February is National Heart Health month, and it’s alarming to know that one in three – or over 79,000,000 – American adults have cardiovascular disease (CVD). According to the National Center for Health Statistics, average life expectancy in America could increase by almost seven years if all forms of major CVD were eliminated. Fortunately, you have the power to protect and improve your heart health through your lifestyle choices. Looking at inflammatory markers and then making some changes in diet can impact overall heart disease risk factors.
One of the most powerful predictors of cardiovascular disease is a test called, Hs-CRP. This measures the c-reactive protein, which is an immune system protein made by the liver in response to recent injury or infection. As a person is injured, c-reactive protein levels go up drastically, but then return to normal within one to two months. If the number remains high, this could indicate an underlying health problem that must be explored and discovered. Elevated levels of Hs-CRP that are unrelated to injury or trauma usually have something do with chronic inflammation, sedentary lifestyle, diets consisting of large amounts of refined sugar and processed foods, obesity, and heavy stress. Chronic inflammation is directly related to diseases like arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes. The test is a simple blood test and does not require fasting. It is ideal to avoid exercise for 24 hours to minimize any inflammatory response which could make the test unreliable. Also, being healthy at the time of the test makes a more accurate result, since any illness can increase the levels. Once the Hs-CRP is available, you can make changes to lower the level and decrease risk for diseases.
Along with healthy exercise, which consists of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio training and weight management per week, nutrition changes are essential to lowering chronic inflammation. Eating foods that have anti- inflammatory effects is a key component. A few of the foods containing high anti-inflammatory properties include:
- Spices such as turmeric, cumin, and curry
- Ginger, garlic, chives, mint, leeks, onions, and shallots
- Colorful fruits – berries ,pomegranate, and citrus fruits
- Dark colored vegetables – bell peppers, seaweed, mushrooms, and broccoli
- Green tea
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Red wine/grape seeds
As with any change to your health, if you are on medications or have any health concerns, it’s always advised to consult your provider before making changes.
To find out what your Hs-CRP level is and what you can do to reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, schedule an appointment at the LiVe Well Center today and have an evaluation by a team of skilled clinicians.