Inflammation has been linked to many serious health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer’s. Inflammation shows your body is trying to repair itself, but something is lacking or preventing it from maintaining homeostasis. The inflammation can be due to toxins in the body, food allergies, and low levels of antioxidants or essential nutrients that your body needs to function. Long-term inflammation represents a long-term deficiency in what your body needs to perform cellular repair which can lead to serious health issues.
Therefore, monitoring the inflammatory process going on in your body is a key to maintaining good health. There are lab tests that your doctor can perform for you that will help you both monitor how much inflammation is going on in your body. One of these tests is the C-reactive Protein (CRP). CRP is a protein made by the liver in response to your immune system being activated by an infection or an inflammatory condition. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein are seen with conditions such as:
- Bacterial, fungal, parasitic, or viral infections
- Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Myocardial infarction or loss of blood supply to an organ
- Trauma including burns and cuts
- Being overweight
- Coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis
- Pain from things such as tendonitis and fibromyalgia
In order to reduce the inflammation causing an elevated CRP, you need to look at reducing possible toxins in your body and possible food sensitivities. You also need to look at increasing levels of antioxidants. Lastly, look at supplementing or increasing key nutrients that are needed for energy production or other metabolic functions in your body. Nutrients that appear to help reduce CRP levels include vitamin C, flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids, and high fiber foods.
Another lab test that your doctor can use to monitor inflammation is homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood and shows how well your body can perform detoxification and DNA repair. Elevated homocysteine levels can shrink your brain, dull your reflexes and lead to depression. High homocysteine levels can also enhance free radical damage in your arteries causing plaque formation. Homocysteine levels can be lowered with supplementation with vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid.
If you have a family history of diseases that are associated with inflammation or already suffer from one of those diseases, you may want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about monitoring your homocysteine and C-reactive protein levels. From there you can systematically look at what’s causing the inflammation and try to reduce it to help you maintain a healthy life.