Acute and chronic inflammation
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to a short-term threat such as a physical injury, infection, or seven our body not behaving as it should, according to the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular BioScience. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is an ongoing response to a longer-term medical condition such as arthritis, asthma, or Crohn’s disease, among others. This type of inflammation could cause health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, and even some cancers.
Eat a Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet focuses on nutrient-dense, mostly plant-based whole foods and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, legumes, and grains, according to dietitian Malina Linkas Malkini. Multiple studies show that following a Mediterranean diet has not only an intense anti-inflammatory effect but also improves cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.
Limit heavily processed foods
According to Malkani, reducing or limiting processed foods is another smart move to fight inflammation. This includes foods high in added sugar, man-made fats, fried goods, processed meats, and salts. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition specifically warns that foods high in processed sugars release pro-inflammatory cytokines – proteins released from certain cells.
Cook with herbs and spices
Embrace herbs and spices in your cooking. As well as adding flavour, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and especially turmeric all have anti-inflammatory properties. According to Malkani, turmeric contains the specific compound curcumin which helps lower inflammation levels in the body. Malkani advises pairing it with black pepper to promote better absorption.
Eat fruits and vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to reiterate the health benefits of both for managing inflammation. Malkani says people should focus on adding fruits to their diet because the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound anthocyanin is in everything from strawberries to cherries. “Try to eat at least one to two cups of whole fruit on a daily basis,” Malkani says. Sports neurologist, Dr Vernon Williams, adds that generally eating larger varieties of fresh, whole, colourful foods can help balance your diet.
Vitamin E-rich foods
An inflammation-fighting diet should include vitamin E-rich foods like nuts and seeds such as hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds, according to Kris Sollid from the International Food Information Council Foundation. “Vegetable oils like sunflower and safflower oil as well as green vegetables like broccoli and spinach are also good sources,” Sollid says.
Get in your Omegas
According to Dr Williams, omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids reduce and fight inflammation. Sollid adds that omega-3s are a double health whammy since they lower both blood pressure and inflammation while increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. The Heart Foundation of Australia recommends two to three serves of seafood such as salmon, anchovies, or sardines to reap these omega benefits.
Try yoga, tai-chi or meditation
Mind-body practices such as yoga, tai-chi, and meditation help reduce stress and fight inflammation. New Scientist reports that meditation and tai-chi can even impact the body at a cellular level. An analysis of 18 different studies found that genes related to inflammation were less active in people practicing mind-body activities. One of the researchers says the results also suggest these practices can reduce the risk for inflammation-related disorders themselves.
Stand, don’t sit
Prolonged sitting is linked to increased inflammation as well as a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even death, according to Dr Kristine Arthur. Dr Arthur recommends standing and moving your body as often as possible, even if you do exercise regularly. “The goal is to limit total hours of sitting during the day,” she says. “Small changes like standing while on the phone or using a computer at a standing desk can have a big impact on the total hours of sitting.”
Similar to standing instead of sitting, getting enough regular exercise can do wonders for inflammation. In fact, a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that just 20 minutes of exercise is enough to reduce inflammation. “Our study shows a workout session does not actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects,” Dr Suzi Hong, lead author of the study says. “Twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, seems to be sufficient.”
Get enough sleep
Inflammation is linked to both too little and too much sleep. So yes, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Poor quality sleep and insomnia are especially associated with inflammation, according to a report published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The ideal sleep duration is seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night.
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