The Phenomenon of C-Reactive Protein and Inflammation

Is your inflammatory personality elevating your C-reactive protein and setting you up for chronic disease?

'The truth shall make you free, but first it shall make you angry.' ~ Author Unknown

The Blood Test

C-reactive protein has been receiving a lot of attention recently. This laboratory test for a specific protein found in your blood does not diagnose anything in particular. However it is very important because it is a marker for inflammation in your body, for either acute inflammation or chronic inflammation.

What this means is that we can now detect an inflammatory process that is present in your body. Inflammation is a precursor to almost all known diseases.

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If you didn’t hear that, I will say it again: Inflammation is a precursor to almost all known diseases. All you need to do is an internet search on "disease and inflammation" and you will get enough reading to last a lifetime.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is simply your body’s response to invasion of bacteria or other harmful stimuli. Inflammation can be acute, i.e. short term or chronic i.e. long term.

Acute inflammation occurs after you have been injured, exposed to an irritant or have an infection. Think of what happens when you have a bee sting.

The inflammatory response is the same thing. The area gets hot, red, swollen and painful, or "inflamed" as your body’s defenders rush in through the bloodstream.

These defenders are the cells of your immune system at work. The C-reactive protein is one of these defenders. There are many more, but none is used as frequently as C-reactive protein.

Acute inflammation in the short term is truly your friend. It is the process that takes care of the harmful stimuli and allows you to heal.

Chronic inflammation is a whole different animal. Inflammation over the long term is your foe! As I said earlier, chronic inflammation is the precursor to most known diseases.

Chronic inflammation is your body’s immune system gone awry. It can no longer handle the constant and regular low-level invasion of harmful stimuli that it is experiencing. Because of system overload, it can no longer effectively clear these harmful stimuli.

This is why your doctor may add the C-reactive protein test to your blood testing. If she feels you are living an unhealthy lifestyle, the test will allow her to understand if you might be at risk for chronic inflammatory diseases.

Your doctor may also use this test to determine if you have had a flare up of your chronic inflammation that is seen in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome and many others.

Chronic inflammation and chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, hepatitis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and plenty of others go hand-in-hand.

The hs CRP or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein test is especially useful to predict heart disease and your risk of a future heart attack or stroke. If you wish to learn more about this, I recommend the American Heart Association website for more information.

Acute inflammation is your friend, chronic inflammation is your foe.

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

So how does your body get into this situation? How does this system overload start? 

Chronic inflammation in your body is caused by lifestyle choices that are harmful to you. For reasons not always clearly known, but understood from the last decade of research studies, unhealthy lifestyle habits are the single most important reason chronic inflammation exists. Over time, these behaviors cause undue stress on your body that it can no longer handle and dis-ease is created.

The first creator of chronic inflammation is chronic and exhaustive exercise. This is not your everyday garden variety. It is exercise that is performed to extreme fatigue on a regular basis without rest and recovery days in-between.

I discuss this phenomenon in my articles on Exercise Bulimia and Aerobic Exercise. Simply stated, exercise that causes undue stress on your body is no longer healthy, but in fact, detrimental.

The second creator of chronic inflammation, as evidenced by C-reactive protein is Stress, with a capital "S." Leading an inflammatory lifestyle where you are always putting out the fires, will lead you down the path to chronic disease.

Half Peak, San Juan Mountains, ColoradoHalf Peak, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

The third creator of elevated levels of C-reactive protein is simply aging. Bummer. More reason than ever to keep your healthy lifestyle habits intact!

The fourth creator of inflammation is lack of sleep. How many times have you heard this? All I have to say is the words of Benjamin Franklin: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!

The fifth creator of elevated levels of C-reactive protein, overeating, is not as straightforward as it seems. When your body is given an excessive amount of calories, it rises to the task of processing them and storing them. The acute inflammatory process easily handles this task and the body soon reverts to homeostasis. However, if the process is repeated on a continual basis the effects of hyperinsulinemia take their toll and chronic dis-ease like diabetes develops.

Closely tied with overeating is poor eating. To specifically reduce your C-reactive protein you can eat anti-inflammatory foods. These are foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids: cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, halibut and tuna, walnuts, ground flax seeds, soybeans, kidney beans and navy beans, tofu and winter squash. Eating whole foods and lots of fruits and vegetables will help. See my full discussion in my articles on Healthy Eating and Healthy Diet.

The sixth creator of chronic inflammation is obesity, the direct result of overeating. No matter what anyone says, obesity is a body-mind-soul issue. It is not a surgical issue or a purely physical issue. There is more than enough convincing literature on the hazards of obesity, that I will not deal with the subject here.

To summarize, inflammatory habits and conditions are:

  • Chronic Exhaustive Exercise
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Overeating/Poor Eating
  • Obesity

What Reduces Chronic Inflammation?

In order to get healthy, if you have inflammatory habits, the following can reduce your inflammatory response in your body:

  • Keep calories low
  • Keep body fat low
  • Eat foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Avoid exhaustive exercise
  • Red Algae, Astaxanthin, may reduce your CRP

Easier said than done, isn’t it? In order to keep your calories low and your body fat percentage low, you must lose weight if you are overweight. Calorie restriction and short-term fasting are anti-inflammatory. I cover this topic in Healthy Weight Loss. Weight loss can decrease your inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein.

There are promising studies that show that red algae may help you reduce your CRP by up to 20%, according to Suzy Cohen, R Ph and contributor to the Huffington Post, without the side effects of prescription anti-inflammatories. Click here to see her article supporting the use of Astaxanthin. Talk to your health care practitioner to see if Astaxanthin is appropriate for you!

Do You Have an Inflammatory Personality?

Did you notice that in my above recommendations, that I made no mention of any psychological or spiritual aspects of inflammation? Isn’t this a body-mind-soul website? To my credit, I did discuss stress. And I did discuss inflammation in a metaphorical way as it relates to stress. Humm…. now you are getting the picture.

Back to the original quote and the subject of anger. What does anger have to do with anything? If health is a body-mind-soul issue, then the way that you deal with life and its situations has everything to do with your levels of stress, doesn’t it?

My website is loaded with articles addressing the subject of denied emotions and the damage that they can do to your body-mind-soul.

Anger, is perhaps the single most damaging emotion, that if suppressed will surely lead to chronic inflammation, as expressed in your body’s C-reactive protein levels.

It is a well-known phenomenon that depression is anger turned inwards. Anger and depression go hand-in-hand. I agree that this explanation is over-simplified.

However, no matter how you look at it, anger equals inflammation. If your most common response to your situations in life is anger, you have an inflammatory personality.

Does it make you wonder that even the medical community inadvertently called this a body-mind-soul phenomenon by calling the test c-REACTIVE protein! The use of the word 'reactive' speaks volumes, doesn't it? All of us are guilty of over-reacting to everything in our lives!

The Buddha said, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

It has also been said that anyone who angers you, conquers you. Anger is disappointed expectations, in ourselves, in others and in life isn’t it?

I know all about this, because instead of showing my anger overtly, I often have it on low simmer most of the time! It is the story of my ears, in my article Nothing is Hidden. I have to work hard to unlearn the anger response that I was taught.

Anger is so damaging to your body, mind and soul! If you learn to acknowledge your anger, feel it and release it, you can be free of chronic inflammation! Read my article on How Emotions Affect Our Body, to learn how to manage your strong emotions.

May your path to wholeness and health be evidenced by your lowered levels of C-reactive protein! May your inflammatory personality be cooled by your new-found healthy lifestyle choices. May you be healed, in body-mind-soul!

'In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.' ~ Psalm 4:4

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