Cracking the Code on Inflammation: Lifestyle Changes That Worked

Cracking the Code on Inflammation: Lifestyle Changes That Worked

I write about chronic inflammation, which has long been recognized for its role in contributing to metabolic dysfunction, neurodegenerative disease, certain types of cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Given the focus on prevention and early detection, I tracked an inflammation biomarker that I could measure on a regular basis (I do my blood tests once every 3 months) and experimented with my lifestyle habits to see if that could help bring my inflammation under control.

The biomarker C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is produced by the liver and rises rapidly in response to acute inflammation, such as during an infection, injury or immune related diseases. While hs-CRP ( high sensitive CRP) is particularly useful because it can detect even low levels of chronic or long-term inflammation that may be associated with conditions like cardiovascular disease, or metabolic syndrome, it is not specific to any one type of disease or condition. There are other markers of inflammation, such as Lp-PLA2, which are more specific to a disease (in this case to atherosclerosis).

It is important to state that inflammation by itself is not a bad thing; the body produces inflammation as a defense mechanism to protect itself from infections and injuries, promote healing, and maintain overall health. However, the balance of inflammation must be carefully regulated to prevent chronic or excessive inflammation, which is the real issue.

My goal was to find what lifestyle changes I could make to address chronic inflammation. Here are the changes I focused on, that led to improvements in my hs-CRP levels:

1. Diet: I eat fruits (1-2 servings a day), vegetables (as colorful as possible), whole grains, lean proteins (chicken in my case), and healthy fats (mixed nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.). Fish, such as mackerel and salmon, are excellent sources of healthy fats but I am not a fish eater. I incorporated turmeric and ginger into my meals. I cut out sodas completely and reduced ultra-processed food (apart from a Krispy Kreme donut once in a rare while). I haven’t cut out sugars but I have found that eating it with fiber and protein while also doing my post-meal walk allows me to deal with it.

2. Regular Exercise: I engage in regular physical activity, including both cardiovascular exercises (soccer and walking while on calls) and strength training (3x - 4x a week).

3. Limiting my Alcohol Consumption: I have basically eliminated this to the point of no more than one glass of alcohol a month in the worst case. I have found that drinking a large glass of water, if I am tempted to have my favorite Mimosa, ensures I lose any interest in having it.

4. Adequate Sleep: When there were periods of poor sleep, I did see my hs-CRP levels go up significantly. My goal was to have my combined Deep and REM sleep together be at about 30% of my total sleep.

5. Stress Management: I don’t do this too well but if you can, it is expected to help with reducing inflammation.
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Siva Kumar: Excellent Nickhil. Very nicely illustrated. I wish I do something similar.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Thanks Dr S. Pls let me know how I can help.

Siva Kumar: If there is a structured document on the plan u follow, you can share. It will be very helpful. I also get my Blood Tests done every quarter religiously. I have some liver issues and follow a stringent exercise and diet regimen which is helping me. Any additional inputs like u shared will certainly help.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Dr S we now have structured programs including both targeted blood tests as well as ongoing programs with guidance from our team of dietitians and doctors to help our participants navigate their health issues. Check them out at If you would like I can have our team contact you with the required information or to answer any questions you may have.

Siva Kumar: Great

Siva Kumar

Suhas Gujarathi: Remind me again Nickhil – did we study together at an Engineering college or was it a medical college?

Nickhil Jakatdar: Suhas lol. We were mental but it was engineering that we “studied”

Suhas Gujarathi

Hitesh Shetty: I’m keen on reducing inflammation too. You seem to be indexed towards a natural diet. Do you see any supplements like NAC, Omega 3 that can help? I’ve been hearing good things about it.

Nickhil Jakatdar: If I can get it from my diet I prefer to do that but if there are times I can’t get it from my diet then I would try supplements. The key is to figure out what form of ingesting of the supplements is effective. NAC is considered (but not clinically proven) to be useful but not if taken as a drip: let the body ingest it and allocate it correctly else it could overwhelm your system. Omega3 is ok to take as a supplement but make sure of the quality of the supplement since that market isn’t regulated.

Hitesh Shetty

Neeraj Choudhary: keep at it. Good examples are rare, like that you are sharing at will. We all fall for a good donut 🍩 occasionally ok to be human.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Neeraj thanks! I agree and in fact, encourage eating things that you love as long as you do all the other things around it. That helps make this a sustainable program.

Neeraj Choudhary

Suvarchala Narayanan: This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing it. It says something that there is an elegant simplicity to this, and yet, it has been made to look complex and defeating.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Suvarchala thank you for summarizing that takeaway so well. Living healthy is simply a case of building awareness, simplifying complex sounding concepts and making interventions practically actionable rather than making them feel like sacrifices.

Suvarchala Narayanan

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