Did you know that in 1900, heart disease was the 4th leading cause of death and that pneumonia; tuberculosis and diarrhea were the top three? Why is heart disease number one now? Lifestyle choices: poor diet, pollution and lack of exercise. We might modify the old saying, “We dig our graves with our forks” by adding, “And our TV remote controls.” However, we can protect ourselves from inflammation with a few blood tests and preventative action.
Most of the soda and processed fast foods we eat create silent inflammation throughout the body. You won’t know you have it unless you end up with a heart attack, arthritis, or diabetes. Or you could be proactive and get a blood test to look for elevated homocysteine and C-reactive protein. Both of these marker indicate your risk for heart disease, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in leg) and pulmonary embolism (blockage in artery in lungs) another degenerative disease including Alzheimer’s.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is a breakdown product from consuming animal protein. The concern is that the elevated homocysteine levels are dangerous, which may be associated with hardening or narrowing of the arteries. The primary solution is to eat more vegetables and fruits (that doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian.) These foods supply phytochemicals that are protective and are nutrient rich compounds only found in nature. Kale and collard greens are at the top of the list of the beneficial vegetables. Super fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, mangosteen, Gogi and pomegranate can also provide super antioxidants to fight the damaging free radicals.
C-reactive protein is found in the blood and as inflammation rises, so does C0reactive protein (CRP.) The liver and fat cells produce CRP. Many physicians track this number with more concern that elevated cholesterol. An elevated CRP reading can be indicative of infection or cancer and it is the only marker that independently predicts the risk of a heart attack. A high sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) test is designed for greater accuracy by measuring low levels of this protein in the blood. The lower the levels, the less risk of heart disease. The objective is to keep the levels low by eating fiber rich vegetables and fruits.
A third blood test to consider is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D DiaSorin assay. The very latest information about inflammation involves vitamin D (D3) deficiency. The 24 million American Type II diabetics are especially affected by D3 deficiency. New research published in a recent edition of Circulation; a journal of the American Heart Association, revealed that vitamin D inhibits the uptake of cholesterol by the white blood cells (macrophages.) And as the macrophages get clogged up with cholesterol, they produce foam cells. These foam cells are early markers of atherosclerosis (inflammation from plaque in the arteries.) The good news is that the researchers, led by Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi, MD, noted that it may be possible to delay or reverse atherosclerosis by obtaining adequate levels of D3.
“The Problem With Our Health Care System… is that we have too many sick people. We have the most expensive health care in the world and some of the sickest and most inflamed population on the planet.
It is our model of health care that is not healthy, since our system does not value preventative care; it is up to each of us to take the responsibility for our own wellness. Let’s strive to be independently healthy!”
Resources: Circulation, Volume 12, Number 8, Pages 687-698
Sandra Lowry, CNC
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Ms. Lowry speaks to groups and does individual nutritional assessments. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (479) 715-6772