How to reduce inflammation for a happier life

Chronic inflammation can have serious longterm effects

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Inflammation occurs when your body’s immune system responds to an injury or to a foreign agent like a virus or bacteria. Swelling and redness often occur as the body send cytokines and inflammatory cells to surround and destroy the threat. Chronic inflammation can occur when the body regularly activates this response even when there’s no outside danger.

Over time, chronic inflammation can increase your risk of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, inflammation may also contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety. From the physical stresses to the mental, inflammation can simply make life more difficult. So here is a quick breakdown of how you can reduce inflammation to promote a happier, healthier life.

Foods that reduce inflammation

According to the Harvard Medical School, the best way to reduce inflammation can be found inside the fridge. An anti-inflammatory diet can improve physical and mental health, as well as reduce risk of disease.

“Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Harvard Medical School.

Anti-inflammatory foods include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish and fruits. Coffee may also protect against inflammation. There are also a number of foods to avoid.

“Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation,” Dr. Hu said. “It’s not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.”

Foods that cause inflammation include refined carbohydrates, fried foods, soda, red meat and margarine.

Good habits that reduce inflammation

According to Atlanta-based health care system Piedmont, there are a number of other ways to reduce inflammation outside of eating anti-inflammatory foods. Avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking are two great ways to reduce inflammation. It is also important to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and practice good sleep hygiene.

“Do your best to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day; sleep seven to nine hours each night; sleep in a cool, dark room; avoid digital devices an hour before bed; invest in a comfortable mattress, pillow and sheets; use a white noise machine to block out distractions; and see your primary care provider if you frequently feel fatigued,” Piedmont advised.

It is also important to practice stress management techniques.

“Stress can have an inflammatory effect on the body, so make time for de-stressing activities like meditation, journaling, yoga, walks in nature, reading, spending time with loved ones, gardening or another hobby,” Piedmont reported. “Take time away from your phone, computer and other devices to rest, think and process your feelings.”