Inflammation–Silent and Sneaky Partner of Aging and Disease

Inflammation can cause aches and pains, arthritis, bursitis, or any type of health issue that ends in -‘itis’. Inflammation can lead to…


Inflammation is actually a product of our immune system, and is our body’s protective response to injury, dangerous bacteria, viruses, or toxins. Normally it is part of a healthy immune response to prevent dangerous invaders from taking over our bodies.

Primitive man needed a strong immune system to fight off dangerous and deadly diseases and infections. Today there are relatively few infectious diseases our immune systems need to fight. While the ability to thrive and survive as humans had a lot to do with the strength of our immune systems, it seems in the absence of many infectious diseases, our immune systems and inflammation have turned on ourselves.

Inflammation can cause aches and pains, arthritis, bursitis, or any type of health issue that ends in -‘itis’.

Some of the more subtle forms of inflammation can include sore stiff muscles, tendonitis, joint aches, acne, red eyes, itchy irritated nose, itchy, rashy skin, allergies, swelling or puffiness, and more. Inflammation can be as minor as a pimple on your nose or as major as a heart attack.

Long term inflammation can cause heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, certain forms of cancer, diminished mental and physical energy, the loss of muscle mass and wrinkled, sagging skin.

Even though inflammation is our body’s natural response to protect our bodies from invaders, unfortunately, our overly active immune systems and the inflammatory response end up damaging our own bodies. Often inflammation is sneaky and silent, but can be deadly, too. Inflammation may be totally invisible to our own eyes, and often only specific blood tests can uncover high inflammation levels.

It used to be thought that aging came with chronic inflammation, which then progressed to chronic disease. Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to breakdown of collagen, destruction of the joints, blood vessels, digestive system, brain and nerve tissue and other organ systems, and premature aging, disease and ultimately, death.

What we now know, though, is that aging does not have be accompanied by inflammation, meaning that many of us can live to a ripe old age without chronic disease.

According to Russell Tracy, professor of pathology and biochemistry at University of Vermont College of Medicine, and a pioneer in research that demonstrated the role of inflammation in heart disease:

“Inflammatory factors predict virtually all bad outcomes in humans. It predicts heart attacks, heart failure, diabetes, becoming fragile in old age, cognitive function decline, and even cancer…”

Elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease (a chronic, progressive, degenerative disease of the brain), show areas of the human brain clogged up with neurofibrillary tangles and plaques. These same patients show many inflammatory cells and cytokines (a product of the immune system response). Clearly Alzheimer’s disease has a strong association to inflammation.

In diabetes, inflammation and insulin resistance work their destruction together. High blood sugar raises the body’s inflammatory markers. The drugs that seem to restore insulin sensitivity are also effective at reducing the body’s inflammatory markers like IL-6 and CRP.

Even osteoporosis and depression may have inflammatory roots, along with age-associated weakness. Scientists have even found that inflammatory activity breaks down skeletal muscle, leading to the loss of lean muscle mass. And on top of that, extra body fat tends to make these diseases strike earlier, because fat cells increase inflammation, and bring on accelerated aging.

Often low-level inflammation in our bodies is nothing like the raging infection, high fever or allergic reaction that you can’t help but notice. As inflammation in various parts of the body simmers in the background, over the years, damage beings to accumulate–in the heart, the brain, your nerves, your digestive system, your bones and joints and more.

What you eat, and how much you eat has a definite effect on the level of inflammation in your body.

Some of the ‘healthy’ foods you eat every day may actually be causing inflammation in your body.

Food allergies and sensitivities, can actually be one of the biggest contributors to inflammation.

And, guess what? The typical high-carb/high grain, low fat diet  is extremely inflammatory.  Refined sugar and other high glycemic, grain based foods make blood sugar and insulin levels rise, and put the immune system on high alert. High insulin levels also activate enzymes that raise levels of inflammatory arachidonic acid in our blood.

Allergies or not, much of the inflammation in our bodies begins in our digestive systems with reactions to common foods eaten every day like pasteurized dairy, corn and wheat. These foods contain proteins that easily spark the inflammatory cascade. You may be eating these foods on a daily basis and they are causing inflammation–and you not even know it!

All forms of sugar, processed foods, pasta, breads, pastry, baked goods, and snack foods such as rice and corn cakes, chips, pretzels, etc., cause a highly destructive pro-inflammatory response in our bodies. If we choose sugary or starchy foods, we trigger this pro-inflammatory release of sugar into our bloodstream.

