- Dennis Lipton, MD
Reduce your CRP
Reducing hsCRP is important for reduction of chronic disease risk. Your goal is to get it under 1, or even less than 0.5. If it’s 1-3 it’s considered ‘moderate’ risk. Over 3 is considered elevated risk. If it’s over 10 there may be a serious problem, and it should be investigated. Here’s a short list of things to pay attention to, and that have been shown in studies to reduce inflammation and CRP:
1. Treat any infection: If you had an infection at the time of your blood draw, even just a cold, it can impact the level. Also make sure you don’t have a subclinical infection with no symptoms such as gingivitis, sinusitis, or urinary tract infection. Discuss with your doctor.
2. Rule out autoimmune/autoinflammatory disease: Things like polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), rheumatoid arthritis, Sarcoidosis, or Crohn’s Disease can present subtly with minimal symptoms, but elevated inflammatory markers. This is another cause of seriously elevated CRP (ie over 10 or even into the hundreds).
3. Get Good sleep: Getting optimal amounts of natural quality sleep reduces stress hormones and optimizes blood sugar balance, which results in lower CRP. It’s also essential for optimal health. People with untreated sleep apnea and irregular sleep patterns such as night shift workers, have higher CRP. Melatonin is OK to use in low doses but powerful sedatives don’t work.
4. Time-restricted eating: This sounds really simple, but it has been proven. People who go at least 12 hours a day without consuming calories get lower CRP. Increasing to 14 hours can help even more. (This means giving yourself a 10-12 hour feeding window each day. Breakfast starts at 8… dinner ends at 6 or 7, or similar schedule).
5. Avoid sugar: Sugar and simple carbohydrates are pro-inflammatory. This effect is magnified greatly by the combination of sugar and saturated fat.
6. Exercise: Any type of exercise helps. Aim for at least 30 minutes of some kind of movement, even just walking, most days of the week.
7. Nutrient dense food: Focusing on whole foods like leafy greens and other vegetables, fruits like berries, nuts and seeds can lower CRP.
8. Decrease bad fats: Human consumption of processed vegetable oils has increased 20-fold in the last 100-150 yrs as our food supply has become commoditized and processed. Trans fats have also been developed. This makes for convenient, inexpensive calories, but unfortunately we are paying the price. These easily oxidized oils are directly converted into inflammatory mediators.
9. Increase good fats: Omega-3s are directly converted into anti-inflammatory mediators. Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and algae are great plant sources. For those who eat fish, focus on the SMASH (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring). Careful of your sources. Consider supplements. These blood levels can be checked.
10. Reduce stress: Yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness practices are shown to reduce stress physiology and inflammatory mediators which reduces CRP.
11. Check vitamin levels: Deficiency of B vitamins or fat-soluble vitamins or magnesium can keep your body in a state of inflammation. Talk to your doctor and have levels checked before embarking on any aggressive supplement program. Improving the quality of your diet is always the preferred way to get nutrients.
12. Probiotics: One study showed that 8 weeks of probiotics helped reduce CRP.
13. Spice it up!: Many spices such as turmeric, ginger, cloves, mint, and hot peppers have anti-inflammatory properties. Use liberally!
14. Indulge in coffee or tea: Antioxidants and polyphenols in coffee and especially green tea can help lower CRP. Just watch the added sugar.
15. DON’T indulge in alcohol: Red wine is the only exception. One or two glasses a day at most is acceptable.
It's OK if you are unable to do ALL of these. Just do what you can and you may be amazed at the results. Let me know if you find any simple tricks to reduce inflammation!