What is CRP and what does it have to do with your health?
What is CRP?
CRP (C-reactive protein) can be tested in the blood to detect the presence of inflammation in the body. This protein is produced by the liver in response to elements released from certain white blood cells known as macrophages; as well as elements released from fat cells (adipocytes.) CRP levels rise in the presence of inflammation and take on a role to bind with chemical compounds that are released on the surface of a dying or dead cell. This process is part of an immune system response to enhance the ability of antibodies and bacteria/pathogen eating cells (phagocytic cells) to eliminate damaged cells from the body. Certain chronic inflammatory conditions cause the release of IL-6 (interleukin-6) that trigger the release of CRP. IL-6 is a type of immune protein in the family of cytokines that can act as both an anti-inflammatory and a pro-inflammatory.
As discussed in previous blog posts, inflammation is a normal body process necessary for our body's response to fight infection and injury. It is a natural part of our immune system's ability to send white blood cells and other chemical compounds to a trouble area of the body in an effort to help it heal. However, in the presence of chronic conditions such as Arthritis, Colitis, Bursitis, Tendonitis, Gout, Heart Disease, Asthma, Diabetes, and more - the constant "fire" of inflammation can be disastrous, even deadly.
A relationship between elevated CRP and heart disease/heart attacks has been strongly established, individual of other outside factors such as high cholesterol. Cardiac studies have shown a 6-fold increase in risk of cardiac death amongst those with elevated CRP levels of 4.2mg-dL and higher, compared to some of the lowest CRP levels of 1.2mg-dL. Anything less than 1.0mg-dL is optimal, with 1.0-3.0 being considered borderline, and 3.0 and higher considered problematic.
What can contribute to persistent inflammation and high CRP levels?
Eating too much sugar and white flour
Poor and Overly Acidic Diet
Lack of Physical Activity
Alcohol in Excess
Lack of Vitamins and Nutrients such as Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Allergies (particularly food allergies)
Can a CRP test diagnose conditions like Gout?
Not necessarily, although it can help in combination with other tests more specific to a condition. As a matter of fact, a study published in March of 2011 in the "International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics" found that men with high serum uric acid levels did not necessarily have high CRP levels. Oddly enough, many people go through much of their life with high uric acid in their blood without the presence of gout attacks. Unless the uric acid transitions from a soluble state in the blood and moves into the joints where it crystallizes, the body isn't like to experience inflammation as a result. The inflammation, and consequently the rise in CRP levels, takes place once those crystals begin attacking and damaging your joints.
Your CRP levels can be determined by a simple blood test, but can't accurately paint the picture as to a specific ailment that may be causing raised levels. A high CRP level could indicate any number of problems, but can't pinpoint the area or cause of the inflammation.
Having said that, are we too focused on a specific diagnosis when it comes to chronic inflammatory conditions? If we take all into consideration, are we better off chasing after and resolving the inflammation itself? Should we stop worrying about where it may have settled simply to have a "name" to the pain and destruction?
What can you do?
IF you are interested in avoiding non-stop testing and being a guinea pig for prescription drugs options, then the answer is YES! You can reduce inflammation, and in turn lower the CRP levels, all while dealing with any related chronic condition safely and naturally.Drastically reduce or eliminate sugar and white flour all together.
Get moving! Exercise can be a huge step in the right direction. If you are new to exercise, start slowly and listen to your body.
Aim towards achieving a healthy weight through diet and exercise. Avoid crash and fad diets as they are not sustainable long-term.
Reduce or eliminate alcohol.
Stay hydrated! Drink enough purified water each day as your body weight would require. (1/2oz per pound of body weight adjusted up when heavy sweating and activity)
Aim for the majority of your meals (70%-80%) to consist of fresh vegetables, herbs, fermented foods, and some fruits (watch natural sugar amounts, too.)If you smoke, please stop....for multiple reasons.
Take an Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplement such as Krill Oil.
Be sure you have enough vitamins and nutrients each day. Supplementation can help here, as well.
Consider consulting a Naturopathic doctor or company that offers top notch anti-inflammatory solutions.