Aging and Longevity – 4. Inflammation

Low-level inflammation causes millions to die every year. This type of inflammation can easily be identified with a simple blood test. Usually, it can easily be treated with a combination of all herbs and nutrients. In years to come it will be measured routinely, because it is such an effective predictor of disease.

What Is Low Level Inflammation?

We generally know when we have an inflammation, because it is characterized by the classic indications of heat, swelling, redness and pain.

However when there is low-level inflammation there are no obvious external signs. But what is certain is that this low level inflammation is an accurate predictor of many serious diseases.

What Problems Does It Create?

There is very clear data showing that low-level inflammation makes heart and artery disease much more likely. This has been confirmed by analyzing the results of major studies.

By itself, this is a very important factor in health and aging. Ofter all, half the population of Western countries die of heart and artery disease.

But there is more. Low-level inflammation is also an accurate predictor of many other degenerative diseases, including;

  1. Alzheimer’s disease
  2. Arthritis and rheumatism, and
  3. Some, probably many, cancers

How Can It Be Measured?

The actual causative factors of inflammation – inflammatory cytokines – can be measured; but this is expensive. It is better first to measure two blood components which indicate the presence or absence of inflammation; then home in on the cytokines only if necessary.

These two blood components, which accompany inflammation, are easily and (fairly) cheaply measured. They are c-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen. In the UK you might even get your doctor to get these measured for you.

If these two are very high and there is no obvious inflammation present (such as an infection), then some sort of low level inflammation is present. This inflammation will be wearing out body tissues and certainly leading us towards degenerative diseases.

The level of CRP you are aiming for is less than 1 mg/L (milligram per litre) for men, and less than 1.5 mg/L for women (Philip Miller, 2005, p184 – see end of next paragraph). Over 2 mg/L for men and 3.5 mg/L for women leads to significant additional risk for heart disease, and other degenerative diseases.

How Can Inflammation Be Treated?

Low-level inflammation can be treated through diet and by using supplements.

Diet: this is pretty much the standard anti-aging diet, namely:

  1. Plenty of fresh vegetables, many of them preferably raw.
  2. Reduce to a minimum potatoes, pasta, bread and rice.
  3. Reduce all types of sugar to a minimum – honey and maple syrup included
  4. Moderate amounts of fruit, mainly berries, eaten whole and not as juice.
  5. Choose foods low on the glycemic index.
  6. Eat healthy fats. Apart from trans fats and saturated fats, which should obviously be avoided, Omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation. These are present in most oils except olive oil, and in meat and dairy products as well as in grains. Grass-fed meat is lower in Omega 6 fats than grain-fed meat. Omega 3 fatty acids on the other hand, are anti-inflammatory. They are found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish and in vegetables in small amounts.

Supplements: The top supplement to take to reduce generalised inflammation is fish oil. All adults are advised to take at least 1 gramme of DHA + EPA daily, and up to 3 grammes.  Probably 2 grammes is good to aim for. This is provided by 6 capsules a day of the typical omega 3 supplement – but check the label – some are stronger than others. Look on the label for the level of EPA and DHA and add them together.  You are looking for 2 grammes or 2000 mg. (Ignore the total amount of fish oil – you are looking just for EPA and DHA.)

Other anti-inflammatory supplements include bromelain – from pineapple, the hormone DHEA and vitamin K.

Herbs which can counteract low-level inflammation include natural, ginger, turmeric and ginkgo.

The exact treatment protocol use will be best determined by a professional you’re working with. Or you might start with that given in Philip Miller‘s excellent book “Life Extension Revolution” (2005 edition, page 194).

The 4 ‘-ations’ – Essential Indicators of Health

The 4 ‘-ations’ – which include inflammation – are four very damaging processes which cause aging and which produce the degenerative disease which kill most of us. The other three of these processes are methylation, oxidation and glycation.

The knowledge of how to deal with these 4 killers is growing rapidly, mainly among the few researchers who are interested in longevity or healthy aging.

It typically takes 25 years for the medical profession to absorb new information of this magnitude. This means it is up to us as individuals to learn about, and take control of, these processes.

Fortunately, the evidence is clear and the solutions are quite simple. To me, this is an absolutely fascinating topic. I hope I have conveyed that to you in these four articles, and that you find them useful.

