Lifestyle factors can contribute to chronic inflammation. Poor-quality and inadequate sleep appears to promote increased release of cortisol (the stress hormone), which may increase hunger and lead to cravings for sugary and processed food. Daily stress from work, family, responsibilities, financial burdens and commuting can cause a constant release and high level of cortisol in your blood. High cortisol levels may promote insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and weight gain.
Chronic inflammation can contribute to other serious health issues such as coronary artery disease and autoimmune disease, and it even impacts the way your immune system reacts to viruses and bacterial infections. When inflammation is kept in check, your body is less likely to overactivate the immune system when a foreign invader attacks, one of the major concerns when someone falls ill with a viral infection such as COVID-19.Section divider
4 key anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes
Here are 4 lifestyle changes that can play a dramatic role in reducing inflammation in the body.
1. Sign up for a yoga class
Yoga is one of the best ways to combat stress, a key player in chronic inflammation. Ongoing psychological stress increases levels of CRP and is linked with higher levels of inflammation, along with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Yoga eases stress and anxiety to fight inflammation.
A regular practice improves mood and overall sense of well-being. But yoga isn’t the only option. Tai Chi, Quigong, meditation and deep breathing practices have similar effects. Look for an online class and sign up with a buddy for more fun (and accountability).
If you’re extra tense, try soothing supplements; lemon balm, rhodiola, valerian and L-theanine (hello, green tea) can ease anxiety and stress.
2. Walk more
Besides its billions of other benefits, exercise supports the body’s production of anti-inflammatory chemicals. Physical activity helps shed fat, a contributing factor in whole-body inflammation. Plus, regular movement boosts mood and lessens stress.
Even 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like walking leads to anti-inflammatory effects. Up your steps in little ways every day. Try taking hourly breaks to run up and down the stairs, or park at the far end of the lot. You can also walk while you’re making calls. Several times a week, amp up the intensity with a more vigorous buddy hike. You can increase your motivation and gratification with a phone app that tracks daily steps; Pacer and ActivityTracker are easy-to-use, free versions.
3. Baby your belly
Intestinal bacteria play a key role in both inflammation and mood, and disruptions in the gut’s microbiome can impact the brain and your behavior. Beneficial bacteria in the intestines make hundreds of neurochemicals that impact mental processes, including mood. And about 95 percent of the body’s serotonin – which is linked with lower anxiety and happier outlook – is made by gut bacteria.
But gut inflammation disrupts the balance between good and bad microbes, impacts brain chemistry and mood. It’s one reason people with chronic gastrointestinal disorders are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Keep your gut happy and healthy by including probiotic-rich foods (think yogurt, kimchi, tempeh), focusing on high-fiber vegetables and legumes to nourish beneficial bacteria and staying plenty hydrated. Keep in mind even low levels of dehydration can impact gut bacteria.
4. Supplement your life
While you’re making all of these healthy lifestyle tweaks, add an extra layer of support with natural supplements that reduce inflammation and improve mood. One of the best is curcumin, the active compound in turmeric root. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, and as little as a gram per day can lower CRP levels. Plus, it’s able to improve mood and ease anxiety and depression.
Isolated curcumin is more effective than whole turmeric. You can try taking a supplement that contains piperine or black pepper extract to dramatically increase absorption. Other inflammation-taming options: alpha lipoic acid, boswellia, resveratrol, cat’s claw and ginger Read more about those here.
See you in a few days for the last day of the 30-day Anti-Inflammatory Keto Reset Challenge!