ 10.1038/nature01322.
- “Inflammation linked to cancer, but lifestyle changes may help.” City of Hope, 8/15/18. (cancercenter.com/community/blog/2018/08/inflammation-linked-to-cancer-but-lifestyle-changes-may-help)
- “Targeting Inflammation Emerges as a Strategy for Treating Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, 8/19/22. (cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2022/reducing-inflammation-to-treat-cancer)
- “Vitamin D Deficiency Clearly Linked to Inflammation.” Medscape, 8/19/22. (medscape.com/viewarticle/979452?form=fpf)
- “Effect of exercise training on chronic inflammation.” Clin Chim Acta. 2010 Jun 3;411(11-12):785-93. doi.org/10.1016/j.cca.2010.02.069.