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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Vijaylaxmi Gumaste Khanolkar: Well written Nickhil. Thanks for sharing useful tips.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Thank you for the feedback

Vijaylaxmi Gumaste Khanolkar

Manoj Erande: Alcohol is too less..😏 Other all terrific Nickhil Jakatdar 👍

Nickhil Jakatdar: haha!

Manoj Erande

Vijay Ramchandran: Very informative Nikhil! I believe the tests you recommend are not typically done in an annual check in the US, is that right? So my best bet is to wait for my next Pune visit?

Amarnath Tee: Vijay Ramchandran you can ask your physician to order additional tests during the annual or go to any lab test now or a similar outfit.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Vijay we are launching an at-home test in the US next week with a partner. I’ll announce it shortly; you might want to check it out.

Vijay Ramanan: Pretty good information.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Vijay thanks as always.

Vijay Ramchandran

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir: Love the post Nickhil. All the areas you focused on are very worthwhile. In addition to this list, I also try to invest my energies into one more…. And this is for more than one reason. There is a growing body of evidence that having good social support/ social integration/ positive social relationships down-regulates inflammatory responses. Love is a powerful drug 😁♥️

Nickhil Jakatdar: Swapna completely agree. It’s one that isn’t explicitly spoken about (even by people like me) but one that, along with purpose, is highly underrated.

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir: Absolutely…. Having a purpose is so integral to wellness and health. 😁

Priya Chawathe: Swapna Gadgil Gambhir love this ❤️ We are wired for connection and belonging. Feeling loved, seen, heard, accepted, appreciated and like we belong changes us at a cellular level.

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir

Priya Chawathe: Nickhil Jakatdar thanks for bringing purpose into the conversation. All so important even for physical health. We can’t separate the body, mind and soul. All this from your informative post on inflammation. 🥰🙃 However, it is what’s driving chronic illness today.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Priya very true.

Priya Chawathe: Love this Nickhil Jakatdar! Thank you for sharing your personal journey with keeping chronic inflammation in check. Love all your diet and lifestyle tips. And regular blood testing so important as we age and also for those with a chronic health issue! My main focus for a while now has been on stress management using meditation techniques and healing and transformation of difficult emotions.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Priya glad you are doing what you are doing. It’s much needed.

Priya Chawathe

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