Inflammation Evaluation and Dietary Approaches
- hsCRP- which stands for high sensitivity C reactive protein. This marker increases in your blood when there’s inflammation in your body. It doesn’t tell us where the inflammation is coming from it just tells us there is general inflammation. This test is more sensitive than a standard C reactive proteins test. It can also be used to assess your risk of coronary artery disease
- Ferritin- Traditionally we think of it as a test for low iron stores, but it is also something called an acute phase reactant. When it is elevated, it can be a sign of inflammation
- WBC- White blood cell count is also an acute phase reactant. When elevated, it can be a marker of infection, ongoing inflammation or even allergic response.
- Omega-3 index- tells us the ratio of anti-inflammatory fat stores which are the omega-3‘s, (found in cold water fish, flax, walnut and chia) to more inflammatory fats, which are the omega 6’s. Omega 6’s (which are found in vegetable oils, red meat, diary and shellfish amongst others) are a precursor to Arachidonic acid, which is a pro inflammatory ecosanoid. Ecosanoids are signaling molecules found in the cell membrane of all mammalian cells. Arachnoid acid in particular is the precursor to prostaglandins and leukotrienes- which are responsible for pain and allergic signals in the body. It’s actually the pathway on which Motrin and anti-allergy pills work. So limiting the amount of Arachidonic acid in the diet can be very helpful to modulate these pathways and shifting the balance away from inflammation. An ideal omega 6/Omega 3 ration is 4:1.
- Fasting insulin is another test that is very helpful because insulin resistance is under diagnosed and can be a driver for inflammation. By checking a fasting insulin, we can catch insulin resistance in earlier stages and work on reversing it
We also have several advanced tests called functional tests in our practice that check for inflammation. One of the foundational tests we do is a stool microbiome test. It includes several inflammatory markers:
- Fecal calprotectin- Is a marker of neutrophil driven inflammation. It’s produced in sights of inflammation in the colon and this biomarker has been useful in differentiating between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Fecal secretory IgA is a marker of gut secretory immunity and barrier function. This is your colon’s first line defense and mucosal lining support.
- Optimize blood sugar balance- by eating lower glycemic foods and balancing with fiber and healthy fat. Eliminate simple sugars and refined carbs. At Root we spend some time with each client talking about protein fat and carbohydrate balance PFC with every meal. We know that diets high in glycemic load are positively associated with inflammation by increasing plasma hsCRP. Hyperglycemia can actually overproduce oxidative stress in the body.
- Eat an antioxidant rich diet found in plants- mainly deeply pigmented veggies but also fruit. At Root we have a 30 plant challenge for clients where we try to have people eat 30 different plant based colors throughout the week. Roughly 4-5 servings per day. Plants are rich in something called Phytonutrients, which are the natural components of plants and have powerful antioxidant properties. Each color group has its own health benefit. For example the red colored plants which include tomatoes, raspberries, pomegranate seeds are rich in lycopene which may protect against cancers of the prostate, breast & skin as well as reduce risk of heart attacks.
- Increase the amount of omega-3 (EPA/DHA) fats in the diet (found in cold water fish, flax, walnut and chia) which are anti-inflammatory. In the Western diet, often people will need to supplement with fish oil, at least temporarily, to bring these levels up. Our favorite fish oil supplement is our Root Omega 3. EPA also blocks the metabolism of Arachidonic acid. Zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins are important coenzymes for metabolism of omega3s so it’s important to get enough of these in diet as well.
- Increase the amount of fiber you eat. Aim for 25 to 35 g of dietary fiber per day. All plants have fiber. Eat more nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to achieve this goal. Fiber increases the energy density of the diet and slows absorption in the gut for a lower glycemic index. The chemical structures of fiber may have inherent anti-inflammatory activities. Fiber promotes the growth of the good bacteria in your microbiome resulting in decreased amount of bad or pathogenic bacteria, positive immune system regulation, and anti-inflammatory bacterial metabolites, such as butyrate. Butyrate is produced when good bacteria breakdown/ferment fiber into Short chain fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory for the colon.
- Eliminate hydrogenated oils and trans fats.
- Intermittent fasting- can reduce reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in your system and it’s free. Avoid fasting for more than 16 hour stretches as this can slow down your thyroid function and metabolism.
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