Are you dealing with fatigue, low energy, muscle pains, headaches, digestive discomfort, or other nagging symptoms? You are not alone. We see these complaints at our clinic every day. The root cause of these chronic symptoms is usually inflammation.
Don’t worry. You can reduce inflammation in your body naturally with the help of some simple dietary and lifestyle strategies. Let’s dive in and learn about our 7 tips on how to reduce inflammation in the body naturally.
What Is Inflammation?
Before we talk about how to reduce inflammation in the body, we need to talk about what inflammation is. Is inflammation bad? What causes inflammation?
Inflammation itself is not bad. It’s one of your body’s natural defense mechanisms to infections, injuries, allergens, and pathogens. However, depending on the type of inflammation you are experiencing, inflammation may be harmful. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation is a short-term inflammation. It occurs when having an acute injury, when your body encounters allergens, or when you get sick from an acute infection. For example, if you twist your ankle while jogging, your ankle will swell up, turn red, and hurt. If you have seasonal allergies, you may experience a runny nose, redness in your eyes, coughing, or itching as a reaction.
Acute inflammation supports your body’s natural recovery process. It gradually gets better as you get better. Depending on the cause, acute inflammation may only last for a few hours, days, or weeks.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is long-term. If your body is overburdened with inflammatory foods, poor sleep, chronic stress, poor lifestyle choice, and environmental toxins, it will have no choice but to try to protect you on a continuous basis. It will start to send an ongoing inflammation response resulting in chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation, unfortunately, becomes too much for your body. It can lead to severe symptoms, serious damage, and chronic health issues, including autoimmune disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, allergic, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cancer.
Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation
Symptoms of chronic inflammation may include:
- Insomnia and poor sleep
- Body aches
- Muscle and joint pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Brain fog
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive symptoms
- Acne, eczema, and other skin issues
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Anxiety or depression
- Frequent infections
7 Tips on How to Reduce Inflammation in the Body
Chances are, you don’t want chronic inflammation to damage your health. Let’s look at 7 tips on how to reduce inflammation in the body.
1. Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
One of the main culprits behind chronic inflammation is a poor diet. Our modern-day diet is full of refined and artificial ingredients that can increase your risk of inflammation. If you want to know how to reduce inflammation in your body, you have to start with your diet.
Remove all refined sugar, refined oil, artificial ingredients, and additives. Avoid deep-fried food, junk food, and highly processed foods. Follow a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, whole foods diet abundant in greens, vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, fermented foods, nuts, seeds, whole grains, pseudograins, pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry, wild-caught fish, and wild game.
Choose organic whenever possible and available to avoid added hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or other toxins. If you are unable to find everything organic, remember the list of Dirty ‘Dozen and Clean 15’. Anything on the ‘Clean 15’ list, you can buy non-organic, as long as you wash it carefully and peel it. Anything that’s on the list of ‘Dirty Dozen’ or you can’t peel, always buy organic.
Our team of dieticians help patients navigate through complex dietary considerations everyday.
2. Use Anti-Inflammatory Herbs, Spices, and Compounds
Step up your game and go beyond a simple whole foods diet. Use anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to reduce inflammation in your body. You can use them in your soups, casseroles, stir-fries, salads, smoothies, and green juices for flavor. You can also find them in supplement form.
Our favorite anti-inflammatory herbs, spices, and compounds include:
- Cayenne pepper
3. Increase Your Omega-3 Intake
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated fats. Since your body can’t make it, you need to meet your needs through diet and supplementation. You not only need plenty of omega-3 in your diet, but you also need it to be at the right balance with omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fats. However, unlike omega-3s, they have pro-inflammatory effects. The healthy ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 is between 1:1 and 1:4. Yet, most Americans have a ratio of 1:16 or higher. Too much omega-6 and too few little omega-3 can seriously increase your inflammation levels and lead to chronic symptoms.
To improve your omega-3 levels and omega-3:omega-6 ratio, increase your omega-3 intake in your diet. Foods that are rich in omega-3s include fish, seafood, algae, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. Additionally to dietary sources, we recommend taking a high-quality omega-3 fish oil supplement daily.
4. Improve Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut health is connected to the rest of your body. Poor gut health will not only lead to digestive issues but all kinds of other symptoms. Gut-related chronic inflammation can cause fatigue, headaches, acne, brain fog, joint pain, anxiety, and so on. In short, microbiome imbalance is a recipe for chronic inflammation and related health issues.
So how can you improve your gut microbiome to reduce inflammation in your body? Two words: probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support your gut health and help to reduce inflammation in your body. Prebiotics feed probiotics in your gut and are non-negotiable for microbiome balance.
Consume plenty of probiotic-rich fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. Add prebiotic-rich foods to your diet, such as apples, bananas, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onion, and jicama. Take a daily dose of high-quality probiotics. You can also find probiotic supplements with prebiotics.
5. Exercise Regularly
It may sound contradictory to see exercise on a list of how to reduce inflammation in the body. If you are dealing with chronic inflammation, you are probably feeling tired, achy, or overburdened with other symptoms. Why would you want to exercise when you have low energy?
Yet, movement and exercise are some of your best weapons to reduce inflammation in your body. Regular exercise can reduce inflammation, pain, and the risk of chronic diseases.
Aim to exercise five days a week for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day. Mix up your routine by practicing cardiovascular exercises, strength and resistance training, and low-impact workouts. Stay active throughout the day by getting up to stretch regularly, taking a stroll during lunch, or choosing the stairs over the elevator.
6. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Just like inflammation, stress is beneficial when it’s acute and harmful when it is chronic. Acute stress helps you survive immediate danger. It was quite handy for the cavemen when lions were chasing them.
In today’s world, however, lions are not chasing us anymore. Instead of lions, you are being bombarded by daily stressors, such as work stress, school stress, financial stress, relationship stress, and other life stress. Unfortunately, your body’s response to these chronic stressors is creating chronic inflammation, which can consequently lead to an array of health issues.
To reduce stress-induced inflammation in your body, you need to reduce stress in your life. Practicing breathwork, meditation, guided relaxation, and gratitude are great ways to relax your body, calm your mind, and teach your brain to respond to stressful situations better. Other stress-reducing activities include journaling, coloring, arts and crafts, yoga, TaiChi, and nature walks.
7. Improve Your Sleep
Poor sleep is a major contributing factor to both chronic stress and chronic inflammation. Yet insomnia, poor sleep, and tiredness are some of the major signs of chronic stress and chronic inflammation creating a vicious cycle.
Improving your sleep is non-negotiable if you want to reduce inflammation in your body. Develop an evening routine that helps to unwind and relax. Avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and heavy foods in the evening as they can stimulate your body. Choose calming herbal tea, golden milk, or water instead.
Avoid electronic use at least two hours before bed. Choose relaxing activities instead, such as reading, coloring, puzzles, journaling, or listening to calming music instead. Support your sleep with a supportive and comfortable mattress, pillows, and bedding.
Final Thoughts on How to Reduce Inflammation in the Body
It may sound simple, but this is how you can reduce inflammation in your body. A healthy diet, probiotics, exercise, low stress, and better sleep and that’s it. Follow these steps to reduce inflammation in your body and watch your symptoms improve.
The best start to treating your acute or chronic inflammation is to schedule an appointment with Progressive Medical Center. We make it our goal to provide our patients with the tools and treatments they need to feel better and live better. Visit www.ProgressiveMedicalCenter.com/contact or give us a call at (770) 676-6000 to schedule your appointment today!