Chronic inflammation has become a source of concern in the last decade. While not all inflammation is bad – inflammation is an important defense mechanism in the body – chronic inflammation has been connected with a wide range of health problems, including heart disease and autoimmune diseases. If you’re concerned about the impact of inflammation on your health, consider the following foods, herbs, supplements and lifestyle factors as ways to reduce inflammation in your body and live a healthier, happier life.
1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Foods that Reduce Inflammation
One of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation in your body is to be more conscious of what you put in it. Start by limiting your intake of foods known to causes inflammation, such as:
- Dairy Products
- Meat (primarily beef and pork): animals raised on a feedlot are often grain-fed, resulting in a meat product that is high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids; beef and pork may also contain arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation
- Wheat: even those who are not gluten-intolerant may have a reaction to wheat that causes increased inflammation in the body
Once you’ve reduced well-known inflammatory foods from your diet, start adding in foods that fight inflammation, such as:
- Fish: Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation.
- Leafy greens: Kale, spinach, broccoli and other leafy greens and dark cruciferous vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation levels.
- Nuts such as almonds and walnuts contain healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.
- Green tea contains high amounts of antioxidants known as catechins, which can help prevent the creation of pro-inflammatory substances in the body.
- Shiitake mushrooms contain vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system, which in turn helps regulate inflammatory response in the body.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Supplements
- Turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Several studies have shown curcumin to be helpful in reducing inflammation associated with both arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Garlic: Among its many health benefits, garlic has been show to inhibit inflammation.
- Ginger: This anti-inflammatory herb contains compounds called gingerols, which help prevent the formation of inflammation-causing compounds in the body.
- Fish Oil: If you’re not a fan of fish, consider fish oil supplements. You’ll still get the benefit of all the omega-3 fatty acids, just in a simpler, less pungent package.
- Glucosamine sulfate is important to the cartilage in your joints. Taking a supplement of this can help offset joint inflammation.
- balanceME: Part of our new maintainME program, this supplement is a potent anti-inflammatory that can help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract without harming healthy digestive bacteria.
3. Drink More Water
Here’s one more reason to drink more water: staying properly hydrated can help keep inflammation under control. Water helps flush the body of toxins and other irritants. Plus, water is crucial to keeping many body systems in good working order, helping your body naturally tackle problems more efficiently.
4. Exercise Regularly
Routine exercise helps reduce inflammation in the body. A study from University College London found that just 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week can lead to a 12% reduction in inflammation markers. As we move, our muscle tissue releases a protein molecule called cytokine that has been connected to a drop in inflammation.
5. Get More Sleep
You hear it time and time again – you need to sleep more! There are many reasons to get more shut-eye: it can boost your immune system, help you maintain healthy weight – and even reduce inflammation in your body. A study from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta found that routine sleep deprivation (6 or fewer hours a night) leads to an increase in inflammatory hormones. Sleeping for at least 7 to 8 hours a night can help your body recharge and better fight off stress-related hormones.
6. Try Dry Brushing
As one of the largest organs in the body and an important part of your body’s natural detox system, the skin can play a major role in regulating many things in our bodies, including inflammation. Dry brushing your skin can increase circulation, boost the lymphatic system, improve the body’s ability to remove toxins and much more. (For more on dry brushing, check out Amie Valpone’s post on TheHealthyApple.com.)
7. Use an Infrared Sauna
Spending time in an infrared sauna has many health benefits, including possible inflammation reduction. A 2003 study from the Department of Dermatology and Institute of Medical Research found that using near-infrared heat therapy helped alleviate inflammation in the body.