My nurse practitioner said I have high levels of a blood protein that shows I have inflammation and need to make some changes or take medicine. Can you help me understand this?
We think your clinician is referring to C-reactive protein. The liver produces this in response to a wide variety of inflammatory triggers: infections; burns (and other kinds of tissue trauma); chronic diseases in which the immune system attacks the body; obesity; smoking; diets high in saturated fats, sugars, and processed foods; and even lack of exercise.
Inflammation is a normal bodily response to an insult or trigger. Some triggers are acute, meaning that the injury or infection provokes a response over a short period of time (minutes to a few days). Because these usually produce redness, swelling, pain, decreased function, or heat at the site of injury, this kind of inflammation is alarming and addressed quickly. Other triggers are chronic and ongoing; their effects accumulate slowly over time and may not be noticed until their often-irreparable dirty work is done.
Our current scientific understanding is that chronic, low-grade inflammation is a silent killer since it contributes to causing cancer, diabetes, dementia, and cardiovascular disease, among others. It is estimated that three out of every five people around the world die from an inflammation-linked condition! If your C-reactive protein is higher than normal and not at the acute injury levels, then a potentially dangerous disease or condition may be “cooking” unnoticed.
Here are SEVEN things that may decrease inflammation while you continue under medical supervision:
Eat a diet rich in color: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats (plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds and walnuts); avoid highly processed and sugary foods. Use spices and herbs with anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric, ginger, or garlic.
Engage in regular exercise: move, strengthen, and get flexible. Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, along with strength and flexibility training.
Ensure adequate, good-quality sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours per night to support optimal immune function.
Maintain a healthy weight by losing excess fat, especially around the waistline (a reflection of the fat around your internal organs)
Breathe free: If you smoke anything, STOP! If you don’t smoke, don’t start. (Research shows that there can be a dramatic reduction in inflammation within a few weeks of smoking cessation.)
Avoid alcoholic beverages; they complicate and contribute more than they help. There is no safe level of alcohol intake. Manage stress. We are aware that stress is a major issue these days, and the effects even in children and adolescents are devastating. See a Christian counselor or mental health professional while you seek the help of the Master Physician: “Cast your cares [anxieties, worries] upon Him; He cares for [is concerned about and will take care of] you” (1 Peter 5:7, paraphrased).