If you’ve ever experienced a sore throat, rash, hives, or a sprained ankle –you know about inflammation. The real concern is not our response to immediate injury, infection, or insult. It’s the chronic, smoldering inflammation that slowly destroys our organs and our ability to function optimally and leads to rapid aging. New research suggests that hidden inflammation is at the root of many chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia and some cancers. Though experts say it usually takes years of chronic cellular inflammation to trigger these types of disease, there are also subtle, short-term consequences, including fatigue, aches and pains, lowered immunity and indigestion. Does this sound familiar to you?
Consider a simple blood test? A high-sensitivity blood test for C-reactive protein, or the hsCRP test, identifies the presence of C-reactive proteins, which are indicators of inflammation in the body. This test makes the most sense for those who experience chronic stress or are over age 40, have even slightly higher cholesterol levels, a large waistline, a family history of heart disease or are a little overweight.
The inflammation signaled by CRP is influenced by genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, too much stress, and exposure to environmental toxins like secondhand tobacco smoke, mold and allergens. Diet has a huge impact, particularly one that contains a lot of refined, processed and manufactured foods.
As it relates to diet and nutrition, one size does not fit all. Factors like food allergies, balance of acid and bacteria in the gut and some medicines can make lowering CRP levels more challenging. However, in general following the anti inflammation diet (aka Mediterranean) makes sense for virtually everyone– especially those with elevated CRP levels. This means including healthy monounsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts and avocados) and getting more omega -3 fats from fish like sardines and wild salmon. Include lean proteins but primarily focus on a high fiber plant-based diet, which is inherently anti-inflammatory. Choose unprocessed, unrefined, whole foods. Avoid foods high in sugar and white flour. Try including the flavor packed anti-inflammatory herbs ginger and turmeric.
Whether you know your measurement of CRP or not, fighting inflammation in the body just makes good sense. The anti-inflammatory diet is the most powerful tool literally at your fingertips. Live longer. Feel better.
In good health. My best to you always.
Kimberly Young, M.S. is a practicing Nutritionist in Dallas, Texas. Learn about her integrative and functional approach to diet and nutrition at kyoungnutrition.com