frequently asked questions

In the last few years hundreds of scientific papers have linked chronic inflammation to degenerative diseases - indeed to the ageing process itself.

Asthma, allergies, arthritis and auto-immune disorders have long been known to have an inflammatory component, as has skin ageing. More recently, chronic low-level inflammation (sometimes referred to as 'systemic' or 'silent' inflammation) has been linked with diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancers and even depression and Alzheimer's.

Fortunately, we know from research that dietary and other lifestyle changes can reduce inflammation and other risk factors for these diseases.

All of which is why we wrote Inflamm-ageing - The Biggest Threat to your Health. So if you haven't already, do download it now.

However, as an additional insight into this critical health threat, we have produced this question and answer session.

In this FREE book download you will read about

  • How to stop and reverse inflamm-ageing
  • Foods to reduce inflammation
  • Powerful nutrients to counter inflammation


Click here for the download link.


"Inflammation is an underlying contributor to virtually every chronic disease."

Scientific American

Your questions answered

Is inflammation always a bad thing?

No. In fact inflammation is a healthy and necessary part of the immune response system. It is excess continuous inflammation over time that is the problem.

How does acute inflammation differ from chronic inflammation?

Acute inflammation is an immune response to an external threat, is positive and often visible. The skin reddens and warms after a cut or insect bite. Or an attack by a virus or bacteria stimulates the immune system to create an inflammatory response which leads to healing.

Once the threat is over, anti-inflammatory compounds are released to complete the healing process.

However, sometimes the acute inflammatory response is not sufficient to clear the threat and some residual inflammation remains. Over our lifetime we are inevitably faced with more threats and responses, so this level of residual inflammation gradually builds up. It eventually becomes a continuous background of internal inflammation in body tissues - called chronic inflammation.

How does chronic inflammation lead to age-related diseases?

  • Chronic inflammation in heart tissue is strongly linked to heart disease.
  • Chronic inflammation in brain tissue is now thought to be a key cause of dementia.
  • Chronic inflammation in joint tissue is the cause of arthritis.
  • Chronic inflammation is now believed to encourage the proliferation and spread of cancers.
  • In fact chronic inflammation is a potential destroyer of tissue in any organ, whether skin, lungs, bowel or prostate.

What is the influence of hormones?

Inflammation is increased by the reduction in certain hormones as you age. Women experience a lowering of oestrogen and men of testosterone - both of which are somewhat anti-inflammatory.

Does the food I eat have an effect?

Some foods are pro-inflammatory - they actually trigger inflammation. Other foods are anti-inflammatory. So you can significantly reduce your risk of age related disease by eating more anti-inflammatory foods and fewer pro-inflammatory foods.

How is inflammation linked to cancer?

An article in the prestigious Nature magazine, originating from the Cancer Research Institute at the University of California, states: "Recent data have expanded the concept that inflammation is a critical component of tumour progression. Many cancers arise from sites of infection, chronic irritation and inflammation".

The authors explain that the proliferation, survival and progression of tumours are fostered by tissue that is chronically inflamed, and conclude: "These insights are fostering new anti-inflammatory therapeutic approaches to cancer development". [Ref:]

Why is Type 2 diabetes an inflammatory disease?

Fat cells produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. These reduce the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, and continuous high levels of blood sugar cause Type 2 diabetes.

Does being overweight increase inflammation?

High blood sugar levels cause cross-linking damage to tissues, including the blood vessels in eyes, kidneys and brain. They also accelerate the ageing process in general. So if you are overweight, your risk of every inflammation-related illness is increased.

What about inflammation and dementia or Alzheimer's?

In a large, 50,000 person long-term study, Swedish researchers from the prestigious Karolinska Institute measured inflammation markers in young adults of 20 and followed them for 35 years. Those with signs of low-level inflammation scored lower on intelligence tests and also had an increased risk of premature death, even when they had no other indications of disease.

The lead researcher, Dr Karlsson, noted: "Although we knew that inflammation associated with infection or cardiovascular disease could impair brain function, this is the first time that similar associations have been shown in healthy young people. This suggests that even low levels of inflammation can have detrimental consequences for health and brain function."

How is inflammation linked to ageing itself?

