How To Reduce Inflammation Fast

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Inflammation in the body

Redness. Swelling. Burning. These are the images you may get in your mind when you hear the word “inflammation.” However, those are just the typical signs of inflammation that you may be familiar with. Inflammation can also happen inside of the body. When the body encounters stress such as injury, illness, or has contact with something it sees as an invader or toxin, then an immune response can be triggered which leads to inflammation.

Inflammation in the body is caused by what is known as oxidative stress. Put simply, oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body. If there are more free radicals, or unpaired electrons, in the body, then cell damage can occur. This can ultimately lead to increased risk of chronic disease including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This happens because the unpaired electrons will travel through the body looking for an electron to steal from other cells. This stealing leads to cell damage.

To prevent damage from inflammation it is important to make sure you consume plenty of antioxidants. Not only that, you should reduce inflammation in your body to begin with! Here are 22 science-backed ways to start reducing your body’s inflammation right now.

22 Ways to Reduce Inflammation Fast

Drink plenty of water

water to reduce inflammation

It may seem like a simple thing to do but drinking enough water every day is vital to reducing inflammation in the body. This is because water helps to flush out harmful toxins that can linger in the gut which in turn can lead to inflammation. Not only that, but water lubricates the joints, regulates body temperature and blood pressure, and can also make you feel fuller longer, which in turn can help you manage weight and reduce obesity-related chronic disease risk. Therefore, try to make most of what you drink each day water and other unsweetened beverages.

Sit less

For most of the day, many people are sitting for most of the day at work, at the dinner table, on the couch, and at school.  This sedentary behavior not only burns less calories than moving, but it can also increase chronic disease risk. Researchers suggest that sitting can affect fat and sugar metabolism, which in turn can increase inflammation in the body and increase risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that replacing 60 minutes of sitting with 60 minutes of standing or stepping each day can reduce levels of inflammatory markers in the body.

Move more

movement and inflammation

There are so many reasons to exercise already. Weight management, heart health, helping to stabilize blood glucose levels, to name a few. One more reason to exercise is that it can reduce inflammation in the body. Research shows that a 20-minute bout of exercise reduced levels of inflammatory markers in the body. This shows that exercise may be protective against inflammatory conditions upon further study. Therefore, try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day for most days of the week.  Moderate exercise includes those activities that can make you break a sweat after several minutes and increases your rate of breathing enough so that you can hold a conversation but can’t sing.

Eat a plant-based diet

Adding more colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet can help reduce inflammation in the body because of their antioxidant content.  The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, like polyphenols, help reduce oxidative stress in the body that can cause cell damage. In turn, the antioxidants help lower risk of chronic disease. Eat a variety of colors of produce in your diet so you can benefit from a diverse array of antioxidants. Recent research shows that eating a plant-based diet can lower risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Avoid processed foods

Besides the high fat and sugar content of processed foods, the additives used to preserve, flavor, and stabilize such foods can be harmful to health. This is because such additives can impact the immune system and negatively affect metabolism. Therefore, try to limit or avoid consuming processed foods such as refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta, French fried potatoes, processed meats like sausage and hot dogs, as well as sugary candies and colas, to name a few. Early research on the effects of processed food on chronic disease risk shows that the additives in processed foods may have a strong role in their impact on increasing chronic disease burden.

Cut back on sugar

Sugar is a substance in food that provides empty calories and can lead to weight management issues and increased risk of chronic disease if consumed in excess. As far as inflammation, research shows that most forms of sugar act similarly when it comes to inducing inflammation. Those with inflammatory conditions like arthritis are actually encouraged not to eat so much sugar since it can cause increased inflammation and pain.

Limit certain fats like saturated fats, trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids

When there was a ban on trans fats years ago, you may have wondered why exactly these types of fats were so bad.  Besides being used to cook such unhealthy foods as fast foods and fried foods, research shows that trans fats can induce inflammation in the body.  Saturated fats on the other hand are not all bad in moderation, but research shows that when saturated fat intake is replaced with some unsaturated fat intake, heart disease risk goes down.  Therefore, focus your diet on mostly healthy fats.

Eat more healthy fats

salmon reduces inflammation

Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats from plant-based foods like avocado and olives as well as from fatty fish have been shown time and again to reduce disease risk. This is because such foods have an antioxidant effect on the body’s cells. The American Heart Association suggests replacing some of your saturated fat intake with healthy fats to help reduce inflammation in the body and lower disease risk.

