Doctors and researchers have recently made great new strides in our quest to understand, protect against and eventually eliminate heart disease.
Numerous studies reported in prestigious medical journals now identify INFLAMMATION, not cholesterol, as the major culprit in causing heart disease, and as it turns out, inflammation can be accurately measured by a simple test that costs under $50.
Research studies that number in the thousands and continue to this day show that INFLAMMATION plays a much bigger role in triggering heart attacks and heart disease than cholesterol.
These studies show that people with normal cholesterol AND high levels of a substance called C-reactive protein, which measures inflammation, are at greater risk of heart attack than people with high cholesterol and normal levels of CRP.
What is C-reactive protein? C-reactive protein, (CRP) is one of a number of molecules produced by the immune system for the specific purpose of containing or repairing artery damage that occurs for a variety of different reasons.
Discovering the connection between inflammation and heart disease is a MAJOR ADVANCE in understanding the disease. And the ease with which C-reactive protein can be measured gives doctors a powerful new tool to identify high-risk individuals who, other than elevated CRP, have no other heart disease risk factors.
Cholesterol has always had much more press than it deserves.
While it’s true that about half of the people with heart disease have high cholesterol, it is also true about half the people with heart disease have NORMAL cholesterol, which means cholesterol may NOT be a significant causal factor.
The new research on inflammation and the role of C-reactive protein is so compelling that many doctors now believe the evidence is overwhelming and that inflammation is, with total certainty, the central factor in cardiovascular disease.
The bottom line is this; the next time you have a check up be sure and have your C-reactive protein tested because this test, exclusive of all others, provides objective information about your risk of heart disease that is far more important than any other factor capable of being tested at this time, including cholesterol.
Causes Of Inflammation And Increased C-Reactive Protein
Here is what we know. When cells that line the inside of the arteries are injured or become dysfunctional they send out a signal, kind of like an SOS, a cry for help. The cellular distress signals are heard by the immune system and the immune system answers the distress call by sending in specialized cells and molecules, including C-reactive protein, to contain the injury, repair the damage and fight off the offender.
If you take a beautiful landscape, like the inside of a healthy artery, and turn it into a war zone where damage and injury is occurring and special troops are being poured in by the thousands to attack the enemy and contain the damage, it does not take long before the landscape is not so pretty anymore.
We know inflammation causes big problems, but what causes inflammation?
What damages the inside of the artery in the first place?
What causes the cells to cry for help and get the immune system, to send in the shock troops in the form of C-reactive protein and other substances?
We don’t know everything that causes damage inside the artery walls, but here are a few things we do know.
Basically ANYTHING that causes injury or inflammation signals the release of powerful immune system substances for the purpose of containing and repairing the damage and attacking the problem. So what causes inflammation?
- Tobacco is a brutal toxin. Smoking litters the blood with powerful chemicals that damage artery walls and stimulate an immune system response, which, if maintained over time, causes the build up of inflammatory chemicals and greatly increases the risk of heart attack and heart disease.
- Both high blood pressure and diabetes put constant stress on the inside of the artery walls. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein are common in people with either of these problems.
- Although researchers are not certain as to why, we know that certain medicines cause an elevation of C-reactive protein, which is another good reason to get healthy, stay healthy and not depend on medicines of any sort.
- Infections signal the immune system to release C-reactive protein. Many people suffer with low-grade infections that constantly sap their energy. Often, these people have no idea they are suffering with infections; they just think theyre tired.
- Inflammation causes inflammation. You read it right, theres no misprint. The inflammatory chemicals produced by the immune system and sent into the blood to contain damage, repair damage and fight invaders actually become part of the problem IF the cellular call for help never stops.
Think about it, if storm troopers constantly trample through your garden, how will it ever grow back and be nice again? The answer is, it won’t!
These are a few of the OBVIOUS causes of inflammation. Now lets examine sources of inflammation that are not so obvious and potentially even more dangerous because they are likely to go unrecognized.
Does being overweight CAUSE inflammation?
Until recently researchers believed that fat cells were passive, but new research has proven differently. It turns out that fat cells are not at all passive.
Fat cells constantly produce a substance called interleukin-6.
Interleukin-6 is a highly specialized, extremely powerful, pro-inflammatory bio-chemical that can cause great damage if it shows up in the body at the wrong place and for the wrong reasons. AND FAT CELLS MAKE IT ALL THE TIME.
Interleukin-6 is like a pack of vicious attack dogs your immune system can set lose against viruses, tumors, or anything that may seriously threaten your health. But if there are no bad guys to attack, the last thing a peaceful neighborhood needs is a band of killer dogs roaming the streets ready to pounce on anything that moves.
When interleukin-6 enters the blood it does exactly what it is meant to do. It attacks.
Interleukin-6 causes an immediate inflammatory response, damaging cells and creating problems.
The injured cells send out a distress signal and the liver responds by making C-reactive protein and sending it streaming into the blood to solve a problem that never ends as long as interleukin-6 is present.
Because of the never ending supply of interleukin-6 that fat cells so graciously provide, overweight individuals live in a state of constant low-grade inflammation, which keeps C-reactive protein high and dramatically raises the risk of heart disease.
Now you understand exactly why losing weight slows the inflammation process, lowers C-reactive protein in the body and reduces the risk of heart disease. And you understand even better why losing weight and firming up is one of the healthiest things you can possibly do for yourself. See you at the gym!
Do Sugar And Carbohydrates CAUSE Artery Damage & Inflammation?
Make no mistake about it. Over consumption of foods high in sugar and carbohydrates is one of the primary initiating causes of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, gall bladder disease and about half of all cancers.
Besides causing metabolic imbalances that can destroy your health in a variety of different and creative ways, sugar and carbohydrates turn into glucose and glucose auto-oxidizes in your blood, spinning off free radicals that damage the artery, cause inflammation and send your cells screaming for help.
The ramifications of this are staggering, especially in light of the new research that shows INFLAMMATION to be the primary underlying cause of heart disease.
The health destructive effects of oxidation and free radicals are well documented in medical literature. In fact, research on free radicals is one of the main reasons supplements known as ANTI OXIDANTS are so popular.
Nutrients like vitamin c, selenium and zinc are important because they are powerful anti-oxidants that help protect against oxidative stress and free radical damage.
Here are the facts. Decide for yourself.
- FACT: Sugar and carbohydrates are converted into glucose and glucose quickly enters your blood and raises your blood sugar.
- FACT: Glucose auto oxidizes in the blood causing significant free radical production.
- FACT: Free radicals rip and slice the arteries, causing damage, producing inflammation and causing the cells to cry for help. C-reactive protein is made in the liver and sent charging into the blood to answer the call.
The bottom line . . .
Eating a diet high in sugar or carbohydrates keeps blood glucose levels high resulting in oxidative stress, free radical production, arterial damage, a cellular cry for help and an accommodating liver that makes C-reactive protein to answer the call.
If you believe the latest research about inflammation and heart disease, and most cardiologist in America do, then you have to agree that eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates is a PERFECT PRESCRIPTION for developing heart disease.
A famous nutritionist once said we dig our graves with our teeth. I say you choose you level of health and vitality with the food choices you make every day. Health is a choice that only you can make, and if you want excellent health, you have to make that choice over and over, every single day. .
By the way, what’s for dessert?