I went to St. Louis for a few days with the family. We had a great time! We went to a baseball game at Busch Stadium, visited the zoo, saw the arch, and did lot’s of walking. I was able to hit the hotel treadmill for a 5 mile run. I didn’t feel comfortable running outside alone in a “new to me” city. Some snap shots from St. Louis…..
Now, lets discuss inflammation. Is it good? Is it bad? Inflammation is an important part of health as it plays a role in fighting infections and helps in repairs and healing. What we don’t want is chronic, low-grade inflammation. This leads to damaged cells, organs, and tissues leading to loss of function and a bunch of other problems. Chronic inflammation is also known to cause weight gain.
Currently, there isn’t a specific test for inflammation. The best test is to measure blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation. There are no noticeable symptoms when CRP levels are high.
Being health conscience, I really wanted to get my CRP level tested. Data suggests that chronic low-level inflammation can lead to serious diseases such as heart disease, some forms of cancer, and conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Also, I’ve been dealing with knee pain and couldn’t help but wander if I had chronic low-level inflammation.
I made an appointment with a functional medicine doctor and got my CRP level tested (among other things). I was surprised to find out my level was 1.85. It wasn’t dangerously high, but higher than I wanted. Here are the ranges:
<1.0 = low risk 1.0-3.0 = average risk >3.0 = high risk
The plan was to get my level below 1.0. My follow up appointment was 3 months later, so during that time I made some changes. Not surprisingly, what we eat has a huge impact on inflammation. Certain foods cause inflammation while other foods contain nutrients that help control it.
The changes I made weren’t drastic or difficult. One thing I needed to do was boost my Vit D. I was deficient (and have been in the past) so now I am consistent with taking a Vit D3 supplement daily.
I eliminated gluten. Gluten is known to be inflammatory for some people. Everyone is different and you have to decide for yourself if you feel better not eating it. I pretty much eat gluten free all the time, but it sneaks in every once in a while. I can usually tell the next day after eating gluten. Dairy can also be inflammatory for some individuals.
I added a fish oil supplement. I was hesitant about taking this, as I hear mixed opinions on taking fish oil. My doctor said quality definitely matters when it comes to fish oil. So if you take it, I would get it from a reputable source. Or eat fatty fish once or twice a week!
When I went back for my follow-up appointment 3 months later, I was happy to find out my CPR level was 0.64. Now, it’s hard to pin point what change was most effective, but it was most likely a combination.
Here are some ways to help decrease inflammation in your body:
- Get your sunshine! Appropriate vit D levels are associated with less inflammation
- Get regular exercise
- Increase omega-3 intake either thru a supplement or fatty fish (I have mixed feelings on the vegetarian omega-3. There are so many different opinions. I have always eaten plenty of flax and chia seeds but maybe not enough to get the proper amount of omega-3’s. There is also a plant algae option)
- Cut back on sugar and white flour (no surprise here!)
- Increase antioxidants by eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
- Enjoy chocolate in moderation (quality dark chocolate)
- Utilize herbs such as turmeric, curcumin (found in turmeric), ginger
- Avoid trans-fats (hydrogenated oils)
- Identify any food allergies or intolerances
- Tart cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties
Keep in mind that inflammation is not always a bad thing as it is necessary for the healing process. My focus here is chronic inflammation. I am aware that some people may never know their C-reactive protein level or don’t care to know. I like finding out what’s going on in my body and just want to feel my best and live a healthy life. By following these suggestions, you will help fine-tune your inflammatory system and encourage overall health!
Do you take a fish oil supplement?
Do you do anything in particular to ease inflammation?