In his article about the burning fires of inflammation, Mark Hyman, M.D., asks his readers, “Could something as quick and easy as a blood test save your life?” He answers with a resounding yes and unveils just what this important blood test is and why it’s so significant.
What the good doctor (and many others) is talking about is a C-reactive protein (CRP) test that measures hidden inflammation in your body. He says it’s important to find out if your body is burning up with this elusive inflammation because nearly every facet of health can be adversely affected by it.
Now that’s not to say that all inflammation is bad; it’s not. In fact, inflammation is a natural response of the immune system, which occurs when the body’s white blood cells and their chemicals move in to protect the body from infection and foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.
This natural and healthy form of inflammation is necessary and can actually save us from further infection or injury. In short, good inflammation is one of our body’s first lines of defense and takes its cues from our immune system, the body’s commander-in-chief against invaders.
It’s when the body’s inflammation responses go overboard that trouble can begin. Sometimes, this usually protective and innocuous immune system/inflammation response—good inflammation—can go into overdrive and become persistent, pervasive and potentially devastating.
In fact, the raging fires of prolonged burning, systemic inflammation can cause all sorts of bodily damage and adversely affect bones, joints, tissues, blood vessels, blood sugar, cells and bodily organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and intestines—to name a few. This kind of damaging inflammation can go undetected, too, as many organs don’t have pain-sensitive nerves, and there are virtually no outward signs of the fires within.
Unrelenting chronic inflammation can even create atherosclerosis—a process by which fatty deposits develop in the artery linings—and can weaken artery walls, cause plaque rupture, prompt thrombus formation and embolize the heart’s blood vessels. All of these developments can increase the risk for an unhealthy heart and overall unhealth.
What might add fuel to the fire, so to speak, is that most people aren’t even aware that they’re walking around with unhealthy levels of inflammation—and it’s difficult to effectively deal with something if you don’t even know it’s there.
That’s how a simple, inexpensive blood test may help.
Indicators like C-reactive protein, which is produced by the liver during these excessively fiery times, can be easily noted with this kind of blood test. The truth is that inflammation levels are effectively checked through a C-reactive protein test since CRP levels increase during the inflammation process.
Dr. Hyman points out that, in addition to checking your C-reactive protein levels, you may want to take these steps to quell the burning within: eat a whole foods diet high in inflammation-cooling foods, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, get adequate sleep and supplement your diet when necessary.
What about you? Are you burning up on the inside and not even aware of it?
The answer’s in your blood. Maybe you should check it out.