A healthy lifestyle is crucial to minimizing your risk of chronic inflammation and associated diseases and disorders. What you eat and how you live may drastically affect your quality of life and longevity.
Using a home test that measures a chemical byproduct of inflammation, researchers and people concerned about their health have discovered that we have a lot of control over factors that cause chronic inflammation.
In his own test results, our company president Joe Brunner got proof that healthy living is key to reducing the risk of chronic inflammation. He also found out what happens when you don’t exercise and eat healthy.
This story is the third segment of our four-part series on inflammation. In our two last articles, we learned about a home test that measures a by-product of inflammation called thromboxane and therapeutic measures that may help reduce and control inflammation in your body by lowering thromboxane production.
The Concerning Link Between Chronic Inflammation and Disease
Unlike the “acute” inflammation you experience while healing from an injury or illness, chronic inflammation is a continuing immune response that can trigger and inflame a myriad of diseases and disorders like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
Brunner took the test because he understood the connection between inflammation and disease and had a concerning family history. He didn’t have symptoms or illness but wanted to measure his thromboxane production to see if his healthy lifestyle was lowering his risk of disease.
“Both my parents died of cancer,” said Brunner. “My dad was 64, had lung cancer, and was a non-smoker. My mom was 70 and died of ovarian cancer. That forced me to dive into how to maintain good health and keep my inflammation down.”
He met Gordon Ens, the laboratory director of Inflammatory Markers Laboratory (IML) of Wichita, KS at a trade show. Ens had begun using the test to measure the “aspirin-like effect” or whether a therapeutic measure was lowering thromboxane production like aspirin does.
What the Test Scores Say about Your Health
Since its FDA clearance in 2008, the test has shown that many medications and foods can provide that aspirin-like effect. It’s also shown that nutraceutical agents, spices, and foods reduce thromboxane production, even in people taking aspirin for heart conditions. Sometimes people need a combination of an aspirin regimen and nutraceutical agents to lower thromboxane production significantly so they do not have another heart attack.
Test scores for apparently healthy people not taking aspirin typically range from 141 to 421; scores over 421 indicate inflammation. People on an aspirin regimen typically score 100-150; scores over 150 show that aspirin may not be lowering thromboxane production enough and their chances of a second heart event are up to 350% higher.
Brunner’s first test scores were shocking.
“His score was 58. I was surprised,” said Ens. “His result was almost as low as mine and I take aspirin and other things. I’ve only seen a few scores in that ballpark.”
When they discussed the amazing test score, it was apparent that Brunner’s lifestyle was key. He was doing a fast-paced cardio class three times a week and a high-repetition weight-lifting class twice a week. After workouts, he hit the sauna. Brunner was also on a low-carb diet, fasting 12 hours a day, and rarely drinking alcohol.
Together, his diet and exercise kept his thromboxane production and risk of chronic inflammation radically low.
What Happens when Healthy Routines Slip
If the story ended there, it would be magical. But we all know that sticking to healthy routines is tough, even without a historical pandemic.
About a year after the first test, Brunner took another and got much different results. Gyms in Oregon had been closed for most of 2020 due to Covid-19 and he wasn’t sticking to a strict, low-carb diet. His second test scored 180, recording almost four times the thromboxane production.
While this isn’t an alarming score, it’s a testament to the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
“His score of 180, while in the lower part of the reference range is no longer demonstrating an aspirin-like effect (150 or less),” Ens wrote in Brunner’s case study. “His case is a good example of the positive effect lifestyle and diet can have in reducing thromboxane production which indicates an anti-inflammatory/anti-platelet activation effect.”
This increase wasn’t as surprising to either Brunner or Ens. It was more a confirmation that many lifestyle factors influence chronic inflammation. Among them are lack of exercise, excess stress, sleeping disorders, inflammatory fats in certain foods, stomach ulcers, obesity, smoking, alcohol, and even sun exposure, Ens said.
Lack of exercise, excess stress, sleeping disorders, inflammatory fats in certain foods, stomach ulcers, obesity, smoking, alcohol, and even sun exposure are known to influence chronic inflammation, Ens said.
“What we’re seeing with this test, like other inflammation tests, is that biomarkers of inflammation are so sensitive to diet, nutrition, and nutritional supplements,” Ens explained. “We found this the hard way with people doing studies and not controlling their subjects’ diets or not tracking them at least. And so, we would see results that didn’t make sense.”
Healthy Living Can Lower Your Risk of Inflammation
The good news for all of us is that healthy living pays off. It can drop thromboxane production in your body quickly. Sticking with healthy habits can keep your risk of chronic inflammation and disease low.
This test can provide valuable insights, but it can’t explain why your thromboxane production is high or low. If you take the test, it’s important to be completely honest with your health care provider about your lifestyle, not just the test score. Please, don’t change your medications, supplements, or lifestyle without your health care provider’s help.
In the last segment of this series, we’ll explore the best exercise you can do – in the gym or at home – to lower your risk of chronic inflammation and disease and keep it low!