How to Reduce Inflammation
There are two types of inflammation. There's acute inflammation, and then there's chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is something that doctors and researchers are increasingly finding is linked to serious medical conditions and diseases.
Acute inflammation usually occurs in response to an injury. For example, if you're in a car accident and your soft tissue is injured, then you will recover eventually. Whiplash is an example of an acute soft tissue injury that can create inflammation.
You can also have acute inflammation if you're sick with something like the flu or a cold.
Symptoms of acute inflammation from an injury or illness can include warmth, swelling, and redness. When you're injured, your immune system releases white blood cells that then go to the area of injury to protect it, which is what inflammation is.
Acute inflammation helps speed up your healing process, so it's a good thing.
Chronic inflammation is something different in that it can come from ongoing exposure to a toxin or irritant, or perhaps because of an autoimmune response. Chronic inflammation can last for months or even years.
Some of the symptoms of chronic inflammation can include brain fog, bloating, fatigue, and pain.
Chronic inflammation is associated with cancer, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and bowel diseases including Crohn's disease.
There are some blood tests that can determine if you have chronic inflammation.
There's one called the C-reactive protein test or CRP, which is a protein produced by the liver. When you're experiencing inflammation, it goes up. If you have a CRP between 1 and 3 mg per liter of blood, you may have low levels of chronic inflammation. There's also an erythrocyte sedimentation rate test that looks for inflammation in the blood.
If you have chronic inflammation, taking steps to reduce it can improve your health and quality of life.
Manage Your Diet
Some foods can tamp down inflammation, but there are also foods that can ramp it up. Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet.
The Mediterranean diet is one example of a way of eating that may reduce inflammation levels. The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fish and whole grains. You would limit fats like butter, egg yolks, and red meat, and also processed sugar and carbs.
Anti-inflammatory foods include things with omega-3 fatty acids like cold-water fish, flax seeds, and walnuts. Blueberries, garlic, tea, and spices like turmeric are also anti-inflammatory.
Foods that can spike inflammation include anything with trans fats, fried foods, and processed foods such as packaged cakes and cookies.
Controlling your blood sugar can be helpful to reduce inflammation too. To control your blood sugar, try to eliminate simple carbohydrates like white rice, white flour, and refined sugar.
If inflammation is a concern, a good rule to follow is avoiding white floods. Try to eat as many antioxidants as you can, which are known to prevent and repair tissue and cell damage.
Sugar is also believed to be one of the things that most significantly contributes to inflammation, particularly from sugary drinks. If you can cut out sugar and sugary drinks or at least reduce your intake, you may be able to reduce your inflammation significantly.
Exercise can help combat inflammation in multiple ways. First, it can help you lose weight, and obesity is in and of itself linked to higher levels of inflammation.
Regularly exercising also reduces something called adipose tissue inflammation, which is associated with systemic inflammation.
When you lose fat, it increases your muscle production of something called IL-6, which can increase anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Aim for 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least four to five times a week, and 10 to 25 minutes of resistance or weight training.
When you're often stressed, it can increase your levels of cortisol. This then affects how cortisol can regulate not only your inflammatory response but also your immune response.
There are many things you can look to as techniques to reduce your stress.
The right option for you depends on what you prefer.
Some people find that spending time outdoors reduces their stress, or perhaps detaching themselves from the news or their phone for a period of time everyday. Exercising may help with your stress, as can yoga or meditation.
Talk to Your Doctor About Herbal Supplements
Many herbal supplements might help you reduce your inflammation, but you should speak to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Turmeric, with the active ingredient curcumin, is a popular option. You don't have to take turmeric in supplement form-you can also cook with it.
Ginger can help with inflammation and also gastrointestinal problems.
Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol
Alcohol, particularly if you drink a lot, can contribute to inflammation. Even if you don't entirely cut out alcohol, try to drink red wine, which may have heart health benefits, and have only a limited amount.
When you take even a short break from alcohol, it can help your body's inflammation calm down.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a wonderful beverage in so many ways. One way to incorporate it into your daily routine is to swap out a cup of coffee for a cup of green tea.
Green tea leaves have something called polyphenol compounds, which can reduce the free radical damage that contributes to inflammation.
There's also some evidence regularly having green tea can help reduce your risk of developing cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting more sleep and better quality sleep can reduce chronic inflammation. Your body needs restful sleep to repair itself.
Try to improve your sleep environment and sleep habits if you struggle in this area.
Overall what's important to note when it comes to inflammation is the fact that when you take steps to reduce it, you're doing things that are also good for all areas of your health so it's a win-win. Reducing alcohol and sugar, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and resting are all things that are going to improve your mental and physical health.