Hidden Dangers of Inflammation: Understanding CRP Levels - Unlocking Insights - Explore Our Articles (2024)

Learn more about CRP's role as an inflammation marker, and how diet, alcohol, and exercise influence its levels.

Hidden Dangers of Inflammation: Understanding CRP Levels - Unlocking Insights - Explore Our Articles (1)

By Perrin Braun

Hidden Dangers of Inflammation: Understanding CRP Levels - Unlocking Insights - Explore Our Articles (2)

Edited by Lucia Gcingca

Published January 30, 2024.

Hidden Dangers of Inflammation: Understanding CRP Levels - Unlocking Insights - Explore Our Articles (3)

What can influence how quickly your injuries heal, your susceptibility to the flu, and the health of your cardiovascular system? The answer lies in inflammation and its impact on C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. It's a key indicator of immune function and heart health.

Inflammation is intricately linked to factors like diet, exercise, and potentially alcohol, which might elevate CRP levels. [1] Understanding what constitutes a dangerous CRP level is especially vital as we age and for athletes striving for peak performance, given its role in health and recovery. [2]

Measuring inflammation

A protein in the blood that acts as a proxy for inflammation, called CRP, is one of the best inflammation indicators. Levels of CRP rise and fall in response to inflammation, so knowing your CRP measurement tells you a lot about what’s going on in your body.

CRP's predictive capability

Research has confirmed that CRP can predict future cardiovascular events in individuals with carotid stenosis, emphasizing its role in assessing cardiovascular risk. [1]

CRP changes its structure when inflammation occurs. These changes significantly impact how CRP functions, especially in the context of atherosclerotic plaques. [3, 4]

Risk assessment guidelines

The American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have set the following guidelines:

  • Below 1.0 mg/L: Low risk for heart problems.
  • 1.0 to 3.0 mg/L: Average risk for heart problems.
  • Above 3.0 mg/L: High risk for heart problems.

Note: Very high levels of CRP (more than 10 mg/L) can also indicate an impaired immune response or inflammatory disease. [5,6]

» Discover how inflammation is affecting your inner age

Analyzing CRP

Since CRP is found in your blood, the only way to get information about your levels is to analyze a blood sample through a service like InsideTracker. CRP is measured along with testosterone, white blood cell count, potassium, sodium, zinc, and chromium (in addition to the thirteen other biomarkers). It's also measured in the Ultimate Panel, along with many additional markers.

Hidden Dangers of Inflammation: Understanding CRP Levels - Unlocking Insights - Explore Our Articles (4)

Hidden Dangers of Inflammation: Understanding CRP Levels - Unlocking Insights - Explore Our Articles (5)

Test

48 blood and dozens of genetic biomarkers

Pricing

From $149/subscription

Insurance

FSA/HSA (partial)

Privacy

HIPAA and SOC-2 protection

InsideTracker is a personalized health and wellness platform that aims to help people optimize their biomarkers to live healthier and longer lives. It analyzes genetics, behaviors, and goals to give you personalized nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress, and supplementation recommendations.

InsideTracker offers DNA testing for dozens of genetic fitness, nutrition, and longevity genetic markers. Since genetics influence many aspects of your health, the app can provide helpful context and an action plan. It also integrates with wearable devices to collect real-time health data, tracking factors like sleep, activity, and heart rate.

Science-backed recommendations

Comprehensive blood biomarker testing

DNA testing

Integration with wearables

Encourages retesting every 3 to 6 months

User-friendly interface

Personalized optimal zones

Customizable Action Plan

Not a replacement for medical care

DNA testing not available outside of the U.S.

Controlling CRP through diet

To manage inflammation effectively and keep CRP levels under control, it's important to avoid foods high in fat, calories, sugar, and salt, such as fast foods. It's more beneficial to focus on foods that are low on the glycemic index and rich in:

  • Antioxidants
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Fish oils
  • Vitamins C and E
  • Mono-unsaturated fats

Research has linked diets abundant in these with lower CRP levels. [7, 8] This approach becomes pertinent in light of common concerns about how much CRP level is dangerous and the relationship between diet and inflammation.

» Seeking a natural remedy? Find out how turmeric and curcumin affect inflammation

Foods that help reduce inflammation

The following foods can help reduce inflammation:

  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Soy protein
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Black and green teas
  • Vinegar

These items align with the Mediterranean Diet, renowned for maintaining healthy CRP levels. A vegan diet, encompassing fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, also reduces systemic inflammation, as reflected in CRP measurements. [9]» Check out key nutrients for vegetarians, vegans, and raw vegans

Daily diet goals

Aiming for at least six servings of fruits and vegetables daily goes beyond just influencing CRP levels; it contributes to overall health and wellness. Diversifying your diet with new types of fruits and vegetables through tools like InsideTracker’s Food Menu can be practical.

