How to Test For and Heal Chronic Inflammation


In my last post, “Inflammation: What It Is and Why You Should Care About It,” I discussed the two main types of inflammation that exist within our body—acute and chronic. Now that we have differentiated between the two and learned what the different causes are, let’s dive into how to determine what you may be dealing with, and most importantly, how to heal it!

“But how can I be sure that I actually have inflammation?”

If you suspect you might be dealing with inflammation, there are tests that can help determine the type and level of inflammation you may have. However, I’d ask you a few questions before you spend the money, time and effort getting these specialized tests ordered. Are you struggling with sugar or carb cravings? Are you having a difficult time shedding those last 10, 20 or 100 pounds? Do you ever struggle with digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating or gas? What about low energy levels? Have you ever followed a low-fat diet? How often do you eat foods cooked in vegetable oil? Do you sometimes push yourself too hard at the gym hoping to burn some extra calories? Did you find out at some point in your life that you have a food sensitivity or allergy? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably have some chronic inflammation going on that needs to heal in order for your health to improve/symptoms to go away. Nearly everyone today is living in a state of chronic inflammation unless you’ve taken the measures to do something about it. Most of us have eaten low-fat, even if we didn’t want to, just based on what was available to us at the time. Intentionally or not, almost all of us have consumed processed foods, vegetables oils and trans fats more than our bodies would like.

There are two tests that can show if you have inflammation:

1. C-Reactive Protein: CRP is a general blood marker of inflammation. It measures a protein that signals a response to inflammation. It doesn’t tell us the specific cause, but it does tell us that an inflammatory response exists. Make sure you don’t have any acute inflammation going on (from a recent injury, sickness or stubbed toe) when you get this test done because CRP will be elevated in response to any inflammation, acute or chronic. You want your CRP level well below 1 and preferably at 0, indicating that no inflammation exists.

2. Fasting blood insulin: A high insulin level when fasting may indicate chronic inflammation in the body. Remember, insulin will be high as a response to elevated blood glucose because insulin acts as a vehicle for removing glucose from the blood into storage. When insulin is high, cortisol (your stress-hormone) is being released to inhibit insulin production. As mentioned in the previous blog, elevated stress is one of the many causes of inflammation. This test would be a second option, as the CRP test is our go-to for testing inflammation.

These two markers can be helpful, but we certainly don’t consider them to be the be-all end-all. Other clues that you may have chronic inflammation are chronic fatigue, being overweight and difficulty losing weight, chronic aches and pains, indigestion, dry skin, acne, psoriasis, and allergies. We recommend following our anti-inflammatory PFC approach to nutrition and embracing a supplement regimen to take care of any chronic inflammation that may exist.

How to HEAL Inflammation

Now that we understand what can be contributing to inflammation, let’s talk about the healing process. Healing chronic inflammation doesn’t look the same for everyone, but if you follow the steps listed below you can be sure you are heading in the right direction. You need to REMOVE what is causing inflammation in the first place and then HEAL the damage. Yes, this will take time, so be patient as you won’t regret the improved life you can live!

Our approach to healing inflammation is a three-pronged approach:

  1. Remove inflammation triggers by reducing your intake of inflammatory foods and participating in lifestyle habits that are causing the inflammation (i.e. avoid the bullets listed in the previous blog.
  2. Heal existing inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods and supplements.
  3. Be patient. Just like the chronic inflammation didn’t happen over night, it doesn’t heal over night. Give your body time to do it’s job and support it along the way.

Fight Inflammation with Healthy Fat

Healthy fats (yes these include saturated fats!) help heal inflammation. Translation: eat more butter, coconut oil, olives and avocado (unless you have sensitivities to any of those) which are nourishing, healing, healthy fats. Fat, including saturated fat, supports many of the body’s critical functions, including protecting against toxic overload, strengthening cell membranes (which make the skin more resilient against inflammation), stabilizing blood sugars, and providing a vehicle for your body to absorb fat soluble vitamins (leading to improved immune function). It’s important to be picky about the fats you’re using. The good ones will promote healing and the bad ones will promote more inflammation! It is also beneficial to make the switch to pastured, grass fed meats, as antibiotics in conventional meat can cause inflammation.

Inflammation Fighting Supplements

Along with avoiding bad habits and potentially damaging foods listed in the previous blog, many of our clients who have been dealing with chronic inflammation for years find that a healing supplement regimen is necessary. Three key supplements that combat chronic inflammation are: probiotics, L-glutamine, and fish oil. A probiotic supplement helps repopulate the healthy bacteria in the gut, which are essential for the healing process and get depleted over time from eating processed foods, sugars and trans fats (the foods that cause inflammation). L-Glutamine works on the integrity of the thin lining of the digestive tract, which can become inflamed over time. Fish oil specifically targets that inflammation and reduces it. This is why many of our clients find relief in back pain and joint pain when they start using our fish oil.

The amount of each supplement is individualized and depends on your lifestyle, your history, your goals and how much healing needs to happen. In general, we recommend starting with an intense regimen, taking all three of these, three times each day (ideally 15-20 minutes before each meal). Our recommendations may increase or decrease based on your specific circumstances, but this is a good starting point for most people.

