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Inflammation

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation can be a double-edged sword – it’s something your body uses to fight off infections, and without it wounds would never heal.[1] Whenever you have an infection or injury, the redness, heat and swelling you see is your body’s immune system in action.

But once the infection or wound is taken care of, your body is supposed to shut off the inflammatory response. All too often, however, it doesn’t. The resulting continuous low-level immune response is called chronic inflammation.

Too Much Of A Good Thing Becomes Bad

The problem with chronic inflammation is that it doesn’t just affect the area that was wounded or infected. It’s a system-wide low level of inflammation that affects every cell in your body. Like water dripping on a rock eventually causes it to wear away, an endless trickle of immune cells interferes with the body’s healthy tissues. And it leads to some pretty major problems.[2]

One of the scariest things about chronic inflammation is that there are no symptoms – unless you count the growing number of degenerative diseases that are being attributed to it.[3] But these only show up years later.

Which means that thousands, probably millions of people are walking around with a ticking time bomb, never realizing the state of danger their bodies are in.

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

There are several things that can cause chronic inflammation. Smoking, toxins and pollutants in the environment. Being obese. Repeated infections.

But perhaps the biggest culprit is the typical American diet.[4]

Specifically, the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids.[5] Both fatty acids are essential, meaning they’re something your body needs but cannot make, so must be consumed.
One of the things Omega-6′s do is stimulate inflammation.[6] Omega-3′s, however, are anti-inflammatory, so having a proper balance of both is key. The optimal balance is 1:1, but most Americans get anywhere from 15 to 50 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3.[7]

The reason becomes obvious when you see where Omega-6 comes from. Sources of Omega-6 include:[8]

  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Grains
  • Most vegetable Oils
  • Corn Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Red meat

By contrast, sources of Omega-3′s include:[9]

  • Oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackeral
  • Flax seeds
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Eggs from specially-fed chickens

When you consider how much of our diet adds Omega-6, the “eat fish twice a week” adage seems a bit like trying to put out a bonfire with a squirt gun.

Long Term Effects of Chronic Inflammation

There is mounting evidence and growing consensus that chronic inflammation is at the very least a contributing factor to (if not the outright cause of) a host of debilitating diseases, including:

Just to name a few. At this point it seems almost impossible to overstate the dangers of continuing to eat the same unhealthy foods. We really are digging early graves for ourselves!

What To Do About Chronic Inflammation

Whether you already suffer from any of the above conditions or not, it’s critical that you take action to end the cycle of chronic inflammation in your body before more damage is done.
Here are some suggested steps:

1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, less simple carbohydrates and processed foods. And yes, more fish. It may not be possible to get all the way to a 1:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 with our busy lifestyles, but the closer you can get the better. Specifically, studies have shown a Mediterranean-style diet can lower inflammation and its effects.[20]

2. Get enough sleep. Too little sleep has been shown to increase markers of inflammation.[21] For that matter it’s also been shown to increase the risks of cardiovascular morbidity.[22] Plus, it makes you grouchy. You should try to get at least 7 hours per night of good restful sleep.

3. Get more antioxidants in your system. Oxidation is one of the primary causes of inflammation.[23] So it stands to reason that antioxidants are anti-inflammatory.[24] This is one reason why eating more fruits and vegetables, and following a Mediterranean diet (see #1 above) has been found helpful.

4. Most importantly, get more Omega-3′s. Repeated studies have found that Omega-3′s,[25] specifically EPA & DHA, are the key to combatting chronic inflammation.[26] For years fish oil has been studied as an effective source of Omega-3′s with good results. But recently krill oil has been found more effective.[27]

Following these four steps will go a long way toward combating the effects of inflammation in your body.


