Inflammation can be a pain to deal with, especially when you don’t know the exact cause. It could happen due to a variety of reasons and begin to slowly damage your body without you even noticing, which is why leading a healthy life is so important! And even if you already do, inflammation can still happen because our bodies go through an infinite number of processes every day, and we can’t always control everything that happens inside - but we can definitely try!
Even though inflammation is a natural response from your body, it can negatively affect your life and even lead to chronic illness in the future, which is why you should try to stay away from it whenever possible. And while it might sound a little difficult, it really isn’t!
Managing inflammation in your body can be as simple as eating well and exercising, helping you see results overnight, so you can start implementing small changes for an almost immediate improvement in your quality of life. We’ve put together a helpful guide on how to reduce inflammation in the body fast, but first let’s talk a little bit more about what inflammation actually is and why you should try to reduce it!
What is inflammation and why is it bad?
Inflammation is an immunological response from your body that happens when you have an injury, an infection, or an illness. When your body detects a harmful agent, it sends white blood cells, proteins, and an increased blood flow to the damaged area to surround, protect, and heal it, causing swelling and redness all around. Inflammation could happen from something as simple as stubbing your toe or cutting your finger, to bigger issues such as having an infected injury. This is known as acute inflammation, and it’s a natural response that’s essential in aiding you from small scratches to potentially deadly infections.
However, sometimes this process lingers and your immunological system can mistake your own cells as harmful even when there’s no outside danger, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. This is known as chronic inflammation, and it can contribute to a number of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes (type 1 and 2), and rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation can also occur as a result of certain factors such as being overweight, stress, and alcohol consumption - but we’ll touch on that in a moment!
Managing and reducing inflammation is crucial to living a healthier life because if inflammation is left unattended it can start damaging the healthy cells and tissues that make up your organs, leading to even more health problems and illnesses. Luckily, there are a few things that you can put to practice in your daily life to ease inflammation and give your body some relief, so let’s talk a little bit more about that…
How to reduce inflammation
Whether you’ve been neglecting your health lately or you actually make an effort to lead a healthy and balanced life, inflammation can still occur due to a variety of reasons.
We’ve put together a list of key factors that play a big role when preventing or reducing inflammation, so you can play a more active role in taking care of your health!
Control your diet
One of the biggest sources of unwanted inflammation is, of course, inflammatory foods! Processed foods filled with refined carbs and trans fats, like fast food or fried foods, can be your worst enemy when you don’t eat them in moderation. This is because they fill you up with unnecessary additives instead of the nutrients that your body needs, leading up to several health problems - including inflammation. Other foods such as red meats and margarine can also increase it, so you’ll want to keep an eye on them, especially if you find yourself struggling with inflammation constantly because you might not notice that these foods are doing more harm than good to your body!
Ideally, your diet should consist mainly of whole foods that are nutrient-rich so that your body can use those nutrients to balance everything in your body and keep it healthy. And when it comes to foods that fight inflammation, there’s a wide range that you can choose from! Spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon are great to fight inflammation and you can add them to almost every meal for extra flavor, so it’s very easy to incorporate them into your diet. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach have unique anti-inflammatory properties, and healthy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil are perfect (and delicious) to cook with, especially if you follow a plant-based diet or a Mediterranean diet, helping you avoid inflammatory oils such as soybean and canola oil. Additionally, fatty fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and mackerel are perfect for an anti-inflammatory diet. And don’t forget to eat lots of fruits and vegetables!
Controlling your diet isn’t only about eating well, but also actively choosing foods and ingredients that will help you stay healthy and thriving. So make sure to pick up some of these foods at the grocery store to add them to your next recipe!
Manage your stress
If your diet is great and you’re filling up on anti-inflammatory foods, but you’re still encountering the same problem, you should start looking into other aspects of your life that might be contributing to inflammation - such as stress!
If your daily life is constantly hectic and you have a lot on your plate, or you’re going through a tough time and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might experience inflammation due to the stress that your particular situation is causing. Stress harms your body in a number of ways, and inflammation isn’t the exception. The longer you stay stressed, the longer the unwanted inflammation persists because your heart rate and blood vessels are constantly under tension due to the fight-or-flight state that stress puts you in.
