By: Nikki Gould, RDN, CLT Kemper Wellness
All of us know someone that’s been touched by heart disease. After all, it has remained the leading cause of death in America since the 50s. You may have a family history or have been told by your doctor that you yourself are at risk for the disease. The good news is your risk can be reduced with healthy lifestyle and diet changes. Better yet, these same lifestyle and diet changes can also reduce your risk for cognitive issues.
There is a large body of research connecting the health of your heart to the health of your brain. Damage to the heart and blood vessels can increase a person’s risk of dementia. Furthermore, diseases of the heart and brain share many of the same risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. Though you may be familiar with these, there’s one more risk factor that doesn’t get the same attention but is equally (if not more) detrimental, and that’s inflammation.
Inflammation is not all bad. It can occur as a part of the immune response, to fight off and attack foreign substances, such as infectious diseases. However, inflammation can become chronic and these protective processes start to damage the body. This chronic inflammation is often silent, producing no obvious symptoms at first but can lead to damage and narrowing of the arteries and can accelerate brain aging.
If you’re wondering, “How do I know if I have inflammation?” There are lab tests that can help assess your levels. One such test is called hs-CRP, or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. CRP is released as a response to injury and inflammation and elevated levels suggest more inflammation. At Kemper Wellness, we’ve included hs-CRP as well as other markers of inflammation in our custom panel as a vvaluable assessment tool. If you are working to lower your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, don’t ignore inflammation as another key piece of your heart, brain, and whole body health. Even if you don’t test, you can still lead an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Incorporating foods like wild salmon, almonds, and olive oil and cooking with herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, and rosemary can support heart health and reduce inflammation.
If you’re concerned about your own risk and want to learn more about what you can do to manage inflammation, call Kemper Wellness at 216-337-1400 or visit us at www.KemperWellness.com.