Alcohol’s effect on inflammation

The impact of alcohol on inflammation and CRP levels is complex. Moderate consumption, defined as no more than 2 glasses of wine, 1 pint of beer, or 4 oz. of liquor per session, can be more beneficial for lowering CRP levels than abstaining or excessive drinking.

» Inflammation and depression: How lifestyle choices make a difference

Intermittent fasting and inflammation

Intermittent fasting, a diet pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting, can impact your body's inflammation levels. Specifically, it can affect the levels of certain markers in your blood, like CRP, which are used to measure inflammation. [10] This highlights how not just the kind of foods you eat but also when and how often you eat them play a role in managing inflammation.

» Sick of your six small meals? Explore our InsideGide on intermittent fasting

Inflammation and athletes

The importance of CRP monitoring

Athletes should be particularly concerned with monitoring their levels of CRP since performance is so closely tied to their heart health. Understanding what constitutes a dangerous CRP level is crucial, as high CRP is often linked to increased inflammation and potential health risks.

Benefits of consistent exercise

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation by 20-60% and to reduce white blood cell count (another marker for inflammation) during and after exercise. [11] This reduction in CRP and inflammation can also reduce the negative effects of certain lifestyle factors, such as alcohol consumption.

Risks of inconsistent exercise

For all you weekend warriors out there, engaging in intense but inconsistent exercise can:

  • Increase your white blood cell levels
  • Increase inflammation
  • Weaken your immune system

This is especially significant considering that lifestyle factors like alcohol consumption can further elevate CRP levels, adding to the inflammation caused by sporadic intense activities.

The impact of strenuous exercise

Prolonged strenuous exercise (i.e., running a marathon) can triple white blood cell levels! [12] Athletes who over-train or over-exert themselves during competitions can weaken their immune systems, making it more difficult to recover properly.

This is particularly concerning as high CRP levels, potentially exacerbated by factors like dehydration and certain dietary habits, can indicate a dangerous level of inflammation in the body.

Supplements: When diet and exercise aren’t enough

When you can’t control inflammation through diet and exercise alone, supplements can help. Vitamins C, D, and E have all been linked to promoting healthy levels of inflammation.

  • Vitamin C: Taking 1,000 mg daily may reduce your CRP levels by 25%. [13]
  • For athletes: Long-distance runners or triathletes can cut their risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections in half by taking 600 mg of vitamin C daily for 21 days before a competition.

Vitamin D and inflammation in women

According to researchers, those with adequate vitamin D levels in their blood were less likely to develop inflammation. Each 10ng/ml increase in serum vitamin D is associated with a 25% reduction of CRP. [14] So, make sure you soak up a few minutes of sunshine every day or consider taking a supplement to get your vitamin D fix.



Combating environmental stressors and embracing healthy habits

Environmental factors such as air pollution, second-hand smoke, and economic stress can all increase inflammation. While these are outside your control, there's also a lot you can do to make sure that inflammation doesn’t negatively affect your health, like:

  • Engage in moderate, regular exercise
  • Eat a diet that includes many of the foods listed above
  • If you smoke, quit
  • Make sure you get enough sleep (adults should aim for 7 – 9 hours)
  • Lose weight if your weight is currently outside of a healthy range

If you need help finding the most effective ways to lower your inflammation, consider signing up for InsideTracker’s Ultimate Plan. InsideTracker offers a platform with personalized recommendations based on blood biomarkers, genetics, and physiodata from fitness trackers to help you optimize your well-being.

InsideTracker doesn't diagnose or treat medical conditions. For any health concerns, visit a qualified healthcare professional.

References:

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17322087

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29517857

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29713320

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19520972

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31312858

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26089599

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25313576

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20234030

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25360519

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32947129

[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28320745

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19232816

[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32229693

[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26833068

Hidden Dangers of Inflammation: Understanding CRP Levels - Unlocking Insights - Explore Our Articles (2024)

FAQs

What level of CRP is concerning? ›

Results equal to or greater than 8 mg/L or 10 mg/L are considered high. Range values vary depending on the lab doing the test. A high test result is a sign of inflammation. It may be due to serious infection, injury or chronic disease.

How to bring CRP levels down? ›

Limiting or avoiding inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates, fried foods, red meat and processed meat can help reduce CRP. Instead, focus on eating more anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, nuts, fatty fish and whole grains.

What kind of inflammation causes high CRP? ›

A wide variety of inflammatory conditions can cause elevated CRP levels, including :
  • autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, and certain types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • pericarditis, which is inflammation of the lining of the heart.

