6 Ways to Fight Inflammation

Chronic inflammation may contribute to many illnesses, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and some forms of cancer. Fortunately, you can fight back.

Health Monitor Staff
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1. Lose weight
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), if you're overweight or obese, losing 5%-10% of your weight may decrease inflammation throughout your body.

2. Fight back with food
The good news is that there are many foods that actually fight the inflammation process, including:

  • Green tea
  • Nuts
  • Deep-sea fish, including mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon
  • Ginger
  • Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric
  • Nigella, a spice used in Indian food, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may fight cancer

Several studies also have found that resveratrol, a substance that's abundant in red wine, grapes and peanuts, appears to be a potent anti-inflammatory.

3. Bring down your blood sugar
While the above foods are anti-inflammatory, other foods should be avoided. Those that increase inflammation include:

  • Simple starches, particularly those made with white flour, potatoes and rice
  • Sugar

These foods can increase levels of blood glucose and C-reactive protein (CRP), a key inflammatory marker. High CRP indicates that inflammation is present in the same way that a fever indicates you have a virus or flu.

4. Get more shut-eye
Those who get less than seven or eight hours of sleep per night are prone to chronic inflammation. If you're having trouble getting that much sleep, doctors suggest that you:

  • Establish a consistent bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine for eight hours before bed
  • Don't bring work into the bedroom
  • See you physician if you still have problems falling asleep or staying asleep.

5. Walk it off
Exercise can be one of your best weapons against chronic inflammation. You can reduce inflammation levels by simply walking 10 minutes per day. Benefits include improved heart health and reduced obesity.

"Studies show that people who are active have healthier joints for a longer time," says Tim Church, MD, PhD, who's done many such studies. "Physical activity is anti-inflammatory."

6. Hit the drugstore
Ask your doctor whether you should consider anti-inflammatory supplements, including:

  • Ginseng
  • Quercetin
  • Ginkgo biloba

Talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter products because of possible interaction with prescription medications. Also, discuss the option of using a prescription anti-inflammatory if you have a chronic condition.

November 2012