Silent Inflammation - What is it, and What Can We Do?


By Nancy Smorch

I've been thinking a lot about "silent inflammation" lately and how it is perceived to be the cause of numerous diseases (cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's and more).  I'm putting more and more pieces of the puzzle together, and I'm really excited to experiment and track some healing strategies for myself and my horses in terms of inflammation.

I'm recalling a conversation I had with my chiropractor in Ocala about a year or so ago, when he did some muscle testing on me for gluten intolerance.  When I tested positive for being sensitive to gluten, he said that my intestines were most likely inflamed and would need a break from gluten for a while - at least 6 months, up to a year.  My intestinal lining would need time to heal, and in order to do this, I had to eliminate the cause of the irritation - gluten - and allow the repairs to begin.

So, up until recently, I was just focusing on eliminating the gluten, but now I'm thinking deeper.  How did it get irritated and inflamed in the first place?

I've been doing some research and I'm finding that another good strategy to incorporate in my healing protocol is to make sure I don't have an overload of free radicals in my system.  How do I do this?  Make sure my body is able to produce its own antioxidants, make sure I'm taking in enough antioxidants in my diet, and making sure the toxins I'm exposed to are minimized.

Remember, free radicals are produced from normal cellular activity, but the body can normally produce antioxidants to neutralize the negative effects of the free radicals.  In today's environment, with the excess exposure to toxins, chemicals in foods, lack of nutrients, stress, and so on, our bodies are bombarded with free radicals and our body isn't able to keep up with producing enough antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals.  The average person doesn't eat enough good-quality, healthy food to take in enough antioxidants to deal with this onslaught.

So what happens?  All of these free radicals create damage, which in turn, creates inflammation.  If left untreated, this inflammation may lead to a number of diseases, arthritis being one of them.  It can also lead to other diseases like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, Parkinson's, and cancer.  These cause the body to produce even higher levels of inflammation.

According to Floyd H. Chilton, author of “Inflammation Nation,” approximately 50% of Americans suffer from an inflammatory disorder.

Remember that inflammation is your body's normal response to injury and infection - inflammation helps the body heal.  But when the body gets "stuck" in inflammation, that is when extra free radicals are produced.

So what are a couple of the things I am adding to my healing process?  I'm looking into resveratrol, which is a chemical component of red wine, grapes, cocoa, and vegetables that helps prevent and reverse inflammation.

Glutathione, which is naturally produced in the body, is known as the master antioxidant.  Glutathione (GSH) can neutralize way more free radicals than other antioxidants.  As we age, the body tend to produce less glutathione, so I'm researching to see how I can maximize my body's production of GSH.  It is believed that lack of nutrition and excessive toxins (from the environment, water, food, and lifestyle) are a big component of the decline in production of GSH.

According to an article in Well Being Journal (Jan./Feb. 2010 - Reversing Inflammation by Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D.), Robert Keller, M.D. has found that specific nutrients such as L-glutamine, N-acetyl cysteine and others, are needed to manufacture and absorb GSH.

Foods such as good-quality whey protein, curcumin, eggs, and grass-fed meat all help with the production of glutathione in the body.

Other excellent food sources for antioxidants are tomatoes, carrots, berries, peppers, oranges, (do you notice a pattern of very colorful produce?).  Organic green tea is also high in antioxidants (I definitely have that one covered!).

There you have it.  Next week I will touch upon infection and inflammation and talk about what strategies I'm starting to incorporate with myself and my horses to help with inflammation and osteoarthritis (an issue with my horses), which many say can't be reversed... but I beg to differ!