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Eating Plants to Address the Inflammatory State
C-reactive protein is a molecule produced in the body that is used as a non-specific marker of inflammation. This molecule can be measured in the blood and, although it doesn’t identify the source of inflammation, be it from an infection, injury or virus, its levels rise in response to inflammation in the body. As we know, so many chronic conditions are associated with the inflammatory response to injury. There are practitioners and researchers who are beginning to see chronic inflammation as a single disease presenting as different symptoms of this one condition: cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc.
A recent study demonstrated that high levels of C-reactive protein in the blood may result from excessive blood sugar. Fiber-packed whole fruits, vegetables, and grains do a great job of slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of glucose into the blood, thereby lowering C-reactive protein levels. There are also studies indicating the powerful anti- inflammatory and protective effects of flavonoids and other antioxidants, abundantly found in plants, on mammalian cells. Looking at these studies individually might give us clues as to a correlation between inflammation and food. But, consider these findings together in the growing body of research on whole plant foods, along with dietary patterns and the etiology of disease, and you get a big, “wholistic” picture of food and nutrition, as Dr. Campbell expresses in his Principle #7 of Food and Health:
Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board:
“As I have come to understand more about the biochemical processes of various diseases, I have also come to see how these diseases have much in common. Because of these impressive commonalities, it only makes sense that the same good nutrition will generate health and prevent diseases across the board…. Quite simply, you can maximize health for diseases across the board with one simple diet.”
- Straub RH. Evolutionary medicine and chronic inflammatory state-known and new concepts in pathophysiology.J Mol Med (Berl). 2012 Jan 22.
- Neuhouser ML, Schwarz Y, Wang C, et al. A low-glycemic load diet reduces serum C-reactive protein and modestly increases adiponectin in overweight and obese adults. J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):369-74. Epub 2011 Dec 21.
- Elliott Middleton, Jr., Chithan Kandaswam, et al. The Effects of Plant Flavonoids on Mammalian Cells:Implications for Inflammation, Heart Disease, and Cancer. Pharmacological Reviews December 1, 2000 vol. 52 no. 4 673-751.