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Test the overall inflammation level of your body: C-Reactive protein blood test

crpA great number of health books, websites, gurus and guides talk about the inflammation level of the body. The premise of it is that besides local inflammation which happens on-site of a physical injure, there is a more broad, full-body phenomenon of general inflammation, and that eating specific foods can actually affect that general level of inflammation. Some foods are supposed to be good for you and decrease inflammation, others may cause specific allergic reactions, thus increasing the inflammation acutely, and yet other foods which are just generally bad, will increase the inflammation slightly, but continuous consumption of those foods will result in your general inflammation level being chronically higher than it is supposed to be.

Even though many of those sources make blatant claims about foods having inflammatory effects without citing proofs, the phenomenon itself appears to be real, having a lot of scientific proof. It also appears to have a significantly negative effect on your body, and so watching your inflammation level is a very useful, objective and easy way to guide your diet choices in the right direction.

What makes it so objective and practical is the existence of a general inflammation level- test, which is called C-Reactive protein test.

Quoting Wikipedia, (since the page appears to have an established history, lot’s of sources and generally seems to be based on solid science):

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein found in blood plasma, whose levels rise in response to inflammation. CRP is synthesized by the liver in response to factors released by macrophages and fat cells (adipocytes).

CRP rises within two hours of the onset of inflammation, up to a 50,000-fold, and peaks at 48 hours. Its half-life of 18 hours is constant, and therefore its level is determined by the rate of production and hence the severity of the precipitating cause. CRP is thus a screen for inflammation.

CRP is used mainly as a marker of inflammation. Apart from liver failure, there are few known factors that interfere with CRP production.

CRP is a more sensitive and accurate reflection of the acute phase response than the ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate). ESR may be normal while CRP is elevated. CRP returns to normal more quickly than ESR in response to therapy.

That page even mentions a direct link between levels of CRP and risk of CVDs, thus implying that the scientific connection between the two has been widely established. “The risk of developing cardiovascular disease is quantified as follows: …”

“Recent research suggests that patients with elevated basal levels of CRP are at an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease”

“To clarify whether CRP is a bystander or active participant in atherogenesis, a 2008 study compared people with various genetic CRP variants. Those with a high CRP due to genetic variation had no increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with a normal or low CRP.

“Since many things can cause elevated CRP, this is not a very specific prognostic indicator.”

It appears that while a CRP tests for a global level of this protein, and thus the phenomenon has effects affecting the whole body, there can still be different localized origin problems in the body which trigger the increased CRP production in the first place. Luckily, for the purposes of aiding nutrition choices, this does not matter: the goal is to decrease inflammation, no matter what was the exact mechanism behind it.

It is also worth to note that the article does not imply a clinical possibility of there being an inflammation without CRP levels being increased compared to the base for the individual. So even though a CRP test would not yield a definitive answer as to what has caused the inflammation, it seems to be a reliable indicator of at least existence of some kind of it.

 

While I’m in the process of looking at implementing these tests, it’s worth to mention that this company Inside Tracker (no affiliation) claims to provide a CRP test, along with other very useful blood tests (cholesterol, etc.), in a “mail your blood to us” fashion, to anyone interested.

Other than that the general idea is to get a doctor to perform this test, several times, after eating different diets for at least a week.

 

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