Your best bet to dramatically decrease inflammation is to cut out wheat/gluten, corn and dairy for two weeks and note the difference. Add in one food at a time and see how your body reacts. Wait 24 hours before adding another foods. Many people often find a surprising difference in how they feel with increased energy levels, better moods, clearer skin, absence of aches and pains and a loss of weight.

Fats and Inflammation

Once thought of as healthy, polyunsaturated oils like safflower, cottonseed, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy, are primarily made up of omega 6 fatty acids. Our diets have an overabundance of omega 6 fats, which creates an unhealthy imbalance. Without enough omega 3 fatty acids to hold omega 6 fats in the proper ratio, the body turns the omega 6 fats into arachidonic acid, which is highly inflammatory.

The proper balance of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats is about 2:1 or 1:1. Unfortunately, most diets (heavy in grains, vegetable oils and grain-fed meat) are out of balance with regard to omega 6 and omega 3 fats. A standard diet often has a ratio of about 20:1, omega 6’s to omega 3’s. A diet this heavy in omega 6 fats increases inflammation in the body.

These unhealthy fats compete with omega 3 fats in our cell membrane (which is made up of fatty acids). When the cell membrane is made up primarily of omega 6 fats and trans fats, the membrane actually becomes less resilient and brittle, which limits the exchange of nutrients and oxygen. This poorly structured cell cannot fight dangerous invaders effectively, and eventually weakens and dies.

Both trans fats and omega 6 fats encourage the storage of body fat, especially in the abdomen. Excess belly fat, which can be measured as a waist size of 35 inches or more for a woman and 40 inches or more for a man, means higher levels of inflammation, since abdominal fat produces inflammatory chemicals in the body.

A diet heavy in omega 6 fatty acids (vegetable oils) actually increases wrinkling and aging of the skin as well leading to more cancerous changes from exposure the sun. In test subjects, dietary omega 6 fatty acids increased levels of PGE(2), an inflammatory messenger chemical that promoted the growth of pre-cancerous and cancerous skin cell changes.

Fortunately there are several anti-inflammatory fats, which are highly effective in helping our bodies stay younger and fight the affects of aging and inflammation.

Omega 3 fats contain two components that fight inflammation in our bodies: EPA and DHA.

The anti-inflammatory properties of EPA have been studied at length and proven to fight inflammation and a variety of health issues from depression, to heart disease and cancer.

It is important to note:

grain fed meat and farm-raised fish contain primarily omega 6 fats, while

wild-caught fish and grass fed meat contain mostly anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats.

Monounsaturated oils like extra-virgin olive oil, oil from nuts, avocados, and coconuts are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that fight inflammation.

Below is a list of foods, oils and spices that counteract inflammation.

Anti-Aging, Anti-Inflammatory Foods, Spices And Nutrients

Certain spices, herbs and teas contain some very powerful compounds that fight inflammation. Some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory phytochemicals are in these herbs and spices:

  • Turmeric
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Cloves
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Ginger
  • Chili Peppers

Some of the spiciest anti-inflammatory additions to a meal are hot peppers–including jalapeños, habeneros, and cayenne peppers. Chili peppers of all types include capsaicin (the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains), which is a potent inhibitor of a substance in the body associated with inflammation. Capsaicin also helps to raise metabolism and burn fat as well.

Green, white, oolong, and rooibos tea contain potent catechins, bioflavonoids and polyphenols that reduce inflammation and limit free radical production. Drinking 2 cups of these kinds of tea a day, can reduce inflammation significantly, as well as adding powerful antioxidants that fight aging and disease.

Foods High in Anti-Inflammatory Fats




Grass fed Meats

Free range, organic eggs



Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Coconut oil

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Chocolate (70% or more cacao)

Red Grapes


Shiitake mushrooms




Brussels sprouts



Jalapeño Pepper

Habenero Pepper

Banana Pepper

Chili Peppers


Look for the new 101 Anti-Aging Superfoods and the Anti-Aging Superfoods Recipe book due out this week! 


Till next time,

Stay healthy and lean and young!



Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN,is a back to basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled “The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation” that has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.

Her mission is to help others prevent disease, lose weight, and live their best life ever.
Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.


The Fat Burning Kitchen will get you started on the path to a healthy diet, weight loss and vibrant health.You will notice a difference in the first 24 hours! Learn about the so-called ‘health’ foods you may be eating that are actually ruining your health, and causing you to gain weight. And find out the best, fat-burning super-powered nutritious foods to eat to lose fat, gain boundless energy, and feel better than you ever have!



