Friday, February 13, 2015

Celebrating Heart Health and Valentine's Day 2015, effective tools in lowering my hs-CRP

Okay, I'm celebrating Valentine's Day and Heart Health 2015 in one post.
Valentines celebration with flowers not food!

One of the best things I can do for true heart health is to attempt to keep my inflammation markers, including hs-CRP low.

 By keeping my weight in a normal range, I do far more than wear a lower number on my jeans. I keep my inflammation markers low. As a middle aged woman at almost 49, I'm at a higher risk for  stroke based on my personal family history. There are a lot of inflammation markers, but for today's post, lets look at hs-CRP. High Sensitivity- C-reactive protein.

WARNING: Now to be fair, you could have other things causing high inflammation (viral infections, bacterial infections, auto-immune disease, arthritis, etc)  DO check with your doctor about your own personal hs-CRP values your family history, geneotype, etc. DON'T make decisions without your own trusted medical team. I'm only posting what worked for me. I am NOT YOU. I'm one person who found a way to make it work. Your path may be different, that's okay. Also look at other lab values like your lipid panel, your glucose, HA1c.  Read more here at my favorite peer reviewed site for lab tests (favorite because non-lab people can read it and understand)
hs-CRP test

Here's what is working for me so far, over about 4 years.

1. Keeping my weight in the normal range. Yes, my fat cells will signal hormonally higher inflammation hormones and pathways.I  know this as I used to perform the lab tests for those markers!!!!

 Real life meets biology. Not only were the answers inside of me, I made a career out of the answers that were inside of me. Whoa! Funny and ironic, but having an extensive background didn't stop me from living on the inflammatory side for many years.

 I embrace my inner lab geek.  Rather than blame and shame, I stick to low inflammatory foods and good support for weight management and dealing with what I believe to be food addiction. All keep me at a normal weight. (one of many articles about fat cells causing inflammatory response)

2. I eat foods and keep habits that keep my hs-CRP values as low as possible:
 Paleo-ish food template:
Protein: eggs, grass-fed beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, sometimes turkey.
Fat: coconut oil, fat from grass fed meat, avocados, olive oil
Veggies: All non-starchy veggies (except winter squashes and some peppers)
Spices: YES, lots of them
Salt: sea salts work nicely for me on a low carb, higher fat approach.
Sleep: Yes

Strength training: Yes

Stress management: yes- walking, photography

Keeping positive people around me: yes, it's true, keep good friends around you = better outcome. Lower cortisol. This includes real life and online-IMO.

Time management: prioritize the above, gives me time to stay well

3. hs-CRP from 2008 to 2014. The tale of obesity (high inflammation) vs weight loss (lower inflammation) vs long term weight management (sustained low inflammation)

3.a Eat the SAD, be inflamed (grains, processed sugars in moderation, low fat-high carb)
3.b Lose weight, stop eating sugar and wheat
3.c Transition to no sugars, no grains (#NSNG for the win!!!)
3.d Whole30 in Jan 2013, remove dairy, dried fruit, stopped having migraines and deep cystic acne. (see what foods I gave up for my Whole30),
3.e. April-May 2013: gave up nuts, stopped having migraines, stopped having most binge urges.
3.f. Went lower carb overall 40-50 grams/day higher fat ,during menopause- easier weight management and sleep.
3.g I'm not bullet proof- I did have some dental inflammation in the second half of 2014. 

What didn't work in the  past:

1. Morbid obesity was a symptom of many things: likely food addiction, binge eating, ineffective habits and behaviors. Trying to fit into a moderate food world when I needed to abstain. Better late than never. It feels super good to put theory (all the stuff I learned in lab science in the late 1980's) into practice. I let go of the shame and the blame of being obese.

2. Eating high inflammatory food on the Standard American diet- think WW frozen meals, 1 point bags of M&M's , moderating junk food was like smoking a shorter cigarette. Low dose junk food did NOT work for me. (I was so proud of my snacking ways, now I use snack sized zip locks to store chicken liver-LOL!!!)

3. Not working quickly enough to change things when I knew they needed changing. I needed to take charge

High hs-CRP in 2009 vs Low hs-CRP 2014

Okay, have any of my readers looked at their hs-CRP? Has anyone else used diet and lifestyle to reduce inflammation markers? What other markers and ways did you use? It's not all food related for me, but it started with food.


  1. Amazing photo's 2009 to 2014.

    Health does so often start with food, but we are often slow to realise this....... especially when we are younger. Let's face it who at 10 / 20 / even 30 thinks about what their health will be like at 40+ ?

    Of course we should but hey we are talking real life here.

    Great post again Karen - many thanks.

    All the best Jan

    1. Jan, Indeed... as I got older, and looked at my lab values.. well. It was clear my 40's had to be very different from my 20's and 30's. I'm required by my health plan to get my lab's drawn. It would be quite the waist in my health care dollars not to actually use the data to stay the heck away from the health care system.

    2. I mean WASTE ... but how punny.. waist.. whatever! $40 discount a month on my health insurance and I can skip mainstream medical... Yay!

  2. I have not been over to visit and read lately. (sorry) - just wanted to tell you hi. Your then and now photo is terrific!

    1. Jane, thank you for stopping by! I read your blog, every post, but don't always circle back to comment. Hello to you, too and I know you've had a lot on your plate. I admire the way you have been handling it- Kudos!

      I feel so much better now.... whew!

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