3 Ways of Preventing Chronic Inflammation

When acute, inflammation is neither dangerous nor harmful. But when a poor diet, lack of exercise, and sleep deprivation are compounded over a long period of time, regular inflammation can quickly become chronic. This kind of inflammation stresses the body’s cells without the typical signs of redness or swelling, causing much more harm than benefit. It can even cause muscle and joint degeneration if left untreated. 


Fortunately, anyone can prevent (and reduce) chronic inflammation by following a lifestyle filled with proper dieting habits, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.


Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your regular diet will not only help to reduce inflammation—it reduces bad cholesterol as well. The bad news: less sugar and fewer ready-made meals. The good news: You do not need to live solely on whole grains and leafy vegetables. 


When exercising, even just a 20-minute session can stimulate the immune system and produce an anti-inflammatory effect. My advice is to consult your physician and formulate a routine that works for your body and schedule. Find what works for you and stick to it.

A deep sleep cycle gives your body the opportunity to perform housekeeping functions and reduce existing inflammation. Sleep a minimum of 6 hours per night and the body will respond accordingly.


And yes, it is that easy to prevent chronic inflammation and live healthier.

When acute, inflammation is neither dangerous nor harmful. On the contrary, inflammation is a vital part of the body’s natural defense system against damaged cells and muscle tissue. And it works to help the body heal itself after an injury, infection, and invasive contagions.


But when a poor diet, lack of exercise, and sleep deprivation are compounded over a long period of time, regular inflammation can quickly become chronic. This kind of inflammation stresses the body’s cells without the typical signs of redness or swelling, causing much more harm than benefit. Research indicates that chronic inflammation is the primary fuel for most chronic afflictions—like asthma, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and a swarm of digestive disorders. It can even cause muscle and joint degeneration if left untreated. 


Fortunately, effective treatment does not come with a hefty price-tag nor complicated procedure. Anyone can prevent (and reduce) chronic inflammation by following a lifestyle filled with proper dieting habits, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.


With Food


Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your regular diet will not only help to reduce inflammation—it reduces bad cholesterol as well. 


The bad news: less sugar and fewer ready-made meals. The good news: an anti-inflammatory diet is still rich in meats, dairy and even red wine. You do not need to live solely on whole grains and leafy vegetables. Some examples of anti-inflammatory foods include fish, avocadoes, dark chocolate, and bacon. 

You could even try cooking with more anti-inflammatory spices like:

  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne
  • Black Pepper
  • Clove

    More good news: you don’t need to sacrifice taste for nutrition. The popular Mediterranean Diet, for instance, is a great example of a delicious yet healthy eating plan. It has an eclectic range of spice and flavor combinations that blends plenty of eggs, beans, pita bread, and hearty veggies. 

Remember, we can still indulge in the inflammatory foods every once in a while. It’s when they become a staple part of our diet that chronic inflammation develops. 


With Movement 

Like I mentioned in a previous post on reducing stress, regular exercise really does work wonders (on both a mental and physical level). Aside from the dopamine rush, exercise triggers the body’s immunological responses. 

I understand that many of us just don’t have the time (or willpower) for a long, sweaty workout session. But even just a 20-minute session of moderate exercisecan stimulate the immune system and produce an anti-inflammatory effect. Be aware that CrossFit and HIIT isn’t for everyone, especially if you currently suffer from any chronic joint or muscle inflammation. In fact, over-exercise may exacerbate your condition. My advice is to consult your physician and formulate a routine that works for your body and schedule. 

One study found that basic bodyweight exercises (think pushups, squats and planks) could also help reduce inflammation. If that’s not your thing, however, yoga is a much gentler bodyweight workout. If you spend long hours sitting at a desk, try switching to a standing desk or even investing in an under desk bike pedal to keep your legs active as you work. You might prefer walking or hiking outdoors to reap the soothing benefits of nature. Or maybe you dust off an old treadmill and jog while enjoying the new season of The Mandalorian. 

A quick Google search provides a seemingly endless number of online fitness classes and videos covering just about every kind of exercise program. Find what works for you and stick to it.

With Sleep

Lack of regular sleep triggers a wide range of inflammatory reactions (beyond the standard puffy eyes). A deep sleep cycle, on the other hand, gives your body the opportunity to perform housekeeping functions and reduce existing inflammation. Sleep a minimum of 6 hours per night and the body will respond accordingly.


If you have difficulty sleeping try to keep a regular bedtime and wake-up time, avoid caffeine in the evening, and limit screen time just before bed. Use an eye mask if you need one. And establish quiet hours if you live with roommates or housemates. 

 

Still can’t sleep? A small glass of red wine before bed is another good option. Aside from the antioxidants, red wine contains resveratrol, a highly anti-inflammatory component that could even slow dementia progression.  


Inflammation has garnered a lot of attention in the past 10 years. Multiple studies have been written on acute inflammation and a myriad of prescriptions have been developed to help patients cope with chronic inflammation. But even as the list of studies and prescriptions continue to grow, I find it’s the natural—often simpler—methods that people keep returning to. 

By following a lifestyle filled with good food, regular exercise, and ample sleep, anyone can prevent chronic inflammation and live healthier.

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