Limit gluten and casein

gluten and gut inflammation

Although it does not happen in everyone, inflammation can be induced after eating the protein gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye-based foods as well as casein, found in cow’s milk products. Those with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten since it induces an inflammatory response that damages the small intestine. This is because the gut of those with celiac disease view the protein as a pathogen. In turn, an inflammatory response is triggered.

With casein, a recent study shows that those with self-reported lactose intolerance experienced inflammation of their gastrointestinal tract after consuming milk containing A1 ß-casein. Milk containing A2 ß-casein did not have this same effect, therefore it is suggested that certain strains of casein may be the cause of some lactose intolerance symptoms.

Manage stress

Stress is an often-forgotten factor when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle plan. However, it is a very big contributor to inflammation. This is because stress related to anxiety and depression has been found to impact gut health, and in turn can cause an inflammatory response in the body and increase risk of chronic disease.

Research shows that stress can actually induce inflammation that can worsen conditions such as heart disease, depression, and cancer, to name a few. Therefore, find ways to relax and calm your mind such as talking to a counselor or loved one, engaging in yoga or meditation, or simply finding 15 minutes each day to read an inspiring book or take a relaxing walk.

Sleep better

sleep better

It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when there are not enough hours in the day to get things done. However, without a good night’s sleep you could be placing your body at risk for inflammation and increased disease risk including Alzheimers. Recent recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation show that the average adult should have at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health.  Sleep is so important since this is a time for the body to regulate temperature, fluid, and blood pressure as well as balance out hormones.  Without sleep, these processes are negatively affected and can impact all aspects of health. In fact, research shows that sleep loss or getting less sleep than the minimum seven hours recommended each night, can potentially induce low-grade inflammation.

Take a daily probiotic

Although research is early on, study results are promising and show that probiotics, or good bacteria, can reduce inflammation in the body. This is because when the gut is properly balanced with a diverse array of bacteria, then food can be digested better, more nutrients can be absorbed better, and in turn, the body can be better nourished. Research shows that probiotics may be especially effective in those with digestive conditions to help reduce symptoms and improve overall gut health.

Spice up your food with anti-inflammatory flavorings

Besides spicing up your food for flavor, spices like turmeric and ginger can also reduce inflammation. Turmeric is a golden spice often found in Indian cuisine and its antioxidant properties come from the compound curcumin found in small concentrations in the spice.

Research shows that turmeric is at its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory best when combined with ground black pepper. This is because piperine, the major component in black pepper, increases the bioavailability of curcumin in the body.

On the other hand, ginger, which has long been used in herbal medicine, works on its own well to help reduce inflammation and treat digestive conditions such as nausea and gastritis, and may also help to improve health outcomes in certain infectious diseases.

Keep your teeth clean

You may know it is important to brush your teeth for fresh breath, but did you know that clean teeth and gums can also reduce inflammation?  If you do not brush and floss daily, then bacteria can linger in your mouth and cause gum disease or other oral infections. This can trigger inflammation, which in turn can increase your risk diseases such as heart disease.

Also, those with diabetes and autoimmune disease have a lower resistance to infection, so they may be more at risk for developing illness from oral infections. Therefore, listen to your dentist and keep your teeth clean every day to keep your mouth and body at its healthiest.

Limit alcohol intake

Alcohol is not normally a part of a healthy lifestyle anyway, but even more so it can cause inflammation in excess. One drink here or there is fine, but over time drinking more than the recommended one standard drink a day for women and two for men can lead to health conditions like increased blood pressure, a weakened heart muscle, and liver damage. One standard drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Alcohol can cause disease due to the breakdown of alcohol releasing harmful byproducts into the bloodstream that can cause inflammation.

Also, research shows that drinking alcohol can impact the good bacteria in the gut, in turn triggering an inflammatory response. Therefore, just stick to the standard recommendations if you drink alcohol to keep your body healthy.

Don’t smoke

Smoking can constrict blood vessels and in turn make it hard for oxygen to get from the heart to the body’s tissues. In turn, the tissues in the body are not optimally nourished and can become diseased. Also, smoking increases oxidative stress in the body that can damage cells and increase inflammation and disease risk. Therefore, if you don’t already smoke, then great. However, if you do smoke, try to quit with resources provided from SmokeFree.gov.

