8 Natural Ways to Fight Inflammation
While inflammation can be a good thing, if it lingers for too long, it could cause serious health issues. (1) Check out these eight natural ways to fight inflammation.
Good vs. Bad Inflammation
There are two types of inflammation: the kind you want and the kind you don’t want. Acute inflammation (good inflammation) is your body’s automatic response to injury. You’ll notice the site of injury becomes red, warm, and swollen, which is what happens when your white blood cells swarm to the rescue. After your injury is healed, all inflammation should disappear.
But when inflammation overstays its welcome, your white blood cells inadvertently begin to destroy healthy tissues, organs, and blood vessels. This is known as chronic inflammation (bad inflammation). The extent of this can show up as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, and other health issues. (1)
Tips for Natural Ways to Fight Inflammation
1. Consider Intermittent Fasting
The point of intermittent fasting is to give your gut a break. Think about it: your stomach has a big job to do, and if you overwork it for too long, irritation can lead to inflammation. To prevent gut inflammation, try intermittent fasting (not eating for certain periods of the day).
In one intermittent-fasting study, participants were asked to not eat for specific hours of the day. The results showed a significant decrease in white blood cells, meaning there was little infection found inside the participants’ bodies. (2)
2. Get Enough Sleep
Just a single night of less sleep can increase your chances of inflammation. In a past study, researchers found that when a person’s sleep was cut by 25% to 50%, there was an increased amount of inflammation markers found in the body. (3)
You might not be too surprised to learn that a lack of sleep has health risks, but did you know that oversleeping has the same health consequences? A meta-analysis examining 72 studies found that long sleep duration was associated with an increase of inflammation in the body. (4)
The Centers for Disease Control says that your age is a good way to determine your sleep “sweet spot.” Adults need between 7 and 8 hours per night. Teenagers need 8 – 10 hours of sleep because they’re going through vital stages of growth. (5)
3. Get Your Heart Pumping
By exercising, you can reduce fat mass that leads to chronic inflammation. (6) If you don’t have time to do a full workout, try going on a short walk. Studies show that getting your heart pumping for just 20 minutes a day helps reduce inflammation blood markers. (7)
4. Eat a Salad
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage have natural anti-inflammatory properties. There are other foods with anti-inflammatory properties too, like nuts, whole grains, and some fruits. (8) Salads are a great way to get these foods into your diet.
5. Cut Down on Sugar
Foods with added sugars like high fructose corn syrup and table sugar can cause inflammation that leads to heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, depression, and other illnesses. Aside from the obvious desserts and candy, added sugar can be unexpectedly found in foods like peanut butter. (9) According to dietary guidelines, you can limit your sugar intake by checking ingredients and choosing healthier food alternatives. (10)
6. Just Relax
Stressors can trigger inflammation. However, we can’t just avoid stress. It’s a part of life (11)! That’s why it’s important to practice mind-body intervention. Activities such as yoga, mediation, Tai Chi, and Qigong have been proven to help you relax and reduce inflammation in your body. (12)
7. Pace Yourself When Drinking Alcohol
The liver plays an important role in getting rid of inflammation in the body. Alcohol impairs liver function, resulting in a buildup of inflammation in the body that can lead to organ damage. (13) To prevent this, make sure you’re not drinking too much or too fast. It takes the liver an hour to process one alcoholic beverage. The higher your blood alcohol level is, the more time it will take to process a drink. (14)
8. Fight Inflammation With Antioxidants
An antioxidant is any compound that protects your body against free radicals. Free radicals can destroy your cells and cause oxidative stress, which then leads to chronic inflammation. Giving your body all the antioxidants it needs is key to preventing inflammation. (15)
All of the tips above may help you get the antioxidants your body needs. However, the hard part is doing these things often enough to keep inflammation away.
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