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BackWhat is Silent Inflammation?

Chronic low-grade inflammation can smolder silently within your body for decades without causing any immediately recognizable problems. But it is causing damage nonetheless. This 'silent' inflammation, present in many people in some degree or other, has become a very hot topic recently.

Consequences of Silent Inflammation

In the brain, silent inflammation increases production of soluble amyloid protein and increases its conversion in insoluble amyloid fibrils, which kill neurons. If the brain cells do not remove these amyloid fibrils immediately the dead and dying cells stick together to form pleated sheets of crytilline debris called plaque.  The inflammation in the brain generates free radicals that can destroy neurons as well.2

How to Measure Silent Inflammation

The marker of silent inflammation is C-reactive protein (hs-CRP or CRP).  CRP is a protein made in the liver and released into the bloodstream in response to inflammation.  You can ask your regular physician to include this in your blood test.   But don't get the test done if you have an infection or even a cold, conditions which will cause inflammation in your body and greatly elevate your CRP levels.  Typical laboratory 'normal' is less than 5, but we recommend < 1.3 for optimal levels.

Reducing Inflammation

If your CRP scores are under 1.3 then you probably to not need to make any lifestyle or dietary modifications in the interest of reducing inflammation.  If not, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Eat less pro-inflammatory foods like red meat, eggs, coffee, alcohol, sugar and foods with a high glycemic index.5
  • Emphasize foods and spices which decrease inflammation like cold water fish, turmeric, rosemary and ginger.
  • Lose weight,6 exercise more and reduce stress.7

More Information


1. Danesh et al. 2000. Low grade inflammation and coronary heart disease: prospective study and updated meta-analyses. BMJ. Jul 22;321(7255): 199-204.

2. Floyd R. A. 1999. Neuroinflammatory processes are important in neurodegenerative diseses: an hypothesis to explain the increased formation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species as major factors involved in neurodegenerative disease and development. Free Radi Biol Med. May; 26(9-10):1346-1355.

3. Reddy et al. 1992. Inhibition of colon carcinogenesis by prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors and related compounds. Carcinogenesis. Jun 13(6): 1019-1023.

4. Akmedkhanov et al. 2002. Aspirin and lung cancer in women. Br J Cancer. Jul 1;87(1):49-53.

5. Sjoholm A, Nystrom T. Endothelial inflammation in insulin resistance. Lancet. 2005 Feb 12-18; 365(9459):610-2 When you consume sugar or high glycemic carbohydrates, you increase your insulin level which stimulates production of arachidonic acid and the amount of inflammation in your body. J. I. Kreisberg and P. Y. Patel. 1983. The effects of insulin, glucose and diabetes on prostaglandin production by rat kidney glomeruli and cultured glomerular mesangial cells. Prostraglandins Luekot Med. Aug: 11(4): 431-442

6. Laimer et al. 2002. Markers of shronic inflammatino and obesity: a prospective study on the reversibility of this association in middle-aged women undergoing weight loss by surgical intervention. Inst J Obes Relat Metab Disord. May;26: 659-662.

7. Kiecolt-Glaser et al. 2003. Chronic stress and age-related increases in the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Jul 22;100(15): 9090-9095.