  • Stan@JoeFirstknight

    Recently, the mercury levels in fish have led people to worry about eating fish. Some people do not like swallowing liquid fish oil directly from the spoon,because it taste terrible! If you don’t like the taste of it, fish oil capsules comes to the rescue! Fish oil capsule is a good solution if you do not like fish, while at the same time you want the benefits of EPA and DHA in your diet.

  • Paul @ Arthritis Pain Relief Information

    Diet is probably the greatest cause of inflammation. Food is medicine and what we eat controls are health.

  • Malc

    Paul – diet is certainly important, very important: but lifestyle also plays a part as does heredity. One way to be pretty sure is to measure the blood for CRP and maybe fibrinogen. Then you can take measures – diet, admitedly, and supplements – then recheck after a few months.


  • Deevan@pharmaceutical grade fish oil

    Your comment, “It typically takes 25 years for the medical profession to absorb new information” is interesting, and I think accurate – maybe not to be taken literally, but that new studies come along all the time, but doctors act on tried and true methods.

  • Mike @ Prostate Health Supplements

    Chronic low-level of inflammation is now believed to be the main source of most degenerative disease in the US. Inflammation can be regarded as the true hidden killer of up to 73% of Americans – either as a major cause itself or as a major contributing factor. The easy way out of this dangerous predicament is simple: eating healthy food, avoiding damaging food and using fish oil anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 diet supplements, Vitamin E and Vitamin C.

  • KansaKare@prostate cancer care

    That’s scary … low level inflammation mm-m-m

    Yet, as so often is the case, a good diet and healthy lifestyle can save the day. Good healthy recommendations here, duly noted

  • Malc

    Healthy lifestyle – and lots of omega 3 fats – fish oil a must really. It also reduces incidence of many cancers, probably including prostate cancer.

  • Tian@Chinese medicine

    From the perspective of Chinese medicine, there is no conception as low-level inflammation. From its classic indications of heat, swelling, redness and pain, we can draw a conclusion that it might be caused by interior heat and dampness. Even though there are no obvious external signs, personally I think heat and dampness still play an very important role in low-level inflammation.

  • Malc

    Perhaps the connection to heart disease and cancer could give a clue. What types of heart disease I have no information. But no doubt it fits into the oriental model somewhere.


  • Charlotte

    Wonderful work putting this crucial information out to people. In the US, the bsic nutrition awareness is so low, it is frightening. I am Swedish and have had knowledge of these anti-aging anti-disease measures for quite some time. My husband has brain cancer and we are applying every bit we can into our everyday life. thanks again

  • Charlotte

    are you looking into the shortening of our telomerase and its direct causative effect on lifespan and illness? mitoquinone is now available to the public, while TA 65 is still being tested. very interesting and at the forefront of longevity research.

  • Malcolm Simmonds

    Hey Charlotte

    So sorry to hear about bad sh*t, that is awful. That bloody cancer will be conquered before long – we will look back on it just as they looked back on bacterial infection in the 1950s.

    Good luck!



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  • Jackie

    I feel like a freak when I talk to my doctor about raised leukotriene levels etc. I’m just told this low level, !two-month! mucus infection will pass or I can have some antibiotics… No offer of blood tests or anything – nothing that’s specific. And anyway, what right do I have to embarrass my doc by knowing more about these things than she does – it’s all alternative hocus pocus, isn’t it?

    I know what I have to do though – so how can she help initially anyway? It’s my diet and, though she doesn’t understand that’s the cause, I do. So blood tests will only confirm that I’ve been lazy and not thought enough of myself to take care of myself. So, thanks for this reminder about the methylation process in particular. I will now start my vitamin and oil collection once more and hopefully sort myself out, cos no one else is gonna do it.

  • Malcolm Simmonds


    “what right do I have to embarrass my doc by knowing more about these things than she does”

    That is the exact point I make: a decent doctor would respect your views and opinions based on research you have done. It’s not a “right to embarrass”, it’s the normal human “right” to give and expect mutual respect for another’s views. I do not say “be better” than them, I say: “share knowledge”. Your wording seems to indicate you are putting them on a pedestal – as many do: and that is what I question. It is YOUR health, so you should be in charge of it – with help and advice from (let’s face it) paid advisers.

    Cheers and good luck with knocking that infection on the head!



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  • Jackiechristiansen

    Don’t forget about Fucoidon and it’s anti-inflammatory properties:

    Anti-inflammatory effects of fucoidan through inhibition of NF-?B,
    MAPK and Akt activation in lipopolysaccharide-induced BV2 microglia

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