4 Simple Approaches to Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Updated: Jul 13
Previously I mentioned how harmful systemic and "seemingly invisible" chronic inflammation can be for our overall health. Science has proven that chronic, low-grade inflammation can turn into a silent killer that contributes to cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
I also covered how chronic inflammation can have many harmful side-effects that may not be life threatening, but can cause a lot of stress on our bodies. Issues like IBD, IBS, depression, mood swings, anxiety, body pain, lower tolerance to pain, frequent viral infections, body fatigue can all be attributed to chronic inflammation.
So now that we know how bad system-wide, chronic inflammation can be for our health, how do we prevent and/or reduce it from affecting us?
Avoiding some of the triggers would be step #1 for preventing chronic inflammation - to find out more on triggers read this article.
And for reducing inflammation in case we may be suffering from it, check out 4 approachable steps to take below...
Eating Healthier Foods
Making good choices in our diet to include fresh vegetables and fruits as well as reducing refined sugar intake can make a big difference.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, and tofu, walnuts, flax seeds and soybeans. Other anti-inflammatory foods include grapes, celery, blueberries, garlic, olive oil, tea and some spices (ginger, rosemary and turmeric).
The Mediterranean diet is a good example of an anti-inflammatory diet. This is due to its focus on fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limits on unhealthy fats as well as processed and refined sugars and carbs.
Add Exercise Back Into Your Day
For many of us we grew up engaging in regular activity and exercise - either through youth athletics or just from being a kid and playing with other kids in the neighborhood. Adding exercise back into our daily activities would prevent inflammation.
For many adults that's hard to approach if they may already be dealing with pain from chronic inflammation. If you're just beginning to add in activity, start small and choose options that create the least amount of impact on your body.
Activities such as aqua-walking and/or aqua aerobics, walking on a treadmill or in the neighborhood on a paved path or trail, spin classes or riding a bike, rowing, taking up gentle Yoga or Pilates are all good options.
Another option that's proven to be clinically superior to several others is to start a weight training program under the guidance of a trained coach.
To learn more about what to look for in a coach or personal trainer, click here.
Try to Lose Weight
For a few of us, there was a time when we were at an "ideal weight" - meaning we remember a time when we looked and felt our best. Gaining weight happens frequently for most adults, but trying to remain at a closer to ideal weight is better for long-term health.
If you need to lose weight, consult with your doctor and a registered nutritionist or dietician. They can help you make simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, that if you maintain will help you lose weight - which can help ward off the effects of chronic inflammation.
If you're struggling on your own already to lose weight, it would be best to talk to a health specialist - they can help get you better insights and results for your special considerations and circumstances.
Manage Stress Better
Chronic stress contributes to our inflammation. Consider using meditation, yoga, guided imagery or some other method to manage stress throughout the day.
We may not be able to change many of the stressful situations we will encounter in life, but we can change our response and perception by learning to manage stress better. Mental health has become a bigger field and many experts can help us reduce psychological stress from affecting our bodies.
If you are already trying to stay on top of the big 4 steps above that are recommended by doctors and health specialists most often, you can also consider a few smaller tweaks.
Sunlight - getting some sessions of sunlight can help resolve pain associated with chronic inflammation, exposure to UVB rays causes human skin to produce beta-endorphins, which are hormones that reduce pain. The anti-inflammatory effect of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has indicated that sunlight exposure may influence inflammation and reduce the incidence of inflammatory diseases.
Better & More Sleep - Many people wake up more often during the night and wake up in the morning feeling tired. These are signs that you aren't sleeping deep enough at night. A sleep shortfall interferes with the normal function of the brain’s house-cleaning system - the glymphatic system. In the deepest sleep phases, cerebrospinal fluid rushes through the brain, sweeping away beta-amyloid protein linked to brain cell damage. Without a good night’s sleep, this housecleaning process is less thorough, allowing said protein to accumulate and inflammation to develop. Then, a vicious cycle sets in. Beta-amyloid buildup in the brain’s frontal lobe starts to impair deeper, non-REM slow-wave sleep. This damage makes it harder both to sleep and to retain and consolidate memories.Just one night of lost sleep can keep beta-amyloid levels higher than usual. Check out this article to get better sleep.
See A Neuromuscular or Musculoskeletal Specialist - Sometimes the central nervous system is managing a lot of issues, and seeing a specialist that can improve your muscular communication, motor control or bodily functions can streamline some of your physical issues. These changes can allow the CNS to focus more intently on trying to heal itself internally. Massage, Muscle Activation Techniques, Physical Therapy and Chiropractic care can all alleviate some physical factors contributing to your pain or inflammation - which can then allow the body to more effectively heal itself faster.
See Your Doctor
If you're worried you might suffer from symptoms of chronic inflammation and/or you may be dealing with several triggers for it - then reducing chronic inflammation is the first step.
And another logical step is to see your primary care provider. They can run tests and figure out the best course of action to help you.
I hope you found this article helpful & informative! Share it with a friend that might need some guidance.