A healthy diet goes a long way, but add in these simple everyday changes and you can help get inflammation under control for years to come.
To find other remedies for inflammation, see 9 Foods that Reduce Inflammation.
• Get more sleep: Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta found that sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality raises inflammation in the body. “Sleep—at least seven and a half to eight hours a night—is extremely useful for recharging the body and decreasing inflammatory hormones like cortisol and adrenaline,” says doctor Jeffrey Morrison, author of Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind. “It’s these stress hormones that make the body more susceptible to inflammation.” Finding it hard to sleep at night? Don’t use electronic devices (including TV, computer or your smartphone) for at least two hours before going to bed. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with the production of a key sleep hormone, melatonin. Also, shut off your Wi-Fi before you go to bed; some experts believe the signals can interfere with our bodies’ own electrical impulses during the night—making us more agitated or anxious and unable to sleep soundly.
• Maintain a healthy weight: Fat causes inflammation, says New Jersey-based integrative doctor Kristine Gedroic. “Your fat is not the product of your inflammation; it becomes the source of your inflammation.” For good health, we must keep our weight within a healthy range. Excess weight around the middle, particularly, is an active source of hormones and inflammatory compounds. When we lose excess weight, our bodies’ inflammation levels decrease. One study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that when overweight or obese women dropped at least 5 percent of their body weight, they had measurable declines in markers of inflammation.
• Exercise regularly: A University of Illinois study found that exercise seems to help heal chronic inflammation in the skin—a benefit that could be extrapolated to the entire body, the researchers say. The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found that exercise helps increase blood flow in the body and decreases the amount of inflammatory molecules released in the body. Another study—conducted by Mark Hamer, an epidemiologist at University College London—found that just two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week (about 20 minutes a day) reduced markers of inflammation by 12 percent. The reason? When we exercise, our fat and muscle tissues release big bursts of proteins called cytokines into our bloodstream, helping inflammation to drop.
• Reduce stress: Chronically high levels of stress hormones can lead to the release of excess inflammatory chemicals. This is why finding ways to lower your stress every day (such as breathing exercises, yoga, meditation or a daily tea ritual) is key to staying healthy. Try them out for yourself, read 5 Simple Breathing Excercises.