What’s The SIP Test, Anyway?
SIP stands for Silent Inflammation Profile. It’s a blood test you can have your doctor order, or in some cases, even buy online. Put simply – the test tells you if your omega-3 ratio is good or bad. It tells you exactly how “silent inflammation” is in your body based on your blood test, then tells you how much omega-3 you need to incorporate into your diet to keep your ratios healthy.
The Geography Of The SIP
Now you know the SIP is a blood test that tells you if your omega ratio is good or bad. Simple enough…Or is it? If you’re still not sure what exactly the SIP does, it’s a good idea to review the geography of the SIP. I’m calling it the “geography” of the SIP because it’s helpful to think about the SIP in terms of layers – corny, I know. Just work with me!
The first layer is silent inflammation. You can read about this in more detail by clicking that link, but for now, I’ll just give you a quick rundown of the three underlying factors that contribute to it’s spread within the body.
At the core you will find the eicosanoids. They signal to your body whether to start or stop the immune system process. There are two major types of eicosanoids: pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory, both of which are necessary for the body to recover from harmful events.
Next, you come across insulin. It helps your body determine whether to store or use nutrients from food. Obviously, it plays a big role in factors such as energy, weight and diabetes.
Finally, cortisol helps regulate the functions of your immune system. When your body is feeling too much stress, cortisol will step in to reduce the pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Too much cortisol, though, causes a variety of health problems.
The second layer is essential fatty acids. Your body needs certain fatty acids to carry out normal activities but can’t make them alone – hence the title “essential”. There are only two types of essential fatty acids, and you get them from the foods you eat. The first is called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), and is a type of omega-3. The other is called linoleic acid (LA), and is a type of omega-6.
So, while you’re scarfing down that hamburger and fries, your body is trying to break it down into something useful.
What’s important during this process is that you end up with a byproduct called arachidonic acid (AA) which tells your body to start making eicosanoids.
Next, insulin is released and nutrients from your food are either stored for later or used right away. If there’s too much inflammation, cortisol will be released.
Hopefully, it’s all starting to come together!
Now, this process is all fine and good when you’re converting long-chain omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). However, when your body tries to convert short-chain omega-3 fatty acids like ALA and omega-6s like LA there’s usually some pretty nasty stuff left over.
What’s The Test Really Measuring?
What the SIP test is really measuring is the ratio of AA to EPA. Basically, it’s the ratio of useful stuff to nasty stuff that’s left over from what your body breaks down. The excess AA left over from anti-inflammatory omega-6s and short-chain omega-3s like ALA results in silent inflammation.
The test looks at the ratio of EPA because this long-chain fatty acid actually competes with AA to produce eicosanoids. Obviously, the more EPA you have, the more anti-inflammatory eicosanoids you have, too!
The Importance Of SIP Scores
Sure, knowing your SIP score can play a huge role in the way you actively pursue a healthy lifestyle. In some ways, this knowledge can empower you by giving you something concrete that you can change about your daily health and nutrition goals.
Does this mean you have to take the test? No way! Clearly, you wont be any worse off if you don’t take the test. You already know which types of omega-3s to include in your diet, and which types to stay away from.
Will more information help you make better choices? Of course! In the same way that you would have your cholesterol re-checked after making changes to your diet, taking the SIP will let you know with certainty if you’re on the right track.
Three Kinds Of Scores
Basically, there are three kinds of SIP scores you might see after taking the test:
- Low AA – This kind of score is virtually impossible, since our diets are so high in omega-6s.
- High AA – This is a much more likely score.
- Low EPA – This score indicates an omega-3 deficiency!
It’s hard to know if your omega ratio is good or bad without taking the SIP test which is a blood test designed to measure the ratio of AA to EPA in your body. This ratio can indicate high levels of silent inflammation, or serve as a guideline for exactly how much omega-3 you need to incorporate into your daily diet. While this test isn’t necessary, you should remember that it’s nearly impossible to be healthy if your AA/EPA ratio is wacky. You can avoid this by increasing the amounts of omega-3s in your diet, and decreasing the amounts of omega-6s.