What Is Wrong with Inflammation? 

Inflammation is the result of injury, such as from a splinter, a burn or an infection. The pain, redness, swelling, and heat that follow are natural and are necessary for healing. Once healed, the signs of inflammation go away.  This is the normal, good part of the inflammatory process.

However, if our bodies experience repetitive injury, inflammation can become long-standing or "chronic."  A common example of chronic inflammation is bronchitis from inhaling cigarette smoke 20 times a day.  If you stop smoking, the inflammation stops, and the lungs heal - except for the scar tissues left behind.

What in the world causes "chronic inflammation?"

Let’s start with obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol use and lack of exercise.  You could also have an infection as in periodontal disease.  Other risks for chronic inflammation include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes or even cancer.  Other illnesses linked to inflammation include asthma, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. 

The 2013 JAMA Psychiatry published the article, "Elevated C-Reactive Protein Levels, Psychological Distress, and Depression in 73,131 Individuals" which found those individuals with elevated levels of CRP were more likely to have psychological distress and depression

Causing most of those conditions of inflammation is the food you eat.  If you eat red meat, chicken, sea food, oils, processed foods, dairy foods, eggs or cheese you are putting foods into your body that are known to cause inflammation.

According to Dr. John McDougall, author of The Starch Solution, much chronic inflammation comes from "dietary diseases," including coronary heart disease or inflammatory arthritis.  The primary sources of dietary repetitive injury are meat, cheese, and eggs. Once these injurious foods are removed from the diet, healing can occur and inflammation resolves.

How do you reduce chronic inflammation?

There is much good scientific evidence that a change in diet can do remarkable things.  Your body doesn’t want to be ill and inflamed.  Your immune system wants to cure you and make you well.  But your body can’t heal itself as long as you are adding poisons such as tobacco smoke or overexposure of the skin to excess sunlight.

Over 75% of the chronic illnesses in developed countries are due to repeated injuries from the fork and spoon.  Three or more times a day you are eating damaging quantities of fat, protein, cholesterol, and chemicals.  The beef, chicken, cheese, refined flours, and sugars are sources of present day malnutrition.

Populations of people who follow low-fat, plant-based diets show strong evidence of reduced inflammation in their bodies based on blood tests.

These same people also have much less heart disease, arthritis, periodontal disease and cancer than do populations of people who consume diets high in animal (saturated) fats and trans fats. The foods themselves do not directly change these inflammatory markers, but the body’s response to the injury caused by the foods.

Although more study is needed to confirm this possible link, some scientists believe that bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and make its way to the heart which is another reason to reduce your levels of chronic inflammation.

The 2013 European Journal of Nutrition published the article "Consumption of Red Meat and Whole-Grain Bread in Relation to Biomarkers of Obesity, Inflammation, Glucose Metabolism, and Oxidative Stress." Their conclusion: The results of this study suggest that high consumption of whole-grain bread is related to lower levels of hs-CRP, whereas high consumption of red meat is associated with higher circulating levels of hs-CRP. (Lower inflammatory markers, like CRP, are associated with better health.)

The 2013 Nutrition Reviews published the article "Dietary Pattern Analysis and Biomarkers of Low-Grade Inflammation: a Systematic Literature Review." A major conclusion: Patterns identified as being statistically and significantly associated with biomarkers of inflammation were almost all meat-based or due to "Western" eating patterns.

The 2012 Nutrition Reviews published the article "Effect of Whole grains on Markers of Subclinical Inflammation." Their findings: Epidemiological studies provide reasonable support for an association between diets high in whole grains and lower C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations. After adjusting for other dietary factors, each serving of whole grains is estimated to reduce CRP concentrations by approximately 7%.

The 2013 Nutrition Journal published the article "The Potential Role of Phytochemicals in Whole-Grain Cereals for the Prevention of Type-2 Diabetes." Their findings: Diets high in whole grains are associated with a 20-30% reduction in risk of developing type-2 diabetes… biomarkers of systemic inflammation tend to be reduced in people consuming high intakes of whole grains

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a meta-analysis on February 12, 2014 which reveals an association between increased dietary magnesium and lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium [1]

Birth to 6 months 
7–12 months 
1–3 years 
4–8 years 
9–13 years 
14–18 years 
19–30 years 
31+ years 

RDA for Magnesium
30 mg*  
75 mg* 
80 mg 
130 mg 
240 mg 
410 mg 
400 mg 
420 mg 

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium
Food Milligrams (mg) per serving

Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 
Banana, 1 medium 
Raisins, ½ cup 
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 
Apple, 1 medium 
Carrot, raw, 1 medium 


The high-sensitivity C-reactive protein blood test, or hs-CRP, is used to assess disease risk. C-reactive protein is produced in the liver.  As inflammation occurs in the body, your CRP levels will rise.  

To find out your CRP level you will need to check with your physician.  Alternatives include a visit to an "Any Lab Test" location in your town and pay $80. 

For a FREE chart that you can print off and fill in with your test results, click here 

Copyright © 2010-2019, Melinda Coker and with Splash!, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.