Inflammation in the body is a normal and healthy defense against injury or germs.  It is experienced as redness, swelling, heat and pain designed to stimulate immune activity for healing.  But inflammation isn’t always helpful, and can occur continuously as a low-level, almost imperceptible state which can cause destruction and lead to many chronic conditions, especially as we get older.

Chronic inflammation occurs as a result of genetics, stress, toxins and even the foods we eat.  Diet can have a tremendous impact on the inflammation in our bodies and one of the most effective things you can do to reduce an inflammatory state is to reduce or stop eating refined, processed and manufactured foods.  Here are four other tips to fight a chronically fired up system:

  1. Heal your Gut: Taking probiotics (good bacteria that fights infection) reduces the effects of inflammation while strengthening your gut, which is one of the most important centers for your immune system.  Eat at least one serving of probiotics every day which can include yogurt, fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi) and kombucha. You can also take a probiotic supplement.  To pick a good probiotic supplement, be sure read labels. It needs to contain live strains of the bacteria, and the life of these strains should be guaranteed at the time of use. You also want to find the option with the highest number of bacteria strains and the number of colony-forming units.

The U.S. has no federal standards for probiotic supplements In order to ensure you are purchasing a product that actually contains it’s advertised strains, that they are alive and free from unhealthy ingredients, it may be best to choose a brand name that has research supporting its claims.  Here are a few examples:

  • Align
  • Culturelle
  • Florastor
  • VSL #3
  1. Eat More Greens: A plant-based, whole food diet will reduce inflammation.  You can also boost your success with top anti-inflammatory supplements such as vitamin E (up to 1,200 IU daily) and quercetin (1,500 IU daily). There are also a number of foods which are anti-inflammatory superstars to put on your grocery list:
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Dry Beans
  • Kale
  • Olive oil
  • Oranges
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Walnuts
  1. Be Social: Believe it or not, laughing and enjoying time with friends and family has been proven as an anti-inflammatory by researchers from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill.  Take time to be social and enjoy meaningful conversations at least once every day.
  2. Stretch and Exercise: Movements in yoga and the stretching that comes from walking help ease inflammation.  Much of this may be attributed to the reduction in stress combined with extending muscles in a controlled and smooth fashion.   Cardiovascular exercise is also important in the reduction of inflammation.  Your blood contains a protein molecule called “cytokine.” When you exercise, your adipose and muscle tissue release bursts of cytokines into your blood stream, which is likely the cause of the inflammation drop.  Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, five days a week.  Any type of workout that raises your heart rate and gets you moving counts , including things like walking, dancing and even house work.