How to Dramatically Reduce Inflammation: A Primary Cause of Disease and Aging

In All Health Watch, Anti-Aging, Featured Article

Every time your body is injured – whether you scrape your knee on the pavement or the lining of your arteries becomes irritated – your immune system triggers an “inflammatory” response.

When this inflammation occurs ON your body, the signs are easy to recognize. Redness, swelling, warmth and pain are all associated with an inflammatory response.

But inflammation that occurs WITHIN your body does not come with such obvious signs. Think of it like a house that is being eaten by termites. Although, the house may look fine from the outside, the structure underneath is becoming soft, rotten and unsound.

Chronic internal inflammation is the cornerstone of physical aging. It is one of the primary causes of every degenerative disease, including diabetes, cancer, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

The Best Biological Marker for Inflammation

Internal inflammation is difficult to measure. However, when it is present within the body, your liver secretes a substance called C-reactive protein (CRP). And that can be measured. When inflammation is high, CRP increases. When inflammation falls, so does CRP.

C-reactive protein is the best biological marker for sub-clinical inflammation. And because inflammation is so strongly related to heart disease, that makes CRP a very accurate indicator of your risk for heart attack and stroke. It is far more reliable than LDL cholesterol.

A study of men, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that those with higher levels of CRP have a three times greater risk of heart attack than those with normal levels. The research also shows that people with very low CRP levels rarely suffer heart attacks.

Heart Disease Is Not a Plumbing Problem – It Is an Inflammation Problem

Most cardiologists explain plaque buildup and narrowing of the arteries as a plumbing problem: Fat and cholesterol stick to the walls of the arteries and build up. The arteries then become stiff and narrow.

But this is only partially true. And it does not explain why fat and cholesterol stick to the walls of your arteries in the first place.

You see, your arteries bear only a superficial resemblance to pipes. A closer examination reveals smooth muscle tissue, sandwiched between two “structural” layers. These muscles and connective tissues are vulnerable to inflammation. When inflammation strikes, it occurs within – not on – the arterial walls.

When it is persistent – as a result of nutritional deficiencies or eating foods that are not native to your physiology – the inflammation causes damage.

The cholesterol and fat that stick to your arteries are part of your body’s repair mechanism. These “plaques” help to cover up and heal the damage. However, as they build up over the years, blood flow to your tissues becomes restricted. The blood vessels become stiff and blood pressure rises. And when these plaques dislodge, they can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

You don’t reduce plaque buildup in your body by reducing cholesterol and healthy fat in your diet. You reduce plaque buildup by controlling the inflammation that causes damage in the first place. So how do you do that?

Stop the Raging Fires of Inflammation…

There are two steps you MUST take to reduce inflammation:

Reduce your omega-6 fatty acids and increase your omega-3s.

The omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable and seed oils, processed foods and conventional meats are highly inflammatory. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are anti-inflammatory.

Researchers at the University of San Diego recently showed the anti-inflammatory power of omega-3s in an experiment on two groups of mice. One group was fed a diet rich in omega-3s, while the other group ate a diet low in omega-3s. At the end of the study the mice on the high omega-3 diet showed major reductions in inflammation (not to mention, increased insulin sensitivity), while those on the low omega-3 diet showed increased levels of inflammation.

Unfortunately, most people do not consume nearly enough omega-3s. And on top of that, the modern food processing industry has introduced an abundance of omega-6 fats into our diet. This unnatural imbalance is the primary cause of inflammation for most people.

The solution is to avoid processed foods along with vegetable and seed oils, while increasing your consumption of omega-3s. Excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids are wild salmon, sardines, grass-fed beef and, of course, fish oil.

Just say “no” to sugar and eat a low-glycemic diet.

Spikes of blood sugar and insulin cause a cascade of biochemical and hormonal changes that result in inflammation. A recent study from Harvard showed that women who ate foods with the highest glycemic load had nearly twice the inflammation of those who ate lower glycemic foods. Follow a low glycemic diet by avoiding fruit juices, sugar-sweetened drinks and desserts and carb-rich foods like mashed potatoes, pasta, white rice, bread and cereals.

Follow these two steps, and you will eliminate the primary causes of inflammation. And by doing so, you will dramatically reduce your risk of every disease associated with aging.

And don’t assume that inflammation isn’t affecting you because you “feel okay.” Take measures to curb inflammation. And then have your C-reactive protein levels measured so you can stay on top of the issue. According to several doctors we consulted, less than 1.0 mg/dL is optimal, but the lower the better. Anything higher than 1.0 and your risk of disease increases.

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