Stress releases inflammatory chemicals. This alters the way your immune system responds to stress long-term. Your body requires acute inflammation to bolster your immune system and help you recover from a short-term illness or injury. Chronic inflammation is more insidious and creeps up on you slowly if you aren’t careful.
Scientists are starting to see how chronic inflammation might be the underlying cause of many illnesses, including diabetes and some cancers. Lifestyle changes will go a long way toward reducing chronic inflammation.
Please consult your doctor before implementing any of these changes, especially when any supplements are concerned. They can interact with certain medications.
Try one or a few of the following to help reduce chronic inflammation:
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to lower inflammation without any of the side effects associated with medications.
- Focus on eating a healthy diet. This includes avoiding pro-inflammatory foods such as:
- trans fats
- fried foods
- sugar and grains
- foods cooked at high temperatures
- cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked scrambled eggs.
At the very least, consume these foods in moderation.
- Take supplements. Get plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats by taking a high-quality fish oil supplement. Eat low-mercury fish such as salmon at least twice a week, or an ounce (about a handful) of nuts each day.
- Optimize your insulin levels. Consider limiting or eliminating your intake of grains and sugars. You can slowly add these foods back into your diet when your blood sugar is more stable.
- Quit smoking. Smoking hardens your arteries and increases inflammation. But research shows you can reverse all the damaging effects to your arteries within 10 years of quitting. Be sure you get your diet under control first so you don’t trade cigarettes for unhealthy junk foods.
- Get adequate sleep. Optimally, you shouldn’t require an alarm clock to awaken you. Although not always practical, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends. Be strategic about when and how long you take naps.
- Have healthy outlets for stress and other negative emotions. High levels of stress hormones can lead to the release of excess inflammatory chemicals, called cytokines. Be sure you utilize effective tools to help deal with your current stress. Resolve past emotional challenges as well. Meditation, prayer, social activities, and yoga are all useful stress management techniques designed to help you decompress. The key is to have a healthy outlet that works specifically for you.
- Lose weight if necessary. If you’re a woman with a waist measurement of over 35 inches or a man with a waist of over 40 inches, you probably have high inflammation. This kind of inflammation usually is associated with visceral fat that hugs your internal organs. Find an activity you enjoy and do it consistently. Staying sedentary is a friend of inflammation.
Utilizing just one or a few of the practical tips above can help you reach an optimal level of physical health, while simultaneously safeguarding your mental health.