If you follow health and wellness news even the tiniest bit, inflammation is likely a term you’re fairly familiar with. Everything seems to have some sort of relationship with inflammation. We’ve previously given a rundown on what exactly inflammation is, but what are ways you can prevent it? By taking a proactive approach, you may even be able to reduce the effects that inflammation can have on your body, so that it doesn’t become a problem that requires a doctor’s visit.
The influence that a well-balanced diet can have on your overall health is incredible, and that remains true for reducing or preventing inflammation. There are plenty of diets that promise to get rid of inflammation in your body. For example, we’ve previously written about, the Mediterranean diet, which has a large body of research backing the potential benefits to your overall health. The Mediterranean diet isn’t the only anti-inflammatory diet out there, however.
You also don’t need to follow an popular diet to have an anti-inflammatory diet. You can simply eat your regular diet and add in a number of inflammatory-fighting foods. The reason most organized diets are anti-inflammatory is because they are well balanced.
So, what foods fight inflammation? Healthy fats, like olive oil and other foods rich in unsaturated fats, can provide you with a good start, along with certain nuts and dark leafy vegetables. You also shouldn’t miss out on foods like salmon, dark fruits (e.g., blueberries or pomegranates), or even a healthy amount of wine.
Avoid foods that are high in saturated or trans fats or sugar, since these can increase inflammation. This can include fried food, processed meat, desserts, or full-fat dairy items. You don’t have to cut these foods out of your diet entirely but cutting back on them can help.
Another practical way you can begin to reduce inflammation in your body is through exercise and weight loss. There has been some promising research into the relationship between working out and inflammation. Even as little as 20 minutes of exercise can suppress the cellular reaction that can cause inflammation. Other research has shown exercise can have several anti-inflammatory benefits, such as promoting the production of myokines, by muscles, in the body.
Weight loss has also been described as a “critical factor” in reducing chronic inflammation in the body. There is evidence that the two may be more intertwined than originally thought, with obesity driving inflammation and inflammation driving obesity. This can create a cycle where inflammation can lead to weight gain, which can lead to further inflammation.
Stress isn’t fun on an emotional level, and it’s well documented to have negative physical effects , too. In fact, it has been found to trigger inflammatory activity and plays a role in negative attention bias in the brain (which can lead to more stress and emotional conditions). This combination of stress and inflammation can have a long-term impacts on the body including stress-related diseases.
Reducing your stress-levels is important if you want to reduce inflammation. The stress-busting ideas below may help, but what reduces your stress will also depend on your hobbies and what activities you find enjoyable and relaxing:
A lack of sleep can cause inflammation and play a role in dampening your immune system. There are several theories as to why exactly sleep deprivation can cause inflammation, but the effects are there after only a single night of poor rest. Consistent lack of sleep can cause long-term inflammation and stress. This is only one reason why getting a good night’s sleep is important. Luckily, if you’re struggling, there are a multitude of methods you can try to fall asleep easier.
Smoking is one of those bad habits that doesn’t seem to have any benefits. The connection between smoking and increased inflammation is well established, causing an immune response in the body that drives inflammation. When exposure to cigarette smoke is sustained, it can cause chronic inflammation. It’s also been found that nicotine can activate specific white blood cells that increase inflammation in the body. At the same time, smoking may inhibit the production of anti-inflammatory proteins, making it more difficult for your body to reduce inflammation.
Quitting smoking is famously difficult, but there are many resources available to you. If you’re enrolled in Medicare, your treatment may be covered. Non-Medicare beneficiaries may have other smoking cessation resources and guides at their disposal.
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We’re still growing in our understanding of what chronic inflammation can do to our bodies in the long term, but we know that it is rarely good. That’s why taking steps to reduce or prevent chronic inflammation is a wise choice. As you can see from these tips, most ways to help yourself with inflammation are already healthy activities for other reasons, whether that’s exercising or getting good sleep. That’s all the more reason to take smart steps to reduce the inflammation in your body.