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Health and Fitness News

Four Ways to Fight Inflammation

Four things you can do to fend off unwanted inflammation

You may not realize it, but inflammation is a good thing when it happens at the right time and for the right reason. Pain, swelling, warmth, and redness are signs of inflammation and indicates that you’re injured or fighting infection. Triggered by your immune system, the chemicals that cause inflammation should ultimately help your body heal.

Unfortunately, the immune system doesn’t always work as it should and inflammation becomes chronic or triggered by things other than injury or infection. Major diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, and mental health conditions are all associated with high levels of inflammation in the body. In many cases, unwanted inflammation goes undetected for years, allowing diseases to slowly worsen.

The good news is that there are dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to prevent or reduce inflammation and improve your health today.

A Mediterranean Diet

If you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory diet, look no further than the Mediterranean diet. The foods included in this way of eating are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy fats that work to reduce inflammatory chemicals circulating in the body. So what foods should you eat? The Mediterranean diet mainly consists of nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, legumes, olive oil, green tea, and red wine in moderation.

Foods you should avoid in your fight against inflammation include refined carbs (white breads, pastas, and cereals), processed meats (sausage and hot dogs), sugar-filled drinks (sodas and sports drinks), sweets, vegetable oils like corn and soybean, processed snack foods, and excessive alcohol.

Active Lifestyle

Fighting inflammation is more that just eating the right foods and avoiding the bad one. It requires a proper lifestyle, and a big part of that lifestyle is regular exercise. Physical activity stimulates your muscles and tissue to release chemicals that ward off inflammation. Regular exercise doesn’t mean once a week, but every day. Make it your goal to sit less and move more in addition to the half hour of moderate exercise you strive to get each day.

Keep in mind that you’ll deal with less inflammation if you stay in shape without overdoing it. It’s good to challenge yourself, but workouts that push you past your physical limits may do more harm than good. Studies show inflammation levels spike in high-endurance athletes as the body tries to overcompensate for muscle fatigue and damage.

Stress Management

Chronic stress is linked to immune system imbalances and a rise in inflammation. Stress is unavoidable, but you can learn healthy ways of managing stress so it doesn’t negatively affect your health. If possible, do what you can to avoid highly stressful situations. Set your priorities, avoid overcommitting, and make time for relaxation and things you enjoy. Some people find exercise to be a highly effective way of coping with stress. Others prefer prayer or meditation, time with friends, reading a good book, or a hot bath to de-stress at the end of the day.

Shut-Eye

Staying up too late and waking up too early is a recipe for inflammation. A lack of sleep leads to high levels on inflammation in the body. Maybe you’re a student studying for a test, a busy mom trying to get chores done, or you just enjoy staying out late. Whatever your reason for skimping on sleep, it will catch up with you eventually. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night will help keep inflammation at bay.