CRP or C-reactive protein, is a biomarker for inflammation. It is a protein that increases when there are high levels of inflammation present, and so can be good indicator of infection, injury, or a poor diet. As inflammation is linked to heart disease, lowering your levels will help to keep your heart healthy.
CRP will increase immediately in response to intense exercise but should return to normal within 20 hours. So, if you’re an athlete or exercise regularly, measuring your CRP level can help you to calculate the recovery time needed between sessions or after and event.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to fighting off things that it thinks will harm it like toxins, bacteria, viruses and injuries and is part of the body’s immune response.
If an invader or an injury is detected, an immune response is triggered and the cells in your immune system release chemicals and antibodies to help fight it off as well as increasing blood flow to the affected area. That’s why you may get symptoms such as redness, swelling and heat around the site of infection or inflammation. This type of inflammation is acute and usually only lasts for a few hours or days.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, occurs when the inflammatory response by your body is prolonged and is constantly in a state of alert.
This type of inflammation is believed to play a key role in the development of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
Causes of chronic inflammation include:
By understanding the levels of inflammation in your body you can help reduce your risk of chronic disease by implementing lifestyle changes and keep your body in the best of health.
“CRP is good for assessing a number of health issues. As CRP is a biomarker for inflammation, high levels can be a sign of a bacterial infection or an autoimmune condition. It is also used alongside heart biomarkers to check a person’s overall risk of stroke and heart disease. Your lifestyle can also raise CRP levels through intense exercise, being overweight, smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Normal CRP levels are between 0 and 5 mg/L. Raised CRP levels need further investigation, which is why they are often measured alongside other biomarkers.”
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The normal level of CRP is between 0 – 5 mg/L.
Yes, if your CRP levels are raised because of low-grade inflammation linked to obesity, smoking, diet, or alcohol, then there are changes you can make to your lifestyle to help reduce your result.
For example, eating a Mediterranean style diet that is high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish has been shown to lower inflammation in people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes.
Cutting down alcohol to less than 14 units per week can also help to improve results.
Finally, if you exercise regularly, ensure you are giving your body enough time to recover between sessions. CRP levels can take 20 hours to recover after exercise.
If you exercise regularly, raised CRP levels can indicate that you are not giving your body enough recovery time between intense periods of exercise.
High CRP levels can also indicate an infection within the body as a result of toxins, bacteria, viruses, and injuries.
Raised levels of C-reactive protein can also indicate an increased risk of developing heart disease.
It can also indicate that you have a bacterial infection or have an autoimmune condition like:
Knowing you have high levels of CRP will enable you to look into other areas of your health, such as cholesterol levels, and make changes to your lifestyle in order to lower the level of inflammation in the body.
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