Whether you’re a hard worker that likes to always go above and beyond for your company, or you’re a mother of two little ones that needs to stay on top of things at all times, stress is something that you can learn to manage - and you need to! Some people learn to live with the stress of their daily lives, not noticing that it’s slowly harming their bodies, so it’s important to make yourself a priority and start finding healthy ways to get rid of that stress, even if it’s just for a moment. Regular activities such as winding down watching your favorite tv show or going out for a walk early in the morning might sound simple, but they’re incredibly effective at lowering your stress levels because they take your mind off of whatever is troubling you.
Try setting aside a little bit of time every day to enjoy yourself for a moment, and learn to control your breathing whenever you feel like stress is taking over again. Pausing to take a deep breath can go a long way when you’re feeling overwhelmed, so try it next time!
Very few things challenge your health more in the long run than being completely sedentary, because your body needs movement to stay in tip-top shape. Physical activity, no matter the type, greatly reduces inflammation because it gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing throughout your whole body, improving your cardiovascular health and your immune system, which helps your white cells get to where they need to be much quicker.
That said, not everyone has the time to create a full workout routine for the week. If you can do it, that’s great! But if not, physical activity encompasses more than just going to the gym. You could choose to go around your block on your bike, run a few laps at your local park, or jump rope in your backyard without needing to leave your home. Even cleaning your house or doing the laundry count as physical activity, the important thing is that you get your body moving and your blood flowing so you can tackle inflammation as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Keep in mind, low to moderate exercise helps to reduce inflammation, but very high-intensity exercise can actually increase it, so make sure you’re staying healthy in other aspects of your life to keep that inflammation at bay. Prioritizing post-workout recovery can also help with inflammation, and help your muscles recover effectively for better results!
Get enough sleep
We’ve said it many times before and we’ll say it again: sleeping is crucial for keeping good health! A lack of sleep is directly tied to increased levels of inflammation because it messes up your inflammatory markers. Not only that, but losing sleep will cause you to be more tired during the day, possibly leading you to drink more coffee (which is an inflammatory agent) and also feel more stressed throughout the day. It’s a chain reaction that can only harm your body more and more, and you might not even notice, which is why so many people underestimate the power of sleep.
Having good sleep quality can go a long way, and you can start doing this by turning off any screens before you go to sleep. Don’t go to bed with your phone in your hand or leave the tv on, instead try to block any lights so you can sleep peacefully in a dark and quiet room - or with a small lamp on, if you prefer! And try your best to go to sleep early instead of entertaining yourself until you’re fighting to keep your eyes open, especially if you need to wake up early in the morning. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep, ideally 8 or 9 so your body can restore itself during the night and rest adequately for a brand new day.
Sleeping well will help fight off inflammation instead of triggering it, and it will also improve almost every other aspect of your life, so try to keep a good sleeping schedule whenever you can!
We previously talked about managing and reducing your stress to get rid of inflammation in the body, and yoga has been proven to be effective at lowering your stress levels and directly lowering inflammation, on top of other health benefits. A study published by the Biological Research for Nursing shows the decrease of inflammatory biomarkers following yoga practice, particularly interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, which are key markers when detecting inflammation in the body.  This study also found that more time doing yoga results in a greater inflammation improvement, proving that yoga is an easily approachable and effective way to keep inflammation at bay by incorporating it into your daily life.
Yoga reduces stress responses and relaxes your body, lowering your cortisol levels which directly affect your health in many ways, including inflammation. It’s also a breathing-based practice, meaning that it uses your breathing as a tool to help regulate your mood and improve your well-being, throwing in some great physical activity in the mix. It’s the perfect activity to wind down after a long day, especially if you’re suffering from inflammation and want to feel better before going to bed for a good night’s sleep.
The bottom line is: inflammation can be managed for the most part, and leading a healthy life is key to achieving it. You don’t need crazy remedies or an extreme diet to do it, just make sure to get enough nutrients through whole foods, sleep well, and move your body! And if you notice that inflammation isn’t going away after implementing all of these tips, consider consulting a doctor for further monitoring. But even then, try to stick to a healthy way of living to ease your symptoms, because taking care of your body is much more than just preventing one single issue.
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