Are You GOING DOWN IN FLAMES?
How can you tell if you suffer from chronic inflammation? One indicator is an elevated blood level of C-reactive protein, which the body produces in response to inflammation. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School monitored over 28,000 healthy, postmenopausal women for three years and found that CRP was the strongest predictor of heart disease compared with 11 other links, including LDL cholesterol.
Although not currently part of routine lab work, a high-sensitivity CRP test is in order for anyone with a risk of developing a disease linked to inflammation. "If you have a family history of heart disease, or an inflammatory condition such as gingivitis--especially if you smoke--ask your physician for a CRP test," advises Ronald E. Hunninghake, M.D. "The CRP test is appropriate for people of any age who are at risk."
Foods That Feed The Fire
Wheat, eggs, milk, soybeans, yeast, and meat are among the most common inflammatory foods. Meat contains inflammation-promoting arachidonic acid; beef has the highest content, double the amount in lamb, pork, or chicken. Eggs and dairy products also contain arachidonic acid, but in lower amounts.
Ironically, well-intentioned advice to consume vegetable oils rather than saturated-fat-rich butter has led to a multifold increase in the intake of omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation. Popular vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn, peanut, soy, cottonseed, and (regular) safflower are high in inflammatory omega-6s.
Choose free-range chicken, turkey, or duck, which receive a natural grass feed rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Dairy is fine to eat unless it upsets your system, which could trigger inflammation. Make a point of buying eggs with extra omega-3s. And avoid foods that cause inflammation-provoking spikes in blood sugar, such as sugary drinks, refined white flour, and fried potatoes.