Digestive Care Expert Brenda Watson

Inflammation—The True Marker of Poor Health

Inflammation describes a wide array of immune functions that are supposed to act as a way to get rid of harm in the body, and then to cease. When we get a cold, inflammation runs high as the immune system sends out its troops to conquer the “bad guy” and get it out of the body. This lasts for a few days, maybe a week or so, and then it stops. The same thing happens if you cut yourself or stub your toe—the body senses a threat and sends immune chemicals to defend and protect. Then it stops. This is how the immune system should function.

The immune systems of many people in today’s world, however, are not properly developed, and, thus, they do not properly mount inflammatory responses. In essence, many people have an immune imbalance. Either too much of a response, not enough response, or misplaced response. For many people, a chronic, low-grade inflammation exists, also called silent inflammation. You can’t see it and you can’t feel it, but it simmers away, causing damage and leading to disease. More and more health conditions are being linked with silent inflammation, and the medical establishment is taking notice.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism researchers found that reduced levels of inflammation explain why some obese people remain metabolically healthy. That is, some obese people do not get high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. This is known as “metabolically healthy obesity.”

Up to 35 percent of obese people are thought to be metabolically healthy, but my guess is that those estimates are based on traditional cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and so, they are probably higher than actuality. You see, the inflammation starts first, and can lead to abnormalities in cholesterol and blood sugar that are not caught on conventional tests. So an obese person may pass his blood tests, but if he has silent inflammation, he is not actually metabolically healthy. Detecting this inflammation using the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test is recommended (and often covered by insurance—ask your doctor).

While there can be obese people who do not have inflammation, there are also lean people who do have inflammation. They are known as “skinny fat”—thin on the outside, but metabolically unhealthy on the inside. So if you know someone who thinks she can get away with eating terrible because she doesn’t gain weight and her blood levels are great, she’d be wise to consider the fact that her lifestyle is giving her silent inflammation.

It’s not always easy to eat well in today’s world, with treats that tantalize us at every turn, but once you understand the underlying ramifications of your bad habits, you begin to want to change your ways. My hope is that some of the information I share with you will help you to make changes that help you live a vibrant, healthy life.


Written by Brenda Watson

Brenda Watson is among the foremost authorities in America today on natural digestive care, herbal cleansing and nutrition. A dynamic health advocate, best-selling author and celebrated PBS-TV health educator, Brenda overcame her own battle with chronic illness and has since helped millions of people improve their well-being through optimal digestion and nutrition. She continues to share her knowledge with the world through her books, online media, and radio and television appearances.Sign up today in the right sidebar to receive Brenda’s Healthy Living eNewsletter full of do-it-yourself tips, recipes, and exclusive offers!

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  • Sarah R.

    How do I reverse silent inflammation?

  • Rebecca

    Thank you so much for including knowledge and information to those reading your newsletter!! I have been wondering about all this talk of inflammation by the functional medicine health leaders and others and today I was enlightened by your information.
    I cut sugar – including fruit, all wheat/ gluten, and processed foods because I am trying to clear up an overgrowth of Candida. I have been eating keifer and Greek – probiotic yogurt to help restore the good bacteria, however, the last couple of days I’ve been having stomach pain and cramping. Do you think maybe this is due to too much dairy? What is your opinion on dairy? I eat 2 eggs a day and don’t seem bothered by those. I do not eat cheese.

    Do you suggest a gut cleanse to begin a restoration balance to the gut?


  • Kathy

    I must be one of “skinny fat” ones because my cholesterol is 314 down from 368. I weigh 100lbs & nobody believes I can have high cholesterol. I was on statins for a while but that bad effects on my muscles/joints. I just received your book “The Skinny Gut Diet” an am looking forward to getting healthier. I’m also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, had Graves’ disease, anxiety & depression to name a few. If you could point me in the right direction to healing would appreciate it. Loving all the info on your blog!!!!
    Thank you, Kathy

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