Chronic Inflammation: Immune Function Turned Destructive
Inflammation isn’t inherently bad. During times of infection or injury, your body needs to fight germs and dispose of damaged cells. Enter the inflammatory response.
However, too much of a good thing sets in when your body releases inflammation-promoting compounds chronically. It’s like your immune system’s switch gets stuck in the “on” position, creating legions of inflamed cells. Alas, these cells can’t absorb nutrients and expel toxins properly, thus they remain irritated, inflamed, and unable to communicate properly with each other.
Testing for Inflammation
A primary indicator of inflammation has become C- reactive protein (CRP), a liver-secreted protein vital to your body’s immune response. Elevated CRP levels are normal during times of illness, injury, and even pregnancy.
Long-term, however, elevated CRP levels can point to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disorders, and some types of arthritis.
Significantly, Harvard Medical School found elevated levels CRP to increase heart attack risk by 4.5 times. This ratio makes CRP a far more accurate predictor of heart-attack risk – better than either cholesterol or homocysteine levels!
According to the American Heart Association, you should consider a CRP blood test if you have:
- Had a previous heart attack or stroke.
- A family history of cardiovascular disease.
- Elevated total and LDL cholesterol levels.
- Low HDL level.
- High blood pressure.
- Being male or a post-menopausal woman.
- Cigarette smoker.
- Uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Physical inactivity.
- Obesity or being overweight.
Your health care provider can discuss if a CRP test is right for you. Meanwhile, can fortifying your diet with fiber help fight inflammation?
Fiber: New Ally in Fighting Inflammation
If you thought fiber was just for breakfast cereal, think again. Fiber is suddenly a hot research topic, with evidence mounting that fiber supports everything from cardiovascular and intestinal to colon health!
Most recently, fiber emerged as a new ally in fighting inflammation. According to a collection of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, high fiber intake is closely linked with reducing inflammation and its marker, C-reactive protein (CRP).
Several studies are showing fiber intake to have an inverse relationship with your CRP levels. This means the higher your fiber intake, the lower your measured CRP will be. Three cheers for oat bran, prunes, and roughage of all sorts!
Researchers aren’t yet sure exactly what role fiber plays in CRP levels, but they suspect fiber’s association with maintaining healthy intestinal flora supports anti- inflammatory and antioxidative processes.