The Super Powerful Spice, Turmeric

Do you like Curry?

The rich yellow color of curry comes from a super-spice called Turmeric. Turmeric has been around forever and used in India and other countries for thousands of years as a yellow dye, for delicious spicy curry dishes, and traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine.

But did you you know that turmeric has some of the world’s most powerful fat-burning and healing qualities of any food or spice?

It is not only a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial substance but it also has other very powerful properties as well.

What is turmeric? Well, turmeric grows on a type of shrub in India and other parts of Asia. The roots are used for the turmeric and ground up to make the bright yellow powder.

The active ingredient in turmeric is something called curcumin and bright yellow part of the turmeric. This spice has medicinal properties as well as adding its pungent color and taste to many delicious dishes.

Traditional Indian medicine has used this spice as an internal cleanser, as an digestive aid, and in treatments for fevers, infections, liver and gall bladder problems as well as arthritis.

It also has fat burning properties, and has been scientifically proven to be effective for heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. In fact, Indians and Asians who eat lots of this spice in their diet are known to have some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the world.

The large amounts of powerful antioxidants fight free radicals which contribute to premature aging, disease and cancer.

Turmeric helps to stimulate the flow of bile in the gall bladder and helps to emulsify fats and so is very effective as both a digestive aid and fat-burning compound.

Studies also show it works very well to reduce the inflammation from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s disease as well.

Turmeric also contains strong anti-platelet substances which help prevent the blood from clotting too easily, and so is very helpful to prevent against heart attacks and strokes.

In addition, homocysteine, a chemical component which signals inflammation in the body, and is one of the primary predictors of heart attacks, is significantly lowered in the presence of curcumin. The curcumin in turmeric also lowers and reduces the oxidation of plaque on the artery walls, making it a double edged sword against heart disease and ischemic strokes.

Turmeric is also often used as a treatment for all types of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and for joint pain, due to anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric also prevents and fights cancer as well. This super spice can actually prevent cancer tumors from growing, and in those who already have cancer, turmeric will slow down the growth and spread of cancer.

In a research study done with mice injected with cancer cells, the curcumin in turmeric was proven to be more than twice as effective as the cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol). And with far less negative side effects!

When combined with the antioxidant quercetin (found in red onions, apples and cherries) the curcumin in turmeric is also highly effective against pre-cancerous polyps in the colon. These polyps were actually reduced by 50-60%.

One of the most exciting new studies has shown turmeric’s value against Alzheimer’s. Studies of the Indian population who have a high intake of turmeric in their curry dishes show a very low incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the elderly.

This is thought to be due to the fact that Alzheimer’s victims have a buildup of a certain type of plaque in the brain and turmeric is highly effective at breaking down this plaque and protecting brain health.

How to eat more Turmeric:

Yes, turmeric does exist in the prepared ‘curry’ spice, but the best way to get the highest concentrations of curcumin is to use the spice turmeric instead of curry. Curry is a combination of several spices in varying amounts, and it is hard to tell how much turmeric is in the curry powder you buy.

Turmeric is very deep yellow and can stain skin and clothing so be careful when using it. Although this spice tastes great in curries, it is much more versatile than that. Turmeric is often the yellow color in regular mustard, so if you are not a fan of curry, you can get this awesome spice by eating lots of mustard too.

It is delicious on sautéed apples, or steamed or baked cauliflower, green beans and onions, or any of your favorite veggies.

For a great, low-calorie dip, try mixing turmeric and dried onion with a little omega 3-rich mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Try it with raw veggies like cauliflower or broccoli, celery, sweet pepper, jicama or radishes.

Turmeric is also a great spice to add to dishes that feature lentils. Give salad dressings an appetizing orange-yellow hue and a little extra flavor by throwing some turmeric powder to them.

Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it’s fun to find new ways to use it in recipes. My favorite way to use it is to add a pinch of it to egg salad or adding to scrambled eggs or veggie omelets.

It adds a great flavor, and gives the eggs a yummy rich yellow hue.

Turmeric can also be purchased in capsules from a health food store, or you can make your own if you want to buy gelatin capsules and fill your own. The freshest, most powerful turmeric is available in bulk in natural food stores and is usuually less expensive and most potent.

If you are pregnant or nursing, check with your physician before using it; it can be a uterine stimulant. And if you have a tendency to get gallstones or bile obstructions; or have congestive heart failure, best to avoid. Because turmeric is so powerful, check with your doctor if you are taking any prescription drugs as it may interfere with the medication or the treatment.