Be Patient

Changing habits, eating nourishing, real foods in balance, listening to your body, and giving it time to heal is imperative. Because chronic inflammation is the root cause of SO MANY health issues, it’s worth it to make the effort to calm and eliminate the damage that is taking place in your body that you can’t see. Once your body begins to heal, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. The damage didn’t occur over night, so to expect your body to be able to heal overnight can just cause frustration. You must be patient, and allow your body to do what it was meant to do, which is to use the healthy nutrients you consume to help it function at its greatest potential.

As always, we suggest working with one of our dietitian coaches for individualized recommendations if you feel you aren’t sure where to start, or how to go about cutting out certain foods or changing some unhealthy habits. We are here for you!

  • Nathan Teuscher

    Can supplements help with chronic inflammation? I found a supplement from olive leaves that says it can reduce chronic inflammation because of the triterpenoids. The website is http://www.soleaus.com – what do you think?

    • Kateathealthysimplelife

      Hi Nathan! Supplements certainly can help with chronic inflammation, but the kind of supplements (and especially the quality) make all the difference. The ones you linked to are not pharmaceutical grade, which means they aren’t regulated in any way, shape or form. We just don’t trust anything that isn’t pharm grade, especially after that recent report that called attention to certain retailers (GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart) who are selling supplements that when tested, contained NONE of the herbs listed on the labels! What we do recommend is introducing healthy fats into your diet, eliminating processed foods and other inflammatory things like sugar, dairy, gluten, etc. And while we don’t have any experience with triterpenoids, we DO know through clinical experience that high quality fish oil (like this pharmaceutical grade kind: https://rfvitamins.com/products/omegagenics-epa-dha-500-fish-oil/) does in fact fight inflammation. If you’d like more specific recommendations to help with your chronic inflammation, contact our team (http://healthysimplelife.com/contact/)—we’d love to help!

      • Nathan Teuscher

        Thanks Kate! I appreciate the feedback. I am aware of the recent news of poor quality supplements in many retail outlets. The supplement I am looking at says “All-natural, pharmaceutical grade” right on their website, but you said that it isn’t pharmaceutical grade? Then I looked at the fish oil you mentioned and it doesn’t say anything about being pharmaceutical grade. How do I know if something is pharmaceutical grade? Is there an independent lab that tests these supplements?
        Thanks!

        • Kateathealthysimplelife

          Interesting! I did not originally see the pharmaceutical grade part on there, and I’d be curious to see their research on this product (having never heard of an olive leaf supplement!). Not all pharmacetuical grade brands will specify they are such directly on the label, although their website should specify. The company either offers pharmaceutical grade supplements or they don’t—it’s a company specific standard or it’s not. The brands carried at Real Food Vitamins are all pharmaceutical grade and third-party tested so there is research backing each one’s efficacy. I hope this helps!

          • Nathan Teuscher

            Perfect. Thank you!

  • Danielle Stella

    I have lupus that attacks my skin, lungs, hair, joints, brain and liver. I do not resort to synthetic drugs. I drink several cups of tea, chamomile, celendula,lavender, lemon balm, passion flower, any herbs that help inflammation, take them all drink tea all day every day. I also mix a tablespoon of diaotomaceous earth 1-2 a day followed by water. Take a whole food based multi vitamin and probiotic, sometimes they have both combined, Rainbow Light is a good choice. Another great option is to take 30 cloves of garlic (everything has to be organic and non gmo if you can, you want to eliminate toxins from your body not add to it, toxins causes inflammation) add any hot pepper (habanaro is my fave), a bundle of cilantro, 5-10 grams of thyme, 5-10 grams of oregeno, and 5-10 grams of turmeric, 2 table spoons of black pepper. Boil in a pot with beef stock for 45 minutes on low. Strain it and drink it. That is your medicine, take at least 3x a week until symptoms subside. Also consider using a castor oil pack, place on your liver for 30 minutes. The castor oil relieved my autoimmune hepatitis pain immediately. And the garlic broth also immediately relieved my arthritis in my knee. If you have asthma drink Mullein tea, that immediately helped me breath better. The best I have in my entire life. I’m sure if you have an auto immune disorder you have read about all these herbs and vegetables that are suppose to help with inflammation. They do, but not in the doses stated in any articles Iv’e read, that’s never helped me. You need A LOT of these herbs in order to be effective because they are not absorbed by the cells that well. Another amazing detox if you dare to try is lemon and 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda 6x a day, do not take any more than two weeks. Warning! This is such an intense detox you will get flu like symptoms, extreme, fatigue and nausea, so expect to take time off of work, read into it. But its worth it to flush your body from whatever toxins are causing you inflammation, such as the vaccines the governments gives and tries to cure with more poison. Its a disgusting evil cycle, I wouldn’t go that route. These are just things Iv’e tried that helped me. Immunosuppressants is how western medicine treats lupus. You don’t ever want to lower your immune system, you can get sick and die.

    • Kateathealthysimplelife

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Danielle! It sounds like you have a lot going on, and it’s amazing that you’ve been able to treat your symptoms without prescriptions. You are your best advocate! I would wonder, are you also including a lot of healthy fat in your treatment? The fat will help your body absorb vitamins and nutrients and heal inflammation as well. We definitely believe in supporting the immune system, and our real food approach does this naturally. We hope you’re able to continue managing your lupus, and we’re always here if you have any questions

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