You fall and bruise your knee. Immediately, your body sends its defense team to the injury site, causing it to redden and swell. This temporary inflammation represents your body’s natural response to illness or injury, delivering the resources necessary for recovery and protecting the area while it heals.
However, while your body needs occasional, temporary swelling to heal from damage, modern social, environmental and lifestyle factors often contribute to widespread systemic chronic inflammation. In turn, this condition contributes to many of today’s leading causes of disability and death, including heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and neurodegenerative and autoimmune disorders.
Taming this never ending fire decreases your risk of early death. It also contributes to improved health and vitality, letting you wring more enjoyment out of each day. Here are six things you can do to reduce inflammation in the body.
1. Adjust Your Diet
Your first step in taming systemic chronic inflammation is to identify the substances contributing to it and reduce or eliminate them. Everything you consume impacts your body chemistry, and millions of people walk around with undiagnosed food allergies.
Start by getting mindful — pay attention to your physical symptoms after eating. Do you notice always feeling especially tired, achy or nauseous after certain meals? For example, folks with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may suffer headaches and upset stomachs after eating wheat products like pizza and pasta.
Once you’ve identified potential culprits, embark on an elimination diet to narrow the suspects. Be patient — some allergens are trickier than others. Start with common sensitivities like shellfish, wheat, dairy and soy but remain open-minded. Some people have undergone remarkable health transformations after years of suffering when they discovered they were allergic to a common cooking oil.
Furthermore, some foods cause inflammation in nearly everyone. Many of the recommended foods on the anti-inflammatory diet mirror those on the Mediterranean plan. What should you eat?
Additionally, sugar and white flour increase inflammation in nearly everyone. These foods quickly enter your bloodstream, causing your pancreas to work overtime to produce enough insulin to mitigate the glucose spike. Many all-purpose flour brands are particularly notorious. The manufacturing process produces a chemical byproduct called alloxan that scientists use to destroy the pancreas of laboratory animals. It’s a recipe for diabetes.
Moderate exercise helps mitigate chronic inflammation. Recently, researchers from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine hypothesized that working out would reduce inflammation by activating the body’s sympathetic nervous system. They discovered that 20 minutes of moderate treadmill walking decreased the number of cells producing TNF. TNF is a cytokine, a type of inflammatory protein that is helpful in acute injury but can lead to cellular death in abundance.
Best of all, moderation is key. Extremely vigorous or prolonged exercise sessions can increase inflammation. Researchers hypothesize that working out sets off a cascade of immunological modifications. Moderate exertion is like Baby Bear’s chair, producing just the right amount of inflammation, which your body quickly moderates, returning to homeostasis. Too much of a good thing creates an imbalance.
It may sound new-agey, but scientific evidence now supports the hypothesis that meditation eases inflammation. How? Researchers remain unsure, but the evidence to date suggests that mindfulness meditation downregulates the major stress axes in your body, such as your HPA axis.
Less stress means your brain receives fewer messages that something is wrong. Your body doesn’t differentiate well between physical and emotional injury — it produces the same chemical messages in response to both, telling your body to send in the troops. In turn, inflammation develops.
4. Cut Back on the Bottle
Is your reaction to a stressful day to mutter, “I need a drink?” If so, you could be encouraging inflammation in your body.
While one drink is unlikely to harm you — and may have some benefit — prolonged or heavy alcohol use damages multiple organ systems that communicate with your central nervous system. It then tells your brain something’s wrong, and chronic inflammation develops when you ignore these messages and continue drinking.
5. Get Some Sleep
Your body performs vital immune functions while you sleep. You produce more inflammatory cytokines, which also help you fall under. However, not getting adequate Zzzs can cause this system to go haywire, resulting in chronic systemic inflammation.
Make your bedroom conducive to sleep by keeping electronics in another room. If you must have such objects in sleeping areas, use specialty stickers to block lights that may keep you awake. Reserve this space for slumber and sex, avoiding work and other activities that can keep you awake.
6. Mitigate Stress
Mitigating stress is the toughest hurdle for many modern Americans to overcome in reducing inflammation in the body. Fortunately, following the other tips on this list will help. Both exercise and meditation can mitigate that always-pressured feeling. A healthy diet and quality sleep provide the neurological resilience you need to overcome life’s adversities.
However, you should still strive to eliminate unnecessary stressors from your life. Does your commute make you yank out your hair? Employers are more receptive to telecommuting and flex-work than ever — can you arrange to work from home a few days a week? Are household to-dos running you ragged? Can you and your family devise a chores chart to hang on your fridge, allowing you to delegate some of your responsibilities?
Things You Can Do to Reduce Inflammation
Temporary swelling helps your body recover from illness or injury. Unfortunately, modern life can result in chronic systemic inflammation that puts your health at risk.
Try the six tips above to reduce inflammation in the body. You’ll feel better and increase your chances of a longer, healthier life.
WRITTEN BYAva Roman