Inflammation is the body’s natural response to a real or imagined threat.
Acute inflammation protects the body, e.g. when you cut your finger or sprain your ankle the body releases chemicals to trigger inflammation, initiating a healing response for blood cells and antibodies to help mop up the damage of the injury; you experience pain, redness and swelling. The body also releases chemicals to signal that you are in danger.
Silent inflammation (Chronic inflammation) is caused by an over production of “bad” eicosanoids (see below) from excess omega-6s. Our bodies are masters of compensation and continually work to maintain balance and health. This allows us to function and feel “well” even while inflammation levels are rising. This can continue for a very long time before we notice something is wrong and we then experience acute symptoms of a chronic disease. When there is too much inflammation cortisol is released. Many major diseases are now thought to be related to silent inflammation.
Eicosanoids are messengers that help to control the inflammatory process, signalling when to start and stop an immune process. They can be pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory, both are essential for injury recovery. They are released in response to eating “essential” fatty acids which are not produced in the body.
Insulin response helps your body determine whether to use or store nutrients from food. It is important in energy management, sugar metabolism and weight control.
Cortisol is the hormone released by the body during physical and emotional stress, real and imagined. It helps to regulate the immune function, reducing the pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Too much cortisol is damaging and causes a variety of health problems when released long term.
Essential Fatty Acids
Pro-inflammatory sources are related to the linoleic acid (LA) type of omega-6 fatty acids in vegetable oils. Anti-inflammatory sources are the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) type of omega-3 heart-healthy fatty acids in salmon, tuna and sardines. The type and proportion of essential fats eaten effects the inflammatory mediators the body produces.
Converting fats in the body works fine with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and
DHA (Docosahexaeonic Acid). Converting short-chain omega-3 fatty acids like ALA and omega-6s like LA creates some issues. ALA is converted to EPA /DHA though the excess that is not converted gets converted to arachidonic acid (AA), which is pro-inflammatory!
SIP (Silent Inflammation Profile) Test
The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 is important for health, particularly the ratio of AA to EPA.
EPA competes with AA to produce eicosanoids; more EPA equals more anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.
Excess AA left over from anti-inflammatory omega-6s and short-chain omega-3s like ALA results in Silent Inflammation
This simple SIP test can be done in your own home by pricking your finger to produce a dry blood spot sample on filter paper and sending it to the laboratory.
Dietary / Lifestyle Choices:
- Empower yourself with information about your health, take care while you are well.
- Adjust your omega-3 / omega-6 as indicated by the SIP test, use good quality EPA/DHA or Omega-3 supplement.
- Vegetarian sources of ALA: chia seeds, flaxseed oil, leafy greens, seaweed, soy, walnuts
- Cook with olive oil with hormonally neutral omega-9 fatty acids, coconut milk or ghee.
We are happy to advise you on your health matters
Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MSCC ICAK (UK) MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher
Aether Bios Clinic