Makoto Koto is head of the Division of Anti-Ageing and Longevity Science at the University of Yokohama, Japan. His argument on how and why we age can be summarised as follows.

  • Evolution programmed us to be healthy long enough to reproduce and pass on our genes.
  • To do that, we have evolved a sophisticated immune system that neutralises the frequent viral and bacterial attacks during the years before we have finished reproducing. In other words, we need to live long enough to bring up children.
  • An effective immune response unfortunately also triggers the release of pro-inflammatory proteins. So, each time the immune system overcomes a pathogen, it can leave a legacy of low level inflammation.
  • This sub-clinical (unnoticeable) inflammation builds up over the decades and is linked not only to the development of degenerative disease, but accelerates ageing itself.
  • In other words, the inflammatory immune mechanism that keeps us healthy until we have passed on our genes (up to about age 50) is the same mechanism that ages us and triggers disease in our later years!

I don't have arthritis or allergies. Am I free from chronic inflammation?

It's unlikely, because virtually everyone is affected by chronic inflammation to some degree. And people over 50, or who are sedentary, or who live in a city (where pollution increases inflammation) will be at increased risk.

All diseases ending in -itis are inflammatory diseases eg. bronchitis, cystitis, gastritis, dermatitis, hepatitis etc. And whilst inflammation can cause noticeable symptoms, as in joint pain or asthma, cellular inflammation can be completely symptom-free. The first sign of trouble may not be until a serious disease is diagnosed.

Can anti-inflammatory foods and nutritional supplements help in arthritis?

Yes. Anti-inflammatory drugs can have serious health risks. An anti-inflammatory diet can reduce inflammation naturally by decreasing the amount of inflammatory chemicals that are produced in the body.

You can also increase your intake of spices like turmeric (curcumin in supplement form) and ginger. These, and Omega 3 fish oil, are natural COX-2 inhibitors - natural and safer versions of the active ingredients in anti-inflammatory drugs.

Is aspirin anti-inflammatory?

There is evidence that low-dose aspirin can help. A four-year study of people with a hereditary risk of colon cancer found that those who took 600mg of aspirin a day had a substantially lower incidence of colon cancer without any increased risk of adverse events. The anti-inflammatory effects of aspirin are a probable explanation for the effect. Lancet 28 October 2011

However, aspirin can cause gastric irritation and a supplement that includes natural anti-inflammatory nutrients like Omega 3, curcumin and flavonoids may be a safer approach than aspirin on a continuous basis.

Can I measure my level of inflammation?

There are 'bio-markers' of inflammation that can be assessed in blood tests. They include C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Interleukin 1 beta (IL1beta), Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF alpha), Interleukin 6 (IL6), Interleukin 8 (IL8), Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and Isoprostane 8 (Iso-PGF2-alpha Isoprostan).

CRP is the most common marker and high levels are associated with health problems.

According to The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, pregnant women with higher CRP levels had more complications and more pre-term deliveries.

And according to the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people whose CRP levels are in the upper third of the population (above 3 milligrams per litre) have roughly double the risk of a heart attack, compared with people with lower CRP levels.

A simpler marker may be gum disease. New York University researchers found that inflammation which accompanies gum disease may be linked to brain inflammation that is characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. A 20-year study found that those with periodontis were nine times more likely to have low cognitive function scores at age 70 than those with little or no gum disease.

Is there anything I can do to reduce my level of inflammation?

Because internal chronic inflammation is normally undetectable - and because the extent of the threat is only recently understood even in the medical community - few people take the obvious action of trying actively to reduce their level of inflammation.

How to do that, simply and without drugs, is the subject of the short free book Inflamm-ageing. Download it HERE, READ it, and ACT upon it!

Over the age of 50 or so, there is a persuasive case for considering a supplement like NutriShield which has been tested and shown to have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the bio-markers listed above.

Why do I need an anti-inflammatory supplement if I eat a healthy diet?

Because, surprisingly, we don't eat enough! Over the last 100 years we have become less physically active and in order to try to keep our weight under control we have, on average, reduced our calorie intake by as much as 1,000 calories a day. And the composition of our diet has become more pro-inflammatory.

It's all in the book. So download it now from here.