Inflammation results from the body’s attempt to repair itself after injury—so it’s a natural and necessary part of healing. This quick (also called acute) response typically includes increased heat, swelling, and pain at the site of the injury and is short lived.
But chronic, longer-term inflammation is another matter altogether. In essence, your body is on “high alert” all the time. This prolonged state of emergency can cause lasting damage to your heart, brain, and other organs.
Chronic inflammation (also called cellular inflammation) has been linked to diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, according to Harvard Medical School.
Fortunately, says Cleveland Clinic, you can adopt lifestyle choices that reduce your risk of chronic inflammation. Smoking, obesity, chronic stress, and drinking alcohol excessively have been shown to play a part in chronic inflammation.
Here are things you can do to reduce inflammation.
Eat fruits and vegetables
Harvard Medical School recommends including plenty of the following in your diet:
- Olive oil
- Spinach, kale, and other green leafy vegetables
- Salmon, tuna, sardines, and other fatty fish
- Strawberries, oranges, cherries, and other fruits
- Almonds and other nuts
Avoid the following:
- French fries and other fried foods
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda
- Red meat and processed meat
- Lard, shortening, and margarine
- White bread, pastries, and other refined carbohydrates
Because poor diet is one of the leading causes of inflammation, you should exercise and eat better to reduce the problem. Even if you don’t lose weight, exercise can lower inflammation as shown in the reporting on this study.
Consider exercise such as:
- Riding a bike
- Walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day
- Using an elliptical machine
- Running on a treadmill
Get a massage
A study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that receiving a 45-minute Swedish massage can decrease levels of key inflammation-promoting hormones.
“Massage may decrease inflammatory substances by [appropriately] increasing the amount of disease-fighting white blood cells in the body,” study co-author Mark Hyman Rapaport, M.D., said. “It may also lower stress hormones. Either way, these inflammation-lowering results can be seen after just one massage.”