Chronic inflammation seems to play a role in many illnesses, from arthritis to diabetes to cancer and heart disease.
Even if inflammation hasn’t launched into a full-blown disease, often times, minor inflammation can make us feel “off.” When this is a result of viral or bacterial attacks, inflammation can be a good thing, helping our bodies fight off the invaders. But when it becomes chronic, it can lead to serious illness. While the food we eat plays a significant role in our bodies’ wellbeing, it is not the only thing contributing to widespread inflammation. Living an anti-inflammation lifestyle can bring greater health, better mood, and help you get out of life what you want and need.
(Please consult your healthcare practitioner before embarking on any significant lifestyle changes, like adding new vitamins or herbs to your diet or starting to exercise for the first time. All diseases should be monitored by a healthcare professional. The advice shared here is not meant to replace that of your doctor or professional health counselor.)
1. Beneficial Vitamins
Research has hinted that certain vitamins can help reduce inflammation. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. While many people can get adequate vitamin A from their diet, it can pay to ask your doctor or nutritionist about vitamin A supplements if you’re dealing with chronic inflammation (especially inflammation in the intestines, lungs and skin). Besides supplements, Vitamin A can be found in whole milk and liver and can be converted by the body from beta-carotene (found in carrots and other colorful vegetables).
Low levels of vitamin B6 can lead to the development of heart disease and increased inflammation in people dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin B6 is water soluble, which means the body is constantly shedding it. In order to maintain adequate levels, people need to be ingesting it daily in their diet. Beef, turkey, vegetables and fish are all great ways to get it. Additionally, you may be a candidate for a vitamin B6 supplement if you are dealing with arthritis, as inflammation tends to deplete your body’s B6 levels.
Vitamin C and vitamin E are two other antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. While you may benefit from taking a supplement, getting vitamin C from oranges, other citrus and fruits, and vitamin E from nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables is the best option.
Vitamin D and vitamin K also seem to play a role in the body’s reduction of inflammation and prevention of disease. Vitamin D can be found in fish, liver, beef and egg yolks. However, the skin also produces it when exposed to sunlight (preferably early morning or late afternoon sunlight to reduce the cancer-causing rays to which your skin is exposed). Vitamin K is available in green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus.
2. Healthy Weight Maintenance
Maintaining a healthy weight is another key approach to dealing with chronic inflammation. Fat can house inflammation and even produce inflammation. For example, excess weight around the waist is a key place for inflammation to hang out. If weight is an issue and you’re struggling to control it, consider working with a nutritionist, your doctor and a personal trainer to reach a healthy weight.
3. Daily Exercise
Adequate, frequent exercise is another key component in lowering your body’s inflammation. As you exercise, blood flow is increased and the rate of inflammatory molecules released in your body is lowered. According to Valerie Latona of Mother Earth Living, “When we exercise, our fat and muscle tissues release big bursts of proteins called cytokines into our bloodstream, helping inflammation to drop.” Even as little as 20 minutes a day can be beneficial.
4. Adequate Restful Sleep
Along with exercising, adequate, quality sleep is important. A body heals and renews itself when it receives proper sleep. Stress hormone amounts, like cortisol and adrenaline, are lowered. Try to get at least seven and a half to eight or nine hours of good sleep a night. If you struggle with getting good sleep, consider discussing it with your doctor. You can also experiment with different bedtime routines. A warm mug of a calming tea (like chamomile or lavender) before bed may help.
Try to turn off electronic devices two hours before bedtime as the blue light from these can affect your production of melatonin (a hormone that helps regulate your sleep). Additionally, consider turning off your Wi-Fi, as some experts believe the signals can cause sleep problems. If you are still struggling, talk to your doctor about sleep medicines or other natural approaches you can try. The importance of quality sleep to your health cannot be overstated.
5. Stress Control
Stress is another prime factor in increased inflammation in your body. Chronic stress can result in excessive inflammatory chemicals released in your body. Take a moment to evaluate your life and identify the stresses. Then explore ways to reduce those stresses or eliminate them. Some stresses will remain, like chronic health problems or the loss of a loved one. However, it’s important that you find ways to relax. Things like meditation and even breathing exercises have helped many. If you are a spiritual person, consider talking to your spiritual adviser or a counselor. Even finding a good friend to bounce thoughts off of can be beneficial, and they may be able to give valuable insight. If you find security in order and control, then try to have a more scheduled routine. If you find it freeing to try something new or you feel rejuvenated when out with friends, be sure to schedule times for these into your life. Consider taking up a hobby, helping out a charity, spending time with family or simply stopping and smelling the roses. In a fast-paced world, it’s important to identify relaxing and enjoyable activities and make room for them in your life.
Seeking ways to lower your body’s inflammation can lead to a longer and happier life!
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