In recent years inflammation in the body has been receiving more attention as to one of the major causes of illness in America. While some inflammation is good, like the burning, red and puffy skin you get around a cut or bruise that denotes the body is healing itself; other forms of inflammation can be deadly.
Dr. Barry Sears describes this low grade dangerous inflammation as silent inflammation as it is usually not painful and thus not easily detected. Dr. Sears states that silent inflammation harms the body in a number of ways. Studies have shown that it destabilizes cholesterol deposits on coronary arteries, leading to heart attacks and possibly strokes.
It also drives insulin resistance that is a major factor in diabetes and weight gain and also attacks nerve cells in the brains of those predisposed to Alzheimer’s and triggers rapid cell division, causing healthy cells to turn into cancerous ones.
In his book The Anti-Inflammation Zone, Dr. Sears explains that silent inflammation is the first sign that your body is out of balance and you are no longer well. You can’t feel it, but its damaging your immune system, heart and brain. There are three underlying hormonal changes that are linked to silent inflammation. These conditions set the stage for chronic disease and include the hormones Pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, Insulin and Cortisol.
Each of these hormones contributes to silent inflammation when overproduced by the body. Fortunately each can be brought back into balance following a correct diet, exercise and use of high grade Omega 3 fish oil. Anti-inflammatory eicosanoids (the good ones) come from eating a diet rich in long-chain omega 3 fatty acids found in fish while limiting omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils.
Insulin is the storage hormone that drives nutrients to the cells. It is vital for your survival since it allows cells to either store nutrients or immediately use them for energy. If we eat a diet rich in omega 6- fatty acids, simple carbs and sugars with no or minimal exercise, our cells are full and the insulin turns those sources to fat. Excess insulin is also a major cause for increasing silent inflammation. Controlling insulin is essential if you want to reverse silent inflammation and move toward a state of wellness.
Cortisol is the third hormone that affects silent inflammation. When your body is in a constant state of silent inflammation, it reacts by having your adrenal glands pump out high amounts of cortisol, the primary anti-inflammatory hormone you have to slow down excel inflammation.
While there are various tests you can take that will test your level of silent inflammation, Dr. Sears’s notes that your triglycerides (TG) divided by your good (HDL) cholesterol is the ratio to use. The TG/HDL ratio will tell you if you have what is called metabolic syndrome, which is caused by insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of chronic conditions (obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension) that are related to insulin levels caused by insulin resistance.
The higher the TG/HDL ratio, the higher your insulin levels and the more silent inflammation you may be generating. A ratio greater than 2, however, does indicate you have high inflammation. The lower your TG/HDL ratio is, the greater your protection against heart disease.
This protection comes from having a high percentage of nonatherogenic (friendly) LD particles in the bloodstream. Silent inflammation causes the arteries to become rough and when you have predominately small LDL particles they can easily become oxidized and stick to the artery walls, thus a major cause of heart disease.
Next week I will look at ways to reduce silent inflammation and reduce your risk for chronic diseases.
HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast. He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. He is a member of the 2015 QT2 Systems Advanced Team.