  1. ^ Wikipedia contributors. “Inflammation.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 Aug. 2016. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.
  2. ^ Calder, Philip C. “n− 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 83.6 (2006): S1505-1519S.
  3. ^ McGeer, Patrick L., and Edith G. Mcgeer. “Inflammation and the degenerative diseases of aging.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1035.1 (2004): 104-116.
  4. ^ Lee, Hansongyi, In Seok Lee, and Ryowon Choue. “Obesity, inflammation and diet.” Pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology & nutrition 16.3 (2013): 143-152.
  5. ^ Simopoulos, Artemis P. “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy 56.8 (2002): 365-379.
  6. ^ Harris, William S., et al. “Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease a science advisory from the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention.” Circulation 119.6 (2009): 902-907.
  7. ^ Simopoulos, Artemis P. “The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.” Experimental biology and medicine 233.6 (2008): 674-688.
  8. ^ Wikipedia contributors. “Omega-6 fatty acid.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Aug. 2016. Web. 18 Aug. 2016
  9. ^ Wikipedia contributors. “Omega-3 fatty acid.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Aug. 2016. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.
  10. ^ McGeer, Patrick L., and Edith G. McGeer. “Inflammation, autotoxicity and Alzheimer disease.” Neurobiology of aging 22.6 (2001): 799-809.
  11. ^ Ferrari, Carina C., and Rodolfo Tarelli. “Parkinson’s disease and systemic inflammation.” Parkinson’s Disease 2011 (2011).
  12. ^ Van Hove, C. L., et al. “Chronic inflammation in asthma: a contest of persistence vs resolution.” Allergy 63.9 (2008): 1095-1109.
  13. ^ Libby, Peter. “Inflammation in atherosclerosis.” Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 32.9 (2012): 2045-2051.
  14. ^ Libby, Peter. “Inflammation in cardiovascular disease.” Cardiovascular Biomarkers. Humana Press, 2006. 207-221.
  15. ^ Duncan, Bruce B., et al. “Low-grade systemic inflammation and the development of type 2 diabetes the atherosclerosis risk in communities study.” Diabetes 52.7 (2003): 1799-1805.
  16. ^ Bastard, Jean-Philippe, et al. “Recent advances in the relationship between obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance.” European cytokine network 17.1 (2006): 4-12.
  17. ^ Diamanti-Kandarakis, Evanthia, et al. “Indices of low-grade chronic inflammation in polycystic ovary syndrome and the beneficial effect of metformin.” Human Reproduction 21.6 (2006): 1426-1431.
  18. ^ De Luca, Carl, and Jerrold M. Olefsky. “Inflammation and insulin resistance.” FEBS letters 582.1 (2008): 97-105.
  19. ^ Eiró, Noemí, and Francisco J. Vizoso. “Inflammation and cancer.” World J Gastrointest Surg 4.3 (2012): 62-72.
  20. ^ Chrysohoou, Christina, et al. “Adherence to the Mediterranean diet attenuates inflammation and coagulation process in healthy adults: The ATTICA Study.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 44.1 (2004): 152-158.
  21. ^ Patel, Sanjay R., et al. “Sleep duration and biomarkers of inflammation.” Sleep 32.2 (2009): 200-204.
  22. ^ Mullington, Janet M., et al. “Cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation.” Progress in cardiovascular diseases51.4 (2009): 294-302.
  23. ^ Conner, Elaine M., and Matthew B. Grisham. “Inflammation, free radicals, and antioxidants.” Nutrition 12.4 (1996): 274-277.
  24. ^ Geronikaki, Athina A., and Antonios M. Gavalas. “Antioxidants and inflammatory disease: synthetic and natural antioxidants with anti-inflammatory activity.” Combinatorial chemistry & high throughput screening 9.6 (2006): 425-442.
  25. ^ Mori, Trevor A., and Lawrence J. Beilin. “Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation.” Current atherosclerosis reports 6.6 (2004): 461-467.
  26. ^ Calder, Philip C. “n− 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 83.6 (2006): S1505-1519S.
  27. ^ Ulven, Stine M., et al. “Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers.” Lipids 46.1 (2011): 37-46.
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