When I talk about protein, it’s usually in a good way. In fact, in my most recent blog post, I mentioned how most patients I see don’t eat enough protein. But there’s one type of protein that you definitely don’t want to have too much of. It’s not actually a protein that you eat. Rather, it’s a protein that’s found in your blood: C-Reactive Protein, or CRP for short.
Why is C-Reactive Protein bad?
CRP itself isn’t necessarily bad. But just like cholesterol, too much of it can be dangerous. If you have high levels of C-reactive protein, it means that your body has a lot of hidden inflammation.
Now, before I go any further, let me explain what hidden inflammation is. Unlike acute inflammation, which occurs in response to getting an ouchie on your finger or when you get a headache or sore throat, hidden inflammation is chronic. And it’s an indication that there’s something going on under the hood.
According to the Mayo Clinic, high levels of CRP is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke.
How can you tell if you have levels of CRP? You can ask your doctor to test you for it. Your doctor may or may not know to order an hs-CRP test, which stands for high-sensitivity.
A better option in my biased opinion is to work one-on-one with me. Believe me, I’m not squeamish when it comes to blood. I’m a Nurse Practitioner working in an ER setting. As a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, I can offer you much greater insight into what’s going in your body than a conventional blood test.
For instance, one of the diagnostic services I offer is called GenPath. GenPath tests for a wide variety of markers including thyroid, fasting insulin and A1C, vitamin D, iron, food allergy, cortisol, and yes, CRP.
What Causes High Levels of CRP?
Mainstream medical websites emphasize lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking. No doubt, lifestyle factors definitely have a big influence on your CRP level. But there’s something else that’s responsible for high CRP levels that’s often overlooked: underlying infections.
This is why the GenPath test also detects for Epstein-Barr Virus, Lupus (which is a risk factor for Epstein-Barr), and other autoimmune diseases that perplex conventional medicine.
Can High CRP Be Reversed?
Yes! But getting back to the lifestyle factors that may cause high levels of CRP, most articles online are boring lectures. “Eat a healthy diet that’s low in sugar, blah blah blah. Exercise more.”
This advice is totally on point. But the problem is that when you’re dealing with people who have been eating the same way for years if not decades, that advice falls on deaf ears. And the advice to exercise regularly? How can someone who has chronic pain that can’t bend over to tie their shoes exercise?
This is why outside of my day job as a NP, I coach people on exactly what foods to eat. The foods I recommend are based on your unique DNA. When it comes to nutrition, there isn’t a one-size fits all!
Before someone gets on a treadmill or is able to go for walks, the chronic, underlying infection must be cleared so that inflammation can go back to normal. Only then will chronic pain subside and activity will be enjoyable.
In addition, I can also recommend exactly which supplements you can take that will help lower your CRP. And in functional medicine, we also believe that sometimes, the pharmaceutical approach is necessary. Perhaps a low-dose statin can be used in conjunction with more “natural” approaches.
Getting tested for C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the best and easiest investments in your health. If you want to really resolve the underlying problems that have been preventing you from living your best life, consider working with a functional medicine practitioner. The good news is that I have partnered with a diabetes & wellness clinic that takes insurance.
Check out how to get in touch with me here.
Until next time,
Jenna Witt, NP