What autoimmune disease causes CRP? ›

A CRP test may be used to help find or monitor inflammation in acute or chronic conditions, including:
  • Infections from bacteria or viruses.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, disorders of the intestines that include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and vasculitis.
Sep 28, 2022

What is a risky CRP level? ›

For high sensitivity assays of CRP or “hsCRP,” we say that less than 1 mg/L is low risk, 1 to 3 mg/L is moderate risk, and greater than 3 mg/L is high risk—that's simple enough. But the continuum extends beyond that.

What is a critical level of CRP? ›

Interpretation of CRP levels:

More than 10.0 mg/dL: Marked elevation (Acute bacterial infections, viral infections, systemic vasculitis, major trauma). More than 50.0 mg/dL: Severe elevation (Acute bacterial infections).

What are the 10 worst foods for inflammation? ›

Inflammatory Foods
  • Red meat, such as steak and hamburgers.
  • Processed meat, such as bologna, bacon, sausage and lunchmeat.
  • Commercial baked goods such as snack cakes, pies, cookies and brownies.
  • Bread and pasta made with white flour.
  • Deep fried items such as French fries, fried chicken and donuts.

What foods should you avoid if you have high CRP? ›

Avoid Foods That Cause Inflammation: Processed meals, sugary snacks, and excessive consumption of red meat can all contribute to inflammation. Limiting these foods in your diet can help lower CRP levels.

What supplements lower CRP? ›

Here is a partial list of nutrients that have demonstrated effects in suppressing chronic inflam-matory reactions:
  • Curcumin33-37.
  • Irvingia38-40.
  • Vitamin K41-43.
  • Luteolin44-46.
  • Fish oil47-53.
  • Borage oil (source of gamma-linolenic acid)54,55.
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine56-59.
  • Vitamin C60-65.

What cancers can CRP detect? ›

CRP is considered to be related to cancer progression, and increased serum levels of CRP have been detected in many carcinomas, such as colorectal (8), lung (9) and gastric cancer (10-12).

How do you tell if you have inflammation in your body? ›

What are the symptoms of acute inflammation?
  • Discolored or flushed skin.
  • Pain or tenderness that should be mild and only in the area of the injury.
  • Swelling (for example, knee inflammation).
  • Skin that feels hot to the touch.

What medication is used to treat CRP? ›

Cyclooxygenase inhibitors (aspirin, rofecoxib, celecoxib), platelet aggregation inhibitors (clopidogrel, abciximab), lipid lowering agents (statins, ezetimibe, fenofibrate, niacin, diets), beta-adrenoreceptor antagonists and antioxidants (vitamin E), as well as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (ramipril, ...

What CRP level indicates lupus? ›

Abstract. CRP levels in 194 serum samples from 43 SLE patients were measured. Patients with inactive disease have levels below 10 micrograms/ml; patients with active SLE have higher levels, but never over 50 micrograms/ml.

Which doctor to consult if CRP is high? ›

Therefore, rheumatologists are among the doctors who are best equipped to interpret CRP results and diagnose conditions related to inflammation.

What does it mean when your blood test shows inflammation? ›

Blood tests known as 'inflammatory markers' can detect inflammation in the body, caused by many diseases including infections, auto-immune conditions and cancers. The tests don't identify what's causing the inflammation: it might be as simple as a viral infection, or as serious as cancer.

What level of CRP indicates arthritis? ›

Normal C-reactive protein (CRP) levels
C-reactive protein level (in milligrams per liter of blood) in adultsWhat it means
10.0–100.0moderately elevated, which signifies infection or an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn's disease, or lupus
4 more rows

What CRP level indicates sepsis? ›

Initial CRP levels did not differ among patients with sepsis or septic shock (median CRP level day 1 in sepsis: 150 (97–225) mg/l; septic shock: 127 (79–219) mg/l; p = 0.092). However, in the presence of septic shock, CRP was shown to increase until day 10 of ICU hospitalization (median 179 (66–225) mg/l).

What CRP level indicates Crohn's disease? ›

Conclusion: CRP elevation in Inflammatory Bowel Disease is associated with active disease determined endoscopically, histologically, or radiographically. In both CD and UC, a CRP > 2.0 mg/dL predicts findings of active ileal disease at ileocolonoscopy.

What are the symptoms of high CRP levels? ›

Or it may be a potentially life-threatening condition called sepsis or blood poisoning. Symptoms of sepsis may include fever and chills, headache, pain, nausea, vomiting, confusion, rash, and shortness of breath. The level of CRP in your blood goes up within a few hours of a serious infection.

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