If you've ever seen an apple slice turn brown 20 minutes after being cut, you can picture what inflammation does to your body: It causes the rusting of tissue. You can gauge your level of inflammation with a blood test that measures C-reactive protein (CRP), which is produced by the liver and is part of the body's battle response. A healthy level is under 1—meaning you've got less than half the chance of heart disease than if your level is greater than 3. A number above 10 suggests you may have another ailment (such as an autoimmune disease) that should be diagnosed.
To reduce CRP: Try to eliminate low-grade irritants like gingivitis (floss daily) and vaginitis (see a doctor, especially if it recurs). Also move toward a Mediterranean-style diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; fat from olive oil; moderate amounts of wine).