Chronic Inflammation | Impact of Inflammation on Your Body
How to Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation can have wide array of effects on the body. It can cause short-term joint pain or headaches, but it has also been linked with serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease. You can fight inflammation in several ways, and changing your diet or lifestyle is usually the first place to start.
Changing Your Diet
Replace refined carbohydrates with healthier carbohydrates.Refined carbohydrates, like white bread and pastries, have high amounts of sugar and low amounts of fiber. This can spike blood sugar levels, which can lead to weight gain and increased inflammation. Good carbohydrates to eat have high amounts of fiber and little added sugar, such as fruits and whole grain products.
Cut down on sugary foods and beverages.Sugar can cause weight gain and can promote inflammation in the body. Foods like candy and cookies have extremely high amounts of sugar and should be avoided. Even some cereals and granola bars have over 5 grams (0.18 oz) of added per serving, so read labels carefully before purchasing these products. Ideally, you should stay away from foods that have any added sugar, especially more than 3 grams (0.11 oz) a serving.
- Soda has a great deal of sugar and should be cut out of your diet completely when trying to lower inflammation or lose weight.
- Even diet sodas and sodas with sugar substitutes should be avoided.
Prioritize eating fruits and vegetables.These are always the healthiest foods to eat, as they are high in vitamins and fiber. They are also low in fat and do not contain added sugars. Try structuring your meals around fruits and vegetables. Instead of thinking of a meat dish as your main course, think about eating large salads instead.
- Aim to eat 3-5 servings of vegetables a day and 4-5 servings of fruits.
- While many people sometimes think of vegetables as unsatisfying foods, they have such high amounts of fiber that they can actually keep you full for a long time. Artichokes, broccoli, and peas have especially high amounts of fiber.
Reduce the amount of red and processed meat you eat.The most popular red meats are beef and pork. Some common processed meats include hot dogs, sausage, and pre-packaged deli cuts, like salami. Replace these proteins with leaner options, like fish, soy, or chicken.
Avoid eating fried foods.Fried foods usually have very high amounts of sugar or unhealthy fat and can promote inflammation. Some popular fried foods include french fries, fried chicken, and fried fish. If you fry these foods at home, consider baking or grilling them instead. When eating out, ask if you can replace fried items with baked or grilled foods.interzis
Eat fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel.These types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a particularly healthy kind of fat. As these types of fish are high in protein and fat, they are usually very filling and can satisfy your hunger, but will usually not promote inflammation in your body the way that red meat does.
Eat nuts like almonds and walnuts.Nuts have high amounts of healthy fats. Since they are easy to carry around and eat anywhere, they also make for a perfect snack. Make sure that you buy unsalted nuts, though, as salted nuts usually have unhealthy levels of sodium. Try eating nut butters -- like peanut butter and almond butter -- that do not have added salt or sugar.
Add supplements to your diet.There is a wide variety of dietary supplements that can help reduce inflammation in some people. Devil’s claw, mangosteen, cat’s claw, and milk thistle are some common ones. Speak with your doctor about using supplements if you are unsure about them. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should be able to safely use more than one supplement at a time.
- Never use dietary supplements as a first-line of defense. Other methods -- such as regular exercise and healthy diets -- have much more proven results.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Get 8 hours of sleep a night.Sleep helps your body recover and fight inflammation, so it’s important to get a full night’s sleep, which for most people is between 7 and 8 hours. If you’re having trouble getting that much sleep, reorganize your schedule so that you’re devoting enough time to preparing for sleep and sleeping every day.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, try relaxing before bedtime and avoiding looking at electronic screens once in bed. These practices can help people fall asleep faster.
- If you have chronic trouble with insomnia, speak with your doctor about potential medical solutions, like cognitive behavior therapy.
Exercise for at least 2.5 hours every week.One of the many health benefits of exercise is that it can reduce inflammation. Your 2.5 hours of exercise a week only needs to be moderate in intensity, meaning it raises your heartbeat but does not necessarily strain your muscles, like taking a walk. Spread your 2.5 hours of exercise throughout the week. If you’re worried about aggravating an injury, speak to your doctor or physical therapist about how to develop an exercise plan that works for you.
- Use a Fitbit or other personal fitness tracker to help you meet your exercise goals during the week.
Relax more to reduce stress levels.High levels of stress can increase inflammation in the body. They can also make it more difficult to sleep, which helps the body fight inflammation. Take small breaks when working during the day, perhaps just to get some fresh air or stretch for a couple minutes.
- Give yourself time at the end of the day to relax by exercising, engaging in a hobby, or simply spending time with friends or family members.
Lose weight if you need to.Being overweight can promote inflammation in the body. Ask your doctor if you need to lose weight before committing to doing so. Even if you feel like you should be thinner, that does not necessarily mean you are overweight. If you do need to lose weight, exercise regularly and try to eat a healthy diet built around vegetables, fruit, and lean sources of protein.
Quit smoking if you are a smoker.Smoking hardens your arteries, which negatively affects the circulation of your blood. This can promote inflammation over time, especially of the heart and cardiovascular system. If you quit smoking, you may be able to reverse some of the damage cigarettes have done and lower the inflammation in your body.
Take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).For temporary flare-ups of inflammation, NSAIDs like ibuprofen can be effective. If inflammation is causing joint paint or a headache, for instance, use an NSAID as directed by the bottle and see if it helps reduce your pain.
- NSAIDs are not meant to be taken for long periods of time, however, so they may not be suitable for treating chronic inflammation.
- Speak with your doctor about using NSAIDs for more than 10 days to treat inflammation.
- Be cautious of taking NSAIDs frequently if you are at risk of getting stomach ulcers. Some preconditions that might make you at risk include being a smoker or having kidney failure.
Talk to your doctor about taking prescription medication for a stronger effect.If over-the-counter NSAIDs have little effect on your condition or you need medication for chronic inflammation, ask your doctor about possible prescription drugs you can take. Some of these may be more powerful or safer to take for longer periods of time than over-the-counter drugs. Some common prescription pain relievers include Celebrex and Vioxx.
Communicate with your doctor regularly when taking medication.Medication that fights inflammation can have negative side effects on your stomach, liver, or kidneys. Your doctor may even ask you to take regular blood tests when taking these pills. Follow all of your doctor’s orders and let them know immediately if you think something is wrong. For instance, if you’re having stomach pain or nausea, this could be a side effect of medication.
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