Inflammation is an important part of the body’s defence mechanism. It protects your body from infection and outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. If inflammation progresses and becomes chronic, however, it can damage your organs, arteries, and joints. Chronic inflammation is also associated with many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer.
Since chronic inflammation is linked to so many ailments, knowing how to fight it can help you improve your health. Read on to learn more about ways you can naturally reduce inflammation.
What Causes Inflammation in the Body?
Inflammation is a natural immune response in our body. When inflammation occurs as a result of an injury or infection, chemicals from your body’s white blood cells are secreted into your blood to protect your body. This, in turn, raises the blood flow to the area where an infection or injury occurred, causing redness and warmth. Some chemicals may cause fluid to leak into your tissues, which will result in swelling.
What Are the Two Types of Inflammation?
While the protective inflammatory process is necessary, it can cause problems if it persists. Inflammation can be categorized as being either short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic).
Acute inflammation typically goes away within a few hours or days. Signs of acute inflammation include pain, redness, swelling, heat at the site of injury, and loss of function, though these signs are not always present. The common cold, headaches, and joint pain due to injury are all examples of acute inflammation.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can last months or years. It can develop if a person has a sensitivity, autoimmune disorder, or autoinflammatory disease. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease are all conditions that have been linked to chronic inflammation.
How to Get Rid of Inflammation in the Body
1. Eat a Healthy, Predominantly Plant-Based Diet
The foods you choose to eat can have a significant impact on the inflammation in your body. Research has shown that what you eat can impact the levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP), which is a marker for inflammation, in your blood. Some foods, like nuts and fruits, can help your body fight against oxidative stress, which is known to trigger inflammation.
Here are some anti-inflammatory foods you should incorporate into your diet:
● Whole plant foods: Whole grains, fruits, and veggies have anti-inflammatory nutrients that can help your body function properly. Unrefined grains that are high in fibre, and fruits and veggies that have a variety of colors, are especially effective at reducing inflammation. Brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and oranges are all great anti-inflammatory foods.
● Omega-3-rich foods: Omega-3 fatty acids can thwart the production of pro-inflammatory substances, and they play an important role in regulating your body’s inflammatory process. These healthy fats can also help regulate pain that is related to inflammation. Fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds are great sources of omega-3s.
● Antioxidant-rich foods: Antioxidants neutralize excess free radicals to help protect cells and reduce inflammation. Foods that are rich in antioxidants include berries, avocados, leafy greens, whole grains, beans and lentils, turmeric, and green tea.
In addition to eating all these foods, you may need to take dietary supplements, like omega-3 fatty acid supplements, vitamin D, and vitamin C, to ensure you are getting enough nutrients to experience anti-inflammatory effects.
2. Eliminate Inflammatory Foods
What you choose to not put in your grocery cart is also extremely important when it comes to inflammation. Certain foods promote the release of inflammatory messengers that can increase the risk of developing chronic inflammation. Some of these foods include:
● Refined carbohydrates: The refined carbohydrates that have become so prevalent in modern diets have a higher glycemic index (GI) than carbs that are unprocessed. High GI foods raise blood sugar much quicker than low GI foods, which may drive inflammation. White bread, white rice, pastries, and breakfast cereals are all heavily processed refined carbs.
● Sugar and high fructose corn syrup: The two main types of added sugar in Western diets are table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. They are both very high in fructose, which has been linked to multiple diseases, including diabetes and cancer, when eaten in large amounts. Foods that have a lot of added sugar include chocolate, candy, cakes, cookies, and soft drinks.
● Processed meat: Processed meats contain more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) than other meats. Studies have shown that AGEs cause inflammation. Bacon, sausage, ham, beef jerky, and smoked meat are all considered to be processed meat.
Artificial trans fats, vegetable and seed oils, and foods that contain gluten and/or dairy may also cause inflammation in the body.
3. Take Probiotics
Your gut microbiome plays a very important role in your health, and several studies have linked the gut microbiota (all the bacteria, fungi, and microbes that make up your gut microbiome) to inflammatory diseases. Without a healthy intestinal lining, you may end up with leaky gut syndrome and an onslaught of immune issues.
Taking probiotic supplements and eating probiotic-rich foods can help improve your gut health and reduce inflammation. Kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, and kefir are all excellent sources of probiotics. Switching to a gut health diet that consists of a wide range of plant-based foods, fibre-rich foods like beans and legumes, organic meat that is antibiotic/hormone-free, whole grains, and healthy fats can also strengthen your gut microbiome.
4. Exercise Regularly
There are many long-term health benefits of physical exercise, and reducing inflammation is one of them! When you exercise, your sympathetic nervous system is activated. It helps to increase your breathing rate, blood pressure, and heart rate. Your body also releases hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine into your bloodstream. These hormones activate the adrenergic receptors of immune cells.
One 2017 study found that even just a 20-minute session of moderate exercise is enough to stimulate the immune system and produce anti-inflammatory effects.
5. Use Stress Management Techniques
Chronic stress can contribute to inflammation and induce or worsen numerous medical conditions. When you are stressed, your body goes into a “fight-or-flight” response and releases the stress hormone cortisol. Having high levels of cortisol for prolonged periods of time can alter its ability to regulate inflammatory and immune responses.
Yoga has been found to be particularly effective at reducing inflammation levels. A 2010 study of 50 women found that those who practiced yoga had 41% lower levels of interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation, than those who did not practice yoga. Meditation, slow diaphragmatic breathing, humming, and cold showers are also great ways to manage stress and reduce inflammation.
6. Get Sufficient Sleep
Last but certainly not least, getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night can help keep inflammation at bay. When you sleep, your breathing and muscle activity slows down and allows your immune system to perform critical tasks. Poor sleep, which can be defined as lower than average time asleep and/or lower sleep efficiency, is linked to higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers.
Adopting a nighttime routine that involves turning off all your devices at least an hour before bed, meditating close to your bedtime, and limiting alcohol and caffeinated beverages in the evening can help ensure you give your body the rest it needs to function properly.
There you have it – five ways you can naturally fight inflammation! By putting these tips into practice, you can lead a healthier life and prevent diseases that may be brought on by chronic inflammation. To learn more about things you can do to optimize your health and wellness, follow Revivele on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!