Cut back on certain medicines like pain relievers

pain medication and inflammation

When you think of a pain reliever, you may think of a pill that will help you reduce pain and inflammation. Although this can be true, overuse of such pain relievers can actually induce inflammation in your body over time. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work to block the production of certain substances in the body that can cause pain and inflammation. They are used to treat headaches, joint pain, and menstrual cramps, among other things.

However, research shows that overuse of such medicines can actually cause harm to the gut, which can cause digestive distress and pain, especially in those with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. Also, taking pain relivers often can reduce saliva flow in the mouth, which can allow bacteria to breed, and in turn increase inflammation in the body. Therefore, limit your use of such medicines to only when you need it most, or talk to your healthcare provider about other alternative treatments for your pain issue.

Limit antibiotic use

When you get sick such as with an infection, the doctor often prescribes antibiotics to help combat the bad bacteria. However, too much antibiotic use can make your bacteria resistant to such medications, and in turn can put you at risk for illness in the future. Not only for this reason but using antibiotics can kill off good bacteria in the process of killing off the bad. In turn, this can leave your gut prone to infections like yeast infections in women. These infections are no fun, so when you take antibiotics, be sure to eat at least a yogurt or day or a serving of other fermented foods to help restore your gut with good bacteria.

Research shows that antibiotic use can cause changes in the gut bacteria that can make you prone to such inflammatory conditions. Therefore, be sure to limit your antibiotic use to only when absolutely necessary, and for limited periods of time.

Consume fermented foods

Foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha are not only tasty, but chock full of good bacteria that can nourish your gut.  As mentioned earlier, these foods are a must-have during times when you are on antibiotic treatment. However, this does not mean that they are not great for everyday consumption. Be sure to add a serving of fermented foods to your diet everyday to help keep your gut balanced and your digestion on track. Research shows that eating fermented foods can provide similar bacteria as probiotics, and in turn can help restore gut microbiome balance and work to reduce inflammation in the body.

Bone broth

One of the latest forms of tasty protein to hit the nutrition stage is bone broth. Not only can it help you get protein with a low-calorie profile, but it can also combat inflammation. Research shows that enriched chicken bone broth reduces expression of the pro-inflammatory protein kinase A. In turn, drinking bone broth may reduce pain and symptoms in those with inflammatory conditions upon further study.

Anti-inflammatory supplements

Supplements like alpha-lipoic acid, spirulina, and resveratrol can help reduce inflammation by providing antioxidant power right now. These supplements can be taken in capsule form but can also be found in certain foods as well.

Resveratrol is well-known for being found in red wine and grapes, while alpha-lipoic acid is found in red meat and organ meat like liver as well as in vegetables like spinach and broccoli.

Spirulina, also known as blue-green algae, is often used as a vitamin B12 source in those on vegetarian and vegan diets. Research has shown that alpha-lipoic acid, resveratrol, and spirulina are all rich sources of antioxidants that can combat the oxidative stress that can harm your health.    

If you want to start reducing your body’s inflammation today, incorporating these supplements into your daily routine is great way to start. Of course, check with your doctor first. Then check prices and read reviews of the several quality brands out there:

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Resveratrol
  • Spirulina

Green drinks

I know you have seen a green drink or two in your day and although it looks healthy, you may not know exactly why it can be so healthy. Green drinks like juices or smoothies with the hue of nature contain ingredients such as: spinach, kale, wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella, moringa, etc… (FYI, wheatgrass does not contain gluten). These refreshing and healthy ingredients not only provide fiber and low-calorie nutritious flavor, but also contain antioxidants. And if you’ve read the rest of this article, you know that antioxidants help reduce inflammation by fighting off harmful oxidative stress that can increase your disease risk. Just be careful how your green drink is made though.

You will want to make sure that your drink is blended instead of juiced, so you can not only get soluble fiber, but insoluble fiber too to help bulk your stool and improve gut health.  And be sure there is not too much added sugar from agave syrups, honey, and other sources since sugar can induce inflammation when consumed too often.

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Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN
Staci Gulbin is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, health editor, and founder of LighttrackNutrition.com. Staci Gulbin has been a registered dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration since 2010 and has over a decade of experience in the nutrition and dietetics industry. She has graduate degrees in Biology, Human Nutrition, and Nutrition and Education from New York University, the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition, and Teacher’s College, Columbia University, respectively. Staci has treated thousands of patients across many wellness arenas such as weight management, fitness, long-term care, rehab, and bariatric nutrition. She has helped them prevent and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and digestive conditions, among other things with practical changes in their